The Yankees didn’t acquire Andrew McCutchen to be their everyday right fielder, but he’s done an excellent job in that role for the team.
At first glance, the fact that Andrew McCutchen is only hitting .222 during his time with the Yankees would seem to indicate he hasn’t helped Aaron Boone’s club. A deeper look at his play in the Bronx reveals that he’s been a big help for his new team.
Coming into today, McCutchen has played 12 games for the Yankees. His aforementioned batting average certainly isn’t good, but the rest of his offensive numbers are pretty strong. Specifically, his on base percentage has been huge for the club. Having your leadoff hitter get on base over 44% of the time gives your lineup a huge opportunity to drive in runs.
The truth is, McCutchen is just the victim of a low BABIP during his time in New York. That figure of .192 isn’t going to remain that low for the rest of the year. In fact, MLB.com projects that McCutchen’s average will experience an uptick to .267 for the rest of the year. That type of production isn’t going to make Yankees fans forget about Aaron Judge, but it’s significantly better than what Brett Gardner is providing in left field.
That means Boone is going to have a really interesting question when October arrives. Looking at the current numbers, it’s pretty clear McCutchen is a more productive hitter than Gardner. Both are good fielders, so that’s not going to make the manager’s decision any easier. Ultimately, Boone will need to choose between the club’s longest and shortest tenured players.
McCutchen’s performance with the Yankees also makes his upcoming free agency an interesting question for the team. Assuming the former Pirates star is willing to accept a part-time role, Brian Cashman and company might be really interested in bringing him back to the Bronx for another season or two. He’s not going to start over Judge or Giancarlo Stanton, but it’s conceivable he can outproduce Gardner or Aaron Hicks. It’s unlikely he’ll be back with the club in 2019, but his play down the stretch has only increased that possibility.
In the end, McCutchen hasn’t been good enough to keep the Yankees offense clicking in Judge’s absence, but he’s been a part of the solution. He’s absolutely been an asset for his new team. Time will tell if that will be enough to earn him meaningful bats for the Yankees in October.