When Phillies General Manager Matt Klentak signed 2013 National League MVP Andrew McCutchen to a three year deal in December of 2018, it helped to kick off one of the more memorable offseasons in franchise history. In the weeks that followed leading up to, and even heading into Spring Training, the front office would go on to acquire catcher J.T. Realmuto from the Marlins and sign outfielder Bryce Harper from the Nationals. Along with the addition of shortstop Jean Segura, who was brought over from the Mariners, 2nd-year Manager Gabe Kapler now had four new former All-Stars to place in his lineup.
Those four players would go on to regularly occupy four of the first five spots of the batting order to start the 2019 season. Cutch made an immediate impact, hitting a home run in his first Phillies at-bat. Of course, the Philly Phaithful responded, and he became a fan favorite instantly. It is not hard to see why McCutchen is well-liked by fans, coaches, managers, and baseball people around the league. He is a man of high character who genuinely means well, works hard, and plays the game the right way. That is part of the reason why it was so hard to see him go down with that devastating injury last June.
In sports, a torn ACL is one of the toughest injuries to rehab from. In most cases, it may take an athlete over a year to recover. The recovery process both physically and mentally can be draining, but McCutchen never let himself get too low. He even stayed an active member of the team throughout the remainder of the 2019 campaign. Although the team enjoyed his presence in the clubhouse, his absence in the lineup and the field were felt all year. With him on the shelf, Kapler struggled to find a consistent leadoff man to place atop of the batting order.
Fast forward to Spring Training 2020: Kapler is no longer the guy filling out the lineup card, and Joe Girardi is now the new manager. Now, if the season started when it was supposed to in late March, Andrew McCutchen would not have been ready for Opening Day. With that being said, the season did not start on time, and it was not until July 24th that the Phillies played a gamed that counted for real. This allowed for Cutch to have plenty of time to get ready, and sure enough, he was back in the leadoff spot playing left field in the home opener.
Much like Rhys Hoskins, who has been hitting behind him, McCutchen did not get off to a great start offensively. However, he has been starting to turn it around the past couple of weeks. Over his last 15 games, McCutchen is batting .293, with a .974 OPS. In just the past three days, McCutchen has driven in five RBI’s and has added two more home run’s to bring his season total to five over 29 contests. Overall, he only played the field in 20 of the contests.
It is no secret the Phillies are being cautious with Cutch’s knee, given the severity of the injury. This is a smart call, as McCutchen is locked up not just for the rest of this season, but all of next season as well. In 2021, there is no guarantee the DH, or designated hitter, will stay in the National League. Joe Girardi might as well use that luxury while he has the opportunity to do so.
The bottom line is this: The Phillies have been playing winning baseball, and their recent hot streak has coincided with Andrew McCutchen’s resurgence at the dish. Now, he may not be the MVP candidate he was during his time in Pittsburgh, but his impact is surely being felt a top of the batting order. The Phillies are starting to trend up, and Andrew McCutchen is a big reason as to why.