Saturday, May 9, 2015

A Thorough Analysis of McCutchen's Knee

Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs is one of the best baseball analysts. He wrote a very thorough analysis of the Pirates' star center fielder Andrew McCutchen yesterday. FanGraphs can be a little stat-heavy and therefore daunting to some fans. However, Sullivan's contribution was to Just A Bit Outside (JABO), the Fox Sports site curated by longtime analyst Rob Neyer and featuring Emmy-winning journalist Ken Rosenthal. JABO articles scale back the graphs and numbers in favor of great writing. 

The link to Sullivan's excellent article is here. It's worth reading in its entirety. The key points, though, are:

  1. McCutchen has never had a streak in his career anywhere as bad as this one.
  2. He is not pulling the ball with authority, i.e., he's not making hard contact to left field.
  3. He's acknowledged discomfort in his left knee.
  4. His swing (Sullivan provides videos) has featured a marked weight transference from his back leg to his front leg. For the right-handed hitting McCutchen, that's from his right leg to his left leg.
  5. His swing this year has much less of a shift from his right leg to his left leg. That's consistent with a problem with his left leg, and explains McCutchen's hitting issues. 
Sullivan concludes:
The matter with Andrew McCutchen is his swing. Maybe he's still in pain, and maybe he's not still in enough pain for it to matter. But regardless, he has a swing that's seemingly compensating for an uncomfortable left leg. And that's not the swing of a successful Andrew McCutchen.
I know, McCutchen's 6-for-13 with two doubles in his last three games. Maybe he's figured things out and has repaired his swing. Sullivan's well-researched article gives us all something to watch when McCutchen steps to the plate.

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