Whether it’s an analyst, or a fan, or a writer, or a blogger, we all love to make sweeping declarations when it comes to sports. I made one earlier this year when I declared Matt Kemp to be the best player in Major League Baseball. That may have been just a little bit premature.
There’s little doubt that Kemp is the best athlete in baseball. But as it stands right now, Andrew McCutchen may be the best player in baseball.
It is now August and the Pittsburgh Pirates are in the thick of a playoff race. Though there are some other factors that have helped them play so well this year, without Andrew McCutchen, there’s likely no playoff chase and no potential reality for October glory this season.
McCutchen’s numbers really do speak for themselves. His .373 average is tops in the league by a mile. He’s on pace to easily eclipse his career high for home runs (22 right now) and is in the top 20 in the league in RBIs, with 66. His combination of power and speed make him a threat in multiple ways.
Right up there with his bat is his glove. McCutchen’s range is incredible, and he should easily win more than a few Gold Gloves out there when all is said and done.
The scary part is, McCutchen could still get better. His power numbers have continued to improve each year he’s been in the league and he could end up a 30/30 guy within a couple of years, if he starts swiping a few extra bags a year.
Normally in the business of developing talent and then selling high on that talent, the pieces have finally come together for the Pittsburgh Pirates, and it starts with the rise of Andrew McCutchen. He’s the building block the Bucs, with all five of his tools on display every night.
Having intelligently already locked him up on a new six-year contrat extension this spring, McCutchen is the centerpiece of club that is on the verge of regular contention in the National League. He should take home the NL MVP award this season and I have no reservations in saying that Andrew McCutchen has become the best player in baseball.
Though I do look forward to the imminent debate of whether it’s McCutchen or Mike Trout. That’s a debate that should be an interesting one among baseball fans for at least the next couple of years.