On the surface, 2018 looked like a step back for former National League MVP Andrew McCutchen . He finished with 83 runs, 20 home runs, 65 RBI and 14 stolen bases with a .255/.368/.424 slash line. However, looking past his batting average, and considering he spent most of his season in San Francisco, the reduction of his counting statistics needed to be adjusted for.

But, McCutchen also recorded a career high 43.4 hard hit percentage. After a sluggish start, he also bounced back in the second half with 11 home runs in only 217 at-bats with a 17.6 walk percentage versus a 20.5 strikeout rate. Weighing down his numbers, the accompanying .244 batting average.

Beneath the surface statistics, some subtle changes evolved. McCutchen turned in the lowest chase rate (swings and misses at pitches outside the strike zone) of his career with a 19.4 percent mark. His contact rate held steady with a lower swinging strike percentage as well. When looking at his batted ball profile, one needs...