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Fantasy Baseball 2013: Something to Know About Andrew McCutchen

Charles LeClaire – US Presswire

2012 was a long-awaited breakout season for Andrew McCutchen. The Pittsburgh Pirates star outfielder managed a National League leading 194 hits in 157 games, and his career high .327 average earned him the NL Silver Slugger award as well. He also set career bests in home runs and RBI, finally establishing himself as one of the premier five tool players in all of fantasy baseball.

And at 26-years-old, he’s is only on the rise.

McCutchen’s power has been growing nicely in the past few years, having hit 16 long balls in 2010, 23 in 2011, and now 31 in 2012. He’s proven himself a solid bet for at least 20 steals as well. It might be tough for us to see another .327 season, as McCutchen hit .392 against southpaws in 2012 or about 70 points higher than his career average, but hitting .300 is well within reach for the career .290 hitter. The 100 RBI mark is as well.

He’s clearly among the best outfield options in fantasy baseball this year, a five tool player about to enter into his prime, but don’t fall in love with him just yet. Lost in the statistical explosion of 2012 is something that all fantasy players should know before spending a top round pick on the Pirates’ star outfielder.

When it matters most, McCutchen rarely delivers.

If there is such a thing as a clutch player in fantasy baseball, McCutchen has shown himself not to be one. After hitting an absolutely insane .446 in July last season, the Pirates outfielder hit .252 and .254 in August and September respectively, crippling many fantasy teams either in the playoff hunt or in search of a championship. He’s been doing that his entire career.

His career average stands at a sub-par .263 during fantasy baseball’s playoff time, or about 40 points lower than his May, June and July marks, and that was never more prominent than in 2012. He was a man among boys in the first half of last season, a fantasy revelation, but things got shaky in the second half.

They tend to with McCutchen.

You can still expect a 20/20 season from the up-and-coming superstar, with a .300 average and an RBI total around 90, but don’t forget about his late season struggles. A first round pick is supposed to carry your team come playoff time, not weigh it down. The fact that McCutchen is ranked fifth overall on some draft boards is a bit too high. He’s a first round pick, no doubt, but until he proves himself when it matters most, he shouldn’t be going ahead of guys like Albert Pujols and Matt Kemp.

 

2013 Projections: .295 average, 28 HR, 88 RBI, 24 SB, 110 RS

 

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