Heidi Watney: Expect A Bounce Back Year From McCutchen

The 2016 MLB season was not kind to Andrew McCutchen. The five-time All-Star and 2013 NL MVP hit just .256 with a .336 OBP and six steals – all career-lows. The power numbers – 24 homers and 79 RBIs – weren’t far off of his career standard, but the 30-year-old is certainly hoping for a return-to-form season.

“I think this is going to be a big bounce-back year for Andrew McCutchen,” MLB Network broadcaster Heidi Watney said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “I just love him as a guy. He’s a great guy. It was a down year for him obviously last year and then getting moved to right field – that motivation will be back.”

Watney is also excited to see how Andrew Benintendi, 22, fares in his second season and how Albert Pujols, 37, fares in his 17th.

“There’s so many great storylines, so many great guys to watch,” she said. “But for me, I like to see the guys that maybe had a little bit of a down year last year. I want to see them come back to their form. Andrew McCutchen, Dallas Keuchel, Felix Hernandez, Bryce Harper – the list goes on and on of guys who really want to get back to that elite level.”

Watney, though, was frustrated by the Giants’ season-opening 6-5 loss to Arizona. Madison Bumgarner was untouchable through six innings, hit two home runs and struck out 11 Diamondbacks – and still lost.

“It was absolutely crushing for this girl who grew up a Giants fan,” Watney said. “He takes a perfect game – a perfect game – into the sixth inning and at that point he’s already hit one of his home runs. (Then) he gives up three runs in the sixth, tie game, comes back in the bottom half and hits another home run to give the Giants the lead again – and then the bullpen gave it up. It was literally the Giants’ 2016 season in one game.”

New closer Mark Melancon couldn’t protect a one-run lead in the ninth, giving up RBI singles to Daniel Descalso and Chris Owings.

“With Mark Melancon at the back end, you (would) think (the bullpen) has to be better,” Watney said. “But the loss of Will Smith to Tommy John, that’s a big blow. He’s the left-handed guy they got to come (out of) the bullpen. So that’s tough. I think the Giants are going to have to do something to get better in their bullpen.”

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