Andrew McCutchen: Small Changes Add Up to Big Drop In Performance
Andrew McCutchen is slogging through the worst season of his professional career. His drop in production is a case of death by 1000 tiny cuts.
Andrew McCutchen‘s season is officially a cursed one.
What started off as an unsurprising bad start quickly mushroomed into one of the biggest storylines for the 2016 Pittsburgh Pirates. Now, something that was previously thought to be unthinkable has occurred. McCutchen has been benched for an entire series.
The search for answers is wide-ranging. Many have offered their own theories as to McCutchen’s struggles. The 29-year old center fielder is himself at a loss for words. He responded with exasperation when asked if he felt he needed to take a breather.
“I wouldn’t be taking days off”
The fact of the matter is that he is working to pull his bat out of its summer doldrums. But, as you will see, there is no easy fix. Rather, many small changes in McCutchen’s approach make up the large picture of a struggling former MVP.
Debunking The Lack Of Hittable Pitches
Andrew McCutchen has offered that he does not get many ‘hittable pitches,’ but the data culled from pitch f/x shows otherwise.
The table above shows the Zone percentages (percentage of pitches in the strike zone) as well as percentages of fastballs seen overall. McCutchen is seeing the most pitches in the zone than he ever has before, and 4.4 percent more than his 2013 MVP campaign.
On their own merits, Zone and fastball percentages can’t tell the full story. They are imperfect metrics. Just because a pitch lands in the zone doesn’t mean the pitch did not have enough deception to freeze the batter, or outright fool him. In this particular instance, fastball percentage lumps in all fastball types. Thus, we can’t fully lean on it to help explain away McCutchen’s inability to drive the ball.