The Dynamic Andrew McCutchen
The Pittsburgh Pirates just keep rolling along in the NL Central, leading the division with a 66-44 record, good for an even .600 winning percentage and a 1.5 game lead on their NL Central rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals. The Pirates have had an excellent season in every aspect of the game, but the man at the center of it all, is Andrew McCutchen. Just before the start of the 2013 regular season, in a previous article about the Pirates, I said that if McCutchen had a good year, the Pirates would win a handful of games because of his efforts alone, and I was not wrong. McCutchen is the nucleus of the offense, and despite the breakout season from Starling Marte and Pedro Alvarez, the impact McCutchen brings with all 5 of his tools makes him one of the most dynamic players in the league, one of the most valuable players in the league, and is a candidate for NL MVP.
Currently, “Cutch” is batting .304, with 15 home runs, 61 RBI, 23 stolen bases, a .375 OBP, a .498 slugging percentage, and an OPS of .872. McCutchen is around the top 5 in almost every offensive category and even though McCutchen may not be hitting as many big flies as he did in 2012, he has turned it on with the power stroke since the all-star break, clubbing 5 homers. Despite not hitting home runs with the same frequency as last year, he still has 47 extra base hits.
When examining some advanced statistics on McCutchen, a few stats stand out at me. McCutchen isn’t striking out as much as he did last year, lowering his K% to 15%, compared to 19.6% last season. He has raised his speed score to 6.1 this season compared to 5.5 last season. He is hitting a higher percentage of line drives at 24.6% (21.9% 2012), and has lowered his ground ball percentage to 40.6% (43.8% in 2012). What this shows me is that McCutchen is truly putting the bat to the ball with even more authority this season and is putting the ball in play. One reason his average isn’t as high as last season is because his BABIP is down at .333 compared to .375 last season, but McCutchen is making the defense work and is becoming a difficult man to strike-out. His speed score being at its highest point score since 2010 also shows me that Cutch has worked on wreaking havoc on the basepaths once again, and utilizing his speed to make life difficult on opposing pitchers. The final stat I want to point out is that currently McCutchen has a 5.2 WAR. He is truly one of the most valuable players to his team based off of basic and advanced statistics.
Highlighting some off-field reasons, why I like McCutchen so much, and even though off the field impact on a team does not usually (or never) helps translate into MVP awards is that McCutchen is in it for the team. McCutchen signed a contract extension with the Pirates on March 6th, this past off-season. The extension was 6 years with the option for a 7th year, all at a very team friendly price. 6 years at 51.5 million is truly a steal for the Pirates and will give them financial flexibility for years to come. He also has an impact on the clubhouse being the leader and is truly an all around great guy in the community. McCutchen does it all on the field and off the field.
Andrew McCutchen is one of the best all around players in the entire MLB. Speed, power, average, outfield arm, and defense. All 5 tools MLB executives salivate for in a player. McCutchen delivers in all 5 aspects. He is great in the community, and loves playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Andrew McCutchen is truly dynamic and is a leading candidate to be the 2013 NL MVP, especially if the Pirates continue their hot play and make the post-season.