I will be starting a new feature today and will run them through the start of the fantasy baseball season. Its called Fantasy Baseball Risers and it will cover players who are on the way up to realizing what seems to be star potential. These players are young, just getting their career’s under solid footing, and have ceiling still to reach before they level off into their prime. Today we start off by looking at Pittsburgh Pirates OF Andrew McCutchen who will be entering his second full season who will be turning only 25. McCutchen has been labeled as a player who has unlimited tools and who has the chance to be a huge star as soon as this season. Without further delay lets see where McCutchen is in his development and what we foresee for him as we reach 2011.
As we go toward the 2011 season, Andrew McCutchen has a solid year and a half of experience in the majors and during that short time has shown himself to be a guy who can contribute across the board in fantasy baseball. In his first full season in 2010, McCutchen finished with a very respectable 16 home runs along with a more than respectable 33 steals. He also batted .286 for the second season in a row. So the baseline is already in place and its already very appealing for fantasy baseball owners looking for a guy who can help in all categories in 2011. The exciting part in all of this is the fact McCutchen will only be turning 25 this season and so he still has a good two or three seasons of growth ahead of him and his body will surely fill out more during this time period. As evidenced by the 33 steals last season, the speed is already in place for McCutchen and so the power is what we are currently waiting on.
Now as far as that impressive speed is concerned, McCutchen ran like a maniac in the minors and he already is one of the fastest players in the game. No doubt McCutchen has 40 steal ability and quite possible 50. Its likely he gets to 40 this season as he further gets comfortable in his second full season as he will continue to hit leadoff at least for now. Whether McCutchen ever gets to 50 will be based on whether the Pirates move him down in the order like guys of similar skill set such as Alex Rios and Grady Sizemore have done. If he stays at leadoff, than 50 is certainly in his reach. However lets stay focused on 2011 for now and in that respect, McCutchen should hit the 40 steal mark this season.
As far as the home runs, that aspect of McCutchen’s game is likely to take some more time to develop. The 16 he hit in 570 at-bats last season was very good for his age and it bettered by the four the 12 he hit in 2009. Right now its reasonable to expect McCutchen to approach the 20 home run mark this season as he continues filling out his body. Can he reach 25 this season? Not likely but in time 30 could be the ceiling which when combined with the 40-steal potential would make McCutchen a first round draft selection for sure. Still the safe bet is to stick to the 20 home run mark for 2011 with anything more being a gift.
Looking at the remaining fantasy baseball stats when it comes to McCutchen, he is a safe bet to go over 90 runs scored hitting atop the lineup and if he had better hitters behind him, over 100 would be a sure thing. The RBI’s don’t figure to improve much more than the 56 he had last season as again the lineup protection is not conducive for much more than this. Finally, the average was at .286 the last two seasons and a mark around .290 should be attainable as McCutchen further refines his eye and discipline.
All in all, the sky is the limit for McCutchen who has so much talent its crazy. He reminds me of Bobby Abreu when he first came up and McCutchen profiles to eventually have the same type of production. There is no doubt in my mind that McCutchen can go 20/40 this seasons which would be borderline OF 1 production and so if you feel you need to reach a round of two higher to grab him for 2011 than by all means do what you have to do. He will be worth it without argument.
2011 PROJECTION: .291 95 R 19 HR 52 R 37 SB