The first thing you should know about Michael Cuddyer is how to say his last name, and since I’ve heard it mispronounced a few times in the last 24 hours, as a public service, we’ll share that it’s pronounced Cuh-DYE-er.
What should you know about him from a statistical perspective? We’re here to help on that front too.
He can hit
The primary purpose of this acquisition was to provide the team with a legit bat both in terms of ability to both reach base and hit for power. Cuddyer has a good track record in this regard.
Average Season 2009-2014
Cuddyer has a .279/.347/.466 batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage slashline, one enhanced by his .307/.362/.525 combo with the Rockies the last three seasons. He led the National League with a .331 batting average in 2013 and hit .332 in 49 games in an injury-shortened 2014.
Though Coors Field inflated Cuddyer’s numbers, that’s not to say he couldn’t hit outside that ballpark. Cuddyer hit .286 with 20 home runs in 538 road at-bats over the last three years.
Cuddyer is a respectable contact hitter who strikes out a modest amount (if he plays a full season, he’ll probably whiff 100 times). He’s historically better against left-handed pitching than right-handed pitching, but he flipped that trend during his time with the Rockies (.295 against lefties, .311 versus righties).
Though Cuddyer hit home runs to all fields in Colorado (nine of his 26 homers there were to the opposite field), he’s more likely to take aim at the left field wall at Citi Field (only two of his 20 homers on the road were opposite-field shots).
He can run (at least a little)
Cuddyer had a hamstring injury last season, which might slow him down a little bit, but his baserunning history is decent. He rates slightly above average for his career. Think along the lines of an older version of Daniel Murphy, though a bit bigger and a bit heavier.
Cuddyer is 32 of 39 on stolen base attempts over the last four seasons (he averaged 10 steals a season from 2011 to 2013)
He struggles in the field
Cuddyer’s defense is probably going to be a sore spot for Mets fans. His Defensive Runs Saved totals in the outfield the last five seasons are -10, -10, -8, -16 and -2 (remember the latter came in a 49-game season).
Cuddyer’s WAR was only 3.6 in his three seasons in Colorado and the reason for that was his defense was poor at an important spot.
Perhaps a move to left field would be to his benefit, though it’s going to come at the cost of unfamiliarity. Cuddyer has played nearly 7,500 innings in right field in his career. He’s played only 38 in left field.
The Mets can deal with this in a number of ways. Cuddyer’s biggest statistical weakness on defense is that he doesn’t do a good job catching balls hit to the deepest parts of the ballpark. That was a weakness for Eric Young Jr. as well a couple of years ago and the Mets handled that by positioning him deeper, which had a nice payoff.
The Mets could also make Cuddyer a six or seven-inning player in situations in which they had the lead and replace him with Young, Matt den Dekker or Kirk Nieuwenhuis in a manner similar to how the Royals would replace Nori Aoki in late-game situations this postseason.
Cuddyer’s arm rates decently by advanced metrics, though it’s one that may be better suited for left field than for right field at this point in his career.
As for playing first base, Cuddyer could do that on an as-needed basis. He played 55 games at first base for the Rockies the last three seasons and he rated exactly major-league average on defense.
The other sticking point here is Cuddyer’s health. He had a shoulder injury and hamstring injury in 2014, which sidelined him for nearly three-quarters of the season. In 2013, he missed time with an oblique injury and a neck strain. The oblique was an injury that was also an issue in 2012.
The Mets would probably be thrilled to get 130 games out of Cuddyer. He’s done that in four of the last six seasons, but only one of the last three.
The overall package
It’s tough to judge this move on its own because the Mets are almost certain to make other notable acquisitions. In a best-case scenario, Cuddyer probably projects to about a 2-WAR player per the different groups that do season projections. In a worst-case scenario, he's often injured, which means the Mets better have a backup plan in mind for him.
We’ll say this: Cuddyer is the type of player for whom, if this is their best move of the offseason, it will leave something to be desired. But if this comes as part of a package of moves that bolster the lineup, it may be looked at in a much different light.