Last season, Pittsburgh Pirates outfield Andrew McCutchen finally started receiving accolades. But those of us that have seen that kid from day one recognized how close he was to greatness. Last season, he carried the Pirates for three-quarters of a season.
McCutchen’s biggest challenge was identifying his style of play. He’s clearly a five-tool player. Last season, he hit .327 (finishing second) with 31 HRs and 96 RBI. He also stole 20 bases and had a .400 on base percentage. He compiled 194 hits last season to lead the National League. On top of having unbelievable offensive tools. he’s a great defensive outfielder. In PNC Park‘s spacious center field, he covers it like it is nothing. He was rewarded with a Gold Glove last season.
My original question asked if he is the best best player in the National League? Well I see two concerns with his game. One is his strikeouts. He struck out 132 times last season. In his career, his strikeout totals have gone up every season. While he’s trying to hit for more power, he’s making less contact. With his speed and gap power, he needs to focus less on the long-ball and more on hitting line drives. As he continues to develop, the power will come. I’d also like to see him see more pitches. He averaged 3.88 pitches per play appearance last season. If he sees a few more pitches, he will find more pitches to drive, cut down the strikeouts and get on base more often.
Yes, I know; I didn’t answer the question. Because I am on the fence. As much as I would like to say yes, he still has a little work to do with his game. I’d even be willing to say that if he continues improving, we could be looking at the best player in baseball. But first things first.