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March 21, 2019

Phillies season preview: Andrew McCutchen will be clubhouse leader for revitalized squad

Over the last two weeks of spring training, the Phillies turn their prep work to get ready for the regular season into overdrive.

We'll do the same thing here at PhillyVoice. As the March 28 season opener against the Braves approaches, we'll break down everything you need to know to get ready for one of the most anticipated Phillies seasons ever.

Let's take a look at left field...

Before there was Bryce Harper, there was Andrew McCutchen.

Seemingly made as an early offseason insurance signing (against the real possibility that the Phils might miss out on Harper), McCutchen signed relatively early this past winter to the tune of three years and $50 million. 

In the 32-year-old, the Phillies are committing to a former MVP, a player who can play all three outfield positions and one who has eclipsed 20 home runs in eight straight seasons. They are also getting a veteran with playoff experience and who knows how to lead a clubhouse.

Just as much coveted for his ability to provide the Phillies lineup with a boost of confidence and knowhow as he is for his play on the field, McCutchen was a key acquisition and helps Philly to move on from a middling menagerie of borderline MLB outfielders (like they were stuck playing last season).

Here's a look at McCutchen and his fit on the Phillies 2019 roster:

Scouting report

McCutchen's best days are behind him, that is hard to argue. He won the Rookie of the Year when he debuted in 2009. Every season from 2011-to-2015, Cutch was an All-Star and from 2012-2015 he received top five NL MVP votes as a member of the Pirates (winning it in 2013). 

In 2018 he had an unusual year, splitting time between the Giants and Yankees while posting a career worst .255 batting average. Even still, McCutchen eclipsed 600 plate appearances for the ninth straight time. He has never been injured and has played at least 150 games every season since his rookie campaign.

Of his 1,479 games in the outfield, McCutchen has played just 12 of them in left. He used to be one of the best defensive outfielders in baseball, starting most of the time in center, but he played mostly in right last year and was about average by most measures. If the Phillies can get an average showing in left in 2019, they'll be satisfied.

NL East ranking

Left field looks like a young man's position, at least for the other top teams in the NL East. Two of the best young players in all of baseball, Ronald Acuna Jr. (the 2018 rookie of the year) and Juan Soto, will start for the Braves and Nationals respectively, while Michael Conforto will once again be the centerpiece of the Mets batting order.

The Marlins are taking a chance on veteran power bat Curtis Granderson after he got a non-roster invitation to their spring training camp.

LF 2018 stats2019 proj*  Career WAR
PHI Andrew McCutchen (32).255/.368/.424
20 HR, 65 RBI
20 HR, 67 RBI
ATLRonald Acuna Jr. (21).293/.366/.552
24 HR, 64 RBI
21 HR, 57 RBI
WASJuan Soto (20).292/.406/.517
22 HR, 70 RBI
18 HR, 61 RBI
NYMMichael Conforto (26).243/.350/.448
28 HR, 82 RBI
25 HR, 74 RBI
MIACurtis Granderson (38).242/.351/.431
13 HR, 48 RBI
18 HR, 46 RBI


McCutchen will likely finish — stat-wise — in the middle of the pack.

Phillies future

McCutchen is inked for three seasons. As we mentioned in our look at centerfielder Odubel Herrera, two of the Phillies' top prospects and recent first round picks — Mickey Moniak and Adam Haseley — received spring training invites and are poised to eventually break through. Herrera or McCutchen could eventually be beat out by one of the youngsers.

Short of that, expect three solid years of production from Cutch in red pinstripes.

Phillies season preview
C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | RF | CF | LF | SP | RP | Bench | Coach

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