Hidden Cutch Attribute

Your daily recap of all of yesterday's most interesting hitters.

When I was in college my buddies and I were obsessed with an old school Nintendo 64 game called NBA Hangtime. Basically an excellent NBA Jam ripoff; one thing that it added was a stellar player creator option where you gained attribute points by winning games. There was always a rumor on the internet that there were hidden attributes beyond the listed ones you could improve; mainly that there was a hidden “clutch” attribute, determining if your player would come through in big moments. We obsessed over it, trying to find out what each player’s hidden clutch attribute was, so much so that it has become a running joke to this day we use to fit any situation. You perfectly cook a meal, remember an anniversary, or don’t forget to pick up paper towels at the grocery store? Bam, hidden clutch attribute. It works for anything. I always used to think this way about Andrew McCutchen as well (he has a career 139 wRC+ with runners in scoring position). Until this year I had always assumed that he had a 10 rating sitting there firmly in that hidden clutch attribute but so far for a large chunk of 2020 he’s struggled.

Coming into this season, Cutch has pretty much been one of the most consistent hitters in baseball (did you know that he’s never finished a season with a below-average wRC+?), but coming off major knee surgery that ended his 2019 season, McCutchen has mightily struggled for much of the season, hitting just .238/.286/.345 for the year. However, after going 2-5, R, RBI yesterday, it seems he may have found his stride again, as of late he’s hitting .300/.340/.460 with seven runs, 10 RBI, and a stolen base over the last 12 days. In the 12 games he played in over that time, he has multiple hits in six of them. There have been some changes that show he might be figuring it out as well. He’s started hitting the ball to all fields which is a significant drop from the 61.3 Pull% he had demonstrated through the first 11 games. This is significant because he’s seen the shift on over half of his plate appearances. You have to think those two things are connected. In addition, he is hitting the ball in the air more often over his hot stretch and he has dropped his K% down to 16.5%, which would represent the second-best rate of his career.

Most savvy readers will say though, “Dan, what about his plummeting BB%?” and they’d be absolutely right to ask that. Unfortunately, it isn’t all perfect as Cutch’s BB% has dropped all the way from 16.4% to 6.6%! That is concerning. I think I have at least a partial explanation though. Pitchers are throwing him more first-pitch strikes than ever before but they’re throwing him far fewer strikes overall than at any point in his career. Now you’d think that would increase his walks but Cutch has responded to this by swinging more often and making way more contact. He’s being more aggressive on those early strikes and his Swing%, Contact%, and Z-Contact% are all way up. If he’s able to keep beating the shift by using all fields and keep making contact at a high rate, he might be able to make up for the lack of walks. I want to see a bit more to confirm the shift-beating approach change but so long as he’s batting leadoff for the Phillies I don’t see how you can afford to leave him out there on the wire if he’s available.


Let’s check in with how the other hitters fared on Sunday:

Alec Bohm (3B, PHI) – 3-4, HR, 2 R, RBI, BB. There have been few debuts better than Bohm’s as he hit his first career home run on Sunday. Over his first 10 games, Bohm is slashing .344/.462/.531 and is walking more than he is striking out. Prospect hounds have long sung the praises of Bohm’s bat and so far he’s made them look like geniuses. Obviously he won’t sustain this output long term but he should be a solid hitter for the rest of the season.

Austin Nola (C/1B, SEA) – 1-3, HR, R, RBI. Austin Nola continued his breakout season with his fourth home run on Sunday. He has six runs and seven RBI over his last five games and is hitting .298 on the year. So long as he’s batting fifth in the Mariner’s lineup with fellow breakout Kyle Lewis and comeback player of the year candidate Kyle Seager hitting in front of him, he could be a valuable source of RBI. Getting that kind of production at the catcher position makes Nola a must-add.

Teoscar Hernandez (OF, TOR) – 1-1, HR, 2 R, RBI, 3 BB, 2 SB. Speaking of breakouts, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Teoscar Hernandez hitting his tenth home run yesterday. He’s now batting .296 and has even chipped in four stolen bases on the season. While he is still striking out at an alarming rate, over half of his 29 hits have been of the extra-base variety so you know the power is legit.

Mookie Betts (OF, LAD) – 3-5, 2 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI, 2 SB. Mookie gonna Mookie. This is what you drafted him for and we’re not surprised to see this but you have to point out the double combo meal just because it’s awesome.

Justin Smoak (1B, MIL) – 2-4, HR, 2B, R, 3 RBI. While Smoak has been pretty awful this season this is his second home run over the last four games. It could be worth keeping an eye on him to see if he’s getting going.

Gregory Polanco (OF, PIT) – 2-3, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB, 2 SB. This was Polanco’s second straight game with a home run and chipping in two stolen bases is a pretty good sign his legs feel good. I can’t get on board though, unfortunately, when he’s striking out at a 42% rate with a 22.6 SwStr%. He hasn’t gone a game without a strikeout since the 7th so I’m still recommending you stay far away.

Dylan Carlson (OF, STL) – 2-4, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI. It’s good to see the youngster get his first career home run. He’s struggled so far this season but he should get the hang of it at some point; I’m just not sure when, yet. Keep an eye on him for now but I’m not sprinting to the waiver wire just yet.

Hunter Dozier (3B, KC) – 4-5, 2 2B, 3 R, BB. It’s good to have Dozier back! This is a nice game from the young hitter and it looks like he is chasing out of the zone at a much lower rate this year. He’s already put together five extra-base hits in just 12 games so the bat seems to be there as well. I don’t buy that he’ll continue to walk at an 18.4% rate but we definitely might be seeing some plate discipline improvements that could be getting lost in the noise.

Jose Abreu (1B, CWS) – 1-3, HR, R, RBI, BB. If his bat literally burst into flames right now I wouldn’t be surprised at all. That’s six home runs in the last three games.

Eugenio Suarez (3B, CIN) – 1-4, HR, R, 2 RBI. That’s five hits and two home runs over the last five games for Suarez. Hopefully, this is a sign that he’s getting going as both the Reds and his fantasy managers need his bat to get it together.

Ryan McMahon (1B/2B/3B, COL) – 2-4, HR, R, RBI. This makes three home runs over the last five days. I’d like to see some more hits (and fewer strikeouts) before I can say he might be figuring things out but if you want to take a flyer on McMahon the power ought to be there if nothing else.

Mike Yastrzemski (OF, SF) – 1-4, HR, R, RBI. Yaz is having a season for the ages. Hitting .309 with seven home runs, 28 runs, and 23 RBI, all while walking 17.3% of the time. It will be fascinating to see where we’re drafting him next year but in the meantime he’s making an argument for getting MVP votes.

(Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire)

Daniel Port

Daniel is a Fantasy Baseball writer, Brewer, and Theatrical Technician, located in Denver, Colorado. A lifelong fan of baseball and the Cleveland Indians since before Albert Belle tried to murder Fernando Vina, he used to tell his Mom he loved her using Sammy Sosa's home run salute, has a perfectly reasonable amount of love for Joey Votto and believes everything in life should be announced using bat flips. If you want to talk baseball, beer, or really anything at all you can find him on twitter at @DanielJPort !

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Account / Login