|McCutchen having a quiet superstar season||| Print |||Send|
Written by Jim Mancari (Contact & Archive) on July 22, 2012
Maybe McCutchen doesn’t get the national attention because he plays in Pittsburgh or maybe it’s because he’s not making $20-plus million per year. But the budding superstar will become a household name if he can duplicate his first half success and win an MVP award.
Photo by Keith Allison, used under creative commons license.
McCutchen is doing things this season that Pirates fans haven’t seen since a young Barry Bonds in the early 1990s. And the scary part is he’s only getting better.
The 25-year-old is just 5-feet-10-inches and weighs just 185 pounds. You wouldn’t think that this is the build of a run-producing power threat, but McCutchen is showing that size really doesn’t matter in baseball.
He’s leading the league with a .366 batting average, a .640 slugging percentage and 203 total bases. He’s hit 20 home runs, drove in 63 runs and stolen 14 bases. If there is a player who fits the definition of five-tool player, it’s McCutchen.
Despite these great numbers, McCutchen still isn’t thought of as one of the top players in the game. The Pirates are playing great baseball, but if you ask any non-Pirates fan to name a few players, that may be a tough task.
The Pirates have been so bad for so long that they’ve become irrelevant. They always get written off as a last place team every season, but with the help of McCutchen, they’ve turned a few heads this year.
Even so, it’s been McCutchen who has done the bulk of the heavy lifting in the Pirates lineup. Neil Walker, Garrett Jones and Pedro Alvarez have all been solid role players for Pittsburgh, but the team is hands down built around McCutchen.
The team’s stating pitching has been surprisingly good, but the presence of a young leader in McCutchen has enabled the team to add momentum to its hot start. The Pirates are battling for a playoff spot for the first time in a while.
The Pirates were very wise to lock up McCutchen in March to a six-year, $51.5 million contract extension. Based on his production, this is an incredible discount to the Pirates.
Can the Pirates sustain their success and actually play meaningful baseball in September? The next two months will determine that, but if there’s any chance for a playoff push, the team will need McCutchen to continue producing consistently.
McCutchen really has a chance to leave an indelible mark on this game as he’ll be an exciting player to watch for years to come.
As players like Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Chipper Jones begin to close the book on their historic careers, the torch will be passed to the younger stars. McCutchen will be looked upon to carry that torch as he continues to revolutionize baseball in Pittsburgh.