Fantasy Baseball 2020: Breaking Down Andrew McCutchen, Top Outfield Sleepers

Martin FennContributor IIIMay 27, 2020

Philadelphia Phillies center fielder Andrew McCutchen reacts before a baseball game against the San Diego Padres, Monday, June 3, 2019, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Gregory Bull/Associated Press

Andrew McCutchen is one of the best baseball players of the last decade.

After getting his big break with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2009, McCutchen went on to make five consecutive National League All-Star teams between 2011 and 2015. He also finished in the top five in the NL MVP voting each year between 2012 and 2015, winning the award in 2013.

But for all his brilliance in Pittsburgh, it hardly feels as though McCutchen is held in the same high esteem as other veteran stars in baseball. Sure, the batting average and stolen base numbers have dipped with age, but "Cutch" is still one of the more dangerous hitters in baseball.

Fantasy baseball owners should take stock of McCutchen's consistency throughout the years, because he is being severely undervalued.


Top Sleeper Outfielders

Andrew McCutchen, Philadelphia Phillies

Matt Rourke/Associated Press

It might have seemed like McCutchen was entering the "journeyman" phase of his career prior to landing in Philadelphia.

McCutchen spent most of the 2018 season with the San Francisco Giants after spending the first nine years of his career with the Pirates. He was then acquired by the New York Yankees ahead of the now-defunct waiver deadline, promptly becoming a free agent at the end of the year.

The Phils signed McCutchen as part of their offseason overhaul, and it initially appeared he would be the offensive catalyst in their lineup. McCutchen slashed .256/.378/.457 with 10 homers in just 59 games. Unfortunately, McCutchen suffered a torn ACL in June, sidelining him for the remainder of the year.

An ACL tear is a tough injury for any athlete to come back from, but for MLB players, it's not as ominous as it might be for NBA or NFL stars. Moreover, McCutchen is going way too low in most leagues. His average draft position (ADP) of 225 puts him below the likes of Yasiel Puig, Mallex Smith and Kyle Tucker, per Fantasy Pros.

There is no reason McCutchen should be so low. He was well on his way to a ninth consecutive season of 20 or more homers prior to the injury, paired with the highest walk rate of his career, per FanGraphs.

Plus, with guys like Bryce Harper, Rhys Hoskins and J.T. Realmuto hitting behind him, McCutchen should score a ton of runs.

Concerns about age and durability are valid, but McCutchen's track record of success also makes him more deserving of a higher draft spot.


Ian Happ, Chicago Cubs

Matt York/Associated Press

Happ has had a strange career on the North Side of Chicago.

The 25-year-old had a breakout rookie campaign in 2017, slugging .514 with 24 homers in 115 games. He was slated to be the team's leadoff man ahead of the 2018 season, but strikeout woes eventually resulted in Happ playing more of a platoon role. But he still hit 15 homers, and the walk rate spiked as well. It seemed the Cubs had cause for patience.

Instead, Happ spent the majority of the 2019 season in the minor leagues. When he did get his chance, however, Happ certainly did damage. He slashed .264/.333/.564 with 11 homers in just 58 games, firmly establishing himself as a starting candidate in 2020.

Despite his power potential and the fact he can play multiple positions, Happ is going pretty low on most draft boards. His ADP of 276 places him below Randal Grichuk (.280 OBP in 2018) and Shogo Akiyama, who has yet to play a single game in the majors.

Happ was likely to be Chicago's starter in center field in 2020, and his slugging is impossible to ignore. Happ can also steal some bases and adds positional versatility to any given roster, which is always a major plus.


David Peralta, Arizona Diamondbacks

David Zalubowski/Associated Press

Peralta ranks just below McCutchen in terms of ADP. At first glance, his spot seems fitting.

The Venezuelan has had a really tough time staying healthy throughout the course of his career, including a 2019 season in which he played in just 99 games.

But the numbers are hard to ignore. Peralta has a career .824 OPS in Arizona, including .800-plus in each of the last two seasons. He hit 12 homers and 29 doubles last year despite the smaller sample size, and he also posted the best line drive rate of his career, per FanGraphs.

Peralta also deserves the benefit of the doubt considering he hits in the middle of a lineup also containing the Marte boys—Starling and Ketel—as well as Eduardo Escobar and Christian Walker.

Drafting Peralta comes with some risk, to be sure. But he has a good deal more upside than a number of guys going ahead of him. Plus, Peralta might be galvanized by the contract extension he received this past January.


All stats obtained via Baseball Reference and all fantasy information via Fantasy Pros, unless otherwise noted.