We are coming of the end of one of the most fun seasons I can remember. It was highlighted with a division race that came down to the very last day, a 13-inning thriller in which we eliminated one of the most insufferable teams in baseball, and the first time in team history that we appeared in the playoffs in back to back seasons.
Unfortunately, we fell flat at the very end. Our offense was dominated in the playoffs to the tune of 4 runs in 40 innings (that's a 0.90 ERA against). We ended up with more strikeouts than baserunners over those final four games. And while our starting pitching allowed 5 runs in 22.1 innings (2.01 ERA), it was nowhere near enough to offset the poor showing (to put it mildly) by the offense.
As it happens, the offensive ineptitude was far from a playoff-specific issue. We ended up with an 87 wRC+, which was good (?) for 25th in baseball. Here are some other stats with our major league rank in parentheses: 8.2 BB% (20th), 22.6 K% (13th), 0.36 BB/K (21st), 45.9 GB% (5th), 34.4 Hard Hit% (18th), 32.0 O-Swing% (9th), 62.2 O-Contact% (19th), 11.5 SwStr% (7th). Each and every one of those statistics paints the same picture: A well-below-average offensive team that swings at breaking pitches too much, doesn't make enough hard contact, strikes out too much, doesn't walk enough, and grounds out more than they should. This is a profile that is highly susceptible to elite pitching. In that regard, the playoff performance was all-too-predictable.
Knowing this, the goal should be to improve the profile of the offense while also raising it's talent level. Assuming the team does nothing else to fundamentally change the nature of the lineup (like say, trading a certain third baseman), half the lineup should be pretty well set: Nolan Arenado at third base, Trevor Story at shortstop, David Dahl and Charlie Blackmon in the outfield. The team seems to think that second base will be filled internally with a competition between prospects. This leaves the third outfield spot, first base, and catcher.
Enter Andrew McCutchen. He turned 32 last month, and he is no longer an MVP caliber player, but he is still a top talent. Here's his career numbers and 2018 numbers for each statistic I listed earlier:
Stat, Career, 2018, Rockies
wRC+ 135, 120, 87
BB% 12.0, 13.9, 8.2
K% 18.2, 21.3, 22.6
BB/K 0.66, 0.66, 0.36
GB% 40.4, 40.7, 45.9
Hard% 37.5, 35.2, 34.4
O-Swing 23.6, 25.0, 32.0
O-Cont 64.4, 69.2, 62.2
SwStr% 8.8, 8.7, 11.5
Here is a picture of a player who has a drastically different profile than the whole Rockies roster. He is patient, unafraid to take a walk, disciplined, strikes out (a bit) less than the Rockies, doesn't bite as much at breaking pitches, and doesn't swing through a lot of pitches. I put up both his career statistics and his 2018 statistics to demonstrate that while he isn't an MVP anymore, he is still a very good player who hasn't hit his decline. Additionally, this is a profile of a player who isn't reliant on physical tools to produce. Instead, he is much more reliant on a professional approach and good pitch recognition. This is a profile of a player who has tremendous potential to age well, as opposed to, say, a Carlos Gonzalez. I should also mention that he has played in 146 or more games in each of the past nine seasons, so he is less of an injury concern than anybody else we could consider.
Another plus: Because of a decline in defense and traditional counting statistics, he is not projected to score a huge contract. MLB Trade Rumors has him projected to get a 3 year deal at $45 million total. For a player who fills one of our biggest positional needs, can reliably start every day with an above-average bat, and brings a disciplined approach that this lineup is sorely lacking, that's a great bargain.
Let's make it happen.
Editor's Note: This FanPost was originally published at 11:20 am MT on November 5, 2018.