Andrew McCutchen is your current MLB leader in stolen bases in this early 2013 season, which happens to be exactly where he wants to be.
In fact, if the Pittsburgh Pirates star could have it his way, he’d be at the top of that category all season long. The 26-year old did vow to establish a new career-high in stolen bases (currently at 33) in 2013 by going back to his roots, and at this rate, he’ll easily exceed those expectations and then some.
McCutchen had been the difference-maker for the Pirates for some time now, but even after a breakout 31-homer, 6.8 fWAR 2012 to really establish himself as one of the game’s brightest, the stolen based totals continued to drop, this time to a career-low 20.
Much of that has to do with the fact that he was relied on to drive in runs, but as a five-tool player with a near-unlimited ceiling, Cutch is looking to make a difference with all of those tools this season.
That includes running on the bases, which he’s had little trouble doing so far. One only needs to look at his latest display in the seventh inning of Thursday’s game between the Pirates and the Chicago Cubs, where McCutchen made victim of not one, but two different Cubs hurlers, stealing second off Shawn Camp and then third against James Russell — his third and fourth stolen bases respectively — as the Pittsburgh fought for a tying run.
It didn’t end up working in the team’s favour in the end (the Bucs lost 3-2), but it does illustrate just how much more of an impact the star center fielder could make when he’s not hesitant about going when needed.
Sure, his .917 OPS over 12 PA is to be expected, but he’s now also finding ways to contribute and help the team scratch out runs even when at-bats don’t go his way. It’s not often that a player can put himself 90 feet from home plate after reaching only on a fielding error, but McCutchen is one of those players with that raw athleticism to make it happen.
If he’s finally deciding to put all of that natural ability to good use ahead of his age-27 prime, well, I think it’s safe to say that a career-best stolen base total will not be his greatest achievement in 2013.