Pittsbugh Pirates OF Andrew McCutchen is slumping at the plate once again.

No one ever expected his level of production from the middle months to last forever, but it seems as though Pittsburgh Pirates CF Andrew McCutchen has fallen off of another cliff.

On the season, McCutchen is hitting .276/.364/.473 with 23 home runs, 24 doubles, and two triples.  His OPS+ of 118 has fallen over the past few weeks but the total itself is respectable.  Overall to this point, McCutchen has had a nice bounce back season.

That being said, it has been a tale of three seasons for McCutchen.  Up until May 23, the former MVP was hitting .200/.271/.359 with six home runs in 45 games.  From May 24 through August 8, McCutchen hit .362/.464/.651 with 17 home runs in 65 games.  From August 9 until now, McCutchen is hitting .198/.263/.242 with zero home runs in 25 games.  His current slump is nearing a month in time.  What has changed?

Losing patience

When McCutchen was lighting it up for the Pittsburgh pirates in during June and July, he was taking his walks.

During his torrid 65 game stretch, McCutchen was walking 14.9 percent of the time while only striking out 16.3 percent of the time.  His 0.9 BB/K ratio wasn’t quite Joey Votto-like, but it was still elite.

During his current 25 game slump, McCutchen is walking just 8.1 percent of the time while striking out at a rate of 20.2 percent.  His 0.4 BB/K ratio has basically been cut in half.

Slightly off

The uptick in strikeouts is not drastic, though the contact McCutchen has managed to produce has not been up to standards.

When McCutchen was lighting it up for the Pittsburgh pirates in during June and July, he was taking his walks.

During the middle month hot streak, McCutchen had a hard hit rate of 39.8 percent.  Over the past 25 games his hard hit rate has fallen to 26.8 percent.  It is not as though he is supplementing hard contact for soft contact.  His soft contact rate has hovered around 17 percent all season.  What was hard contact in June and July is now medium contact.

During his hot streak, McCutchen was hitting more line drives (26.3 percent) and fly balls (37.6 percent).  He only hit ground balls 36 percent of the time.  That has recently changed.  Over the past 25 games, McCutchen has hit grounders 52.1 percent of the time.  His line drives (18.3 percent) and fly balls (29.6 percent) have dipped considerably.

McCutchen’s current issues at the plate have created sort of a chain reaction starting with the pitching he sees.  Pitchers are being more cautious due to newfound success (or old found success).  McCutchen is not getting as many pitches to hit.  He is swinging at worse pitches and not taking enough walks.  Contact has been made on more difficult pitches.  As a result, McCutchen is not squaring up the ball nearly as much.

Final Thoughts

McCutchen will be fine.  His overall numbers for the Pittsburgh Pirates this year have been solid.  He is not washed up as many thought he was in mid-May.  He is definitely worthy of the team option that will be picked up at season’s end.

The current slump McCutchen is going through is different than last year and earlier this year.  He isn’t pressing like he was.  He’s not arguing every little call.  The overall body language is more positive.  He is playing a nice centerfield.  He still smiles.

If anything, McCutchen may have proved to himself that he’s still got it.  The slump he’s going through now is just a matter of adjustments.  Pitchers have adjusted to McCutchen by giving him less to hit.  It is now time for McCutchen to adjust back by being more selective and picking out pitches he can hit.

Image credit – Keith Allison – Flickr Creative Commons

Nathan Hursh

Nathan is a graduate of Duquesne University with a degree in journalism. He has been a lifelong Pirates fans and loves watching baseball. Along with baseball, Nathan also has a passion for watching football and basketball. When he is not sitting on his couch indulging in sports, Nathan likes to be active outside. Along with Twitter, he can also be found on Instagram at nathan_hursh.