McCutchen was talked about a lot on Bill James Online because of his bat speed. He had a lot of potential and was expected to be an easy hall of famer. While he certainly has had a border line hall of fame career, he hasn’t been the superstar everyone expected. However, to me it is impossible to meet expectations when they think you will be the greatest player of all time.
It could arguably be said he was one of the five best players in the game from 2012 to 2015. He was in the top 5 of the National League voting each of those years with a first and two thirds. His MVP was well deserved.
In 2016, McCutchen had a bad year. He was an average hitter at the plate (for him that is bad) and his fielding according to WAR was well below average. His Wikipedia article said he was third in the league in outfield putouts, which makes his low score a little more puzzling. I do know that Centerfielders do make the most outfield putouts on almost every team. Baseball Reference WAR said McCutchen played before replacement level and that was in 153 games. He had better seasons after but has never hit the 2012 to 2015 level. He hasn’t even been close. It seems something happened to him somewhere in 2016 and I never found out why. I do know it looks like more of a struggle for him at the plate.
Andrew McCutchen was the best player on a Pittsburg team that went to the playoffs 3 straight years, coming from nowhere in 2013. The franchise had not been above .500 for 20 years until 2013. They made the playoffs off a wild card team and had to play the Cincinnati Reds in a one game playoff. In that game McCutchen went 2 for 3 with 2 walks in a 6-2 Pittsburg victory. McCutchen scored the third run for the Pirates after leading off the third with a single. What I remember most about that game was McCutchen celebrating in center field with Starling Marte the left fielder and Marion Byrd the right fielder. They had such joy with advancing in the playoffs. I doubt that McCutchen had such a joyful feeling on the ball field again.
The Pirates then played the favorite St. Louis Cardinals in a 3 of 5 series in the next round of the playoffs. They took a 2-1 lead in the series but were able to score only a run a game in games 4 and 5 to lose the series. There were some great moments for an exciting young team.