The Pittsburgh Pirates have been playing great baseball lately, winning two straight games and seven of their previous ten. The Pirates have been getting contributions from a lot of role players, Pedro Alvarez is finally hitting home runs, Garrett Jones is hitting well, Travis Snider is a doubles machine lately and Starling Marte is arguably the Pirates’ best player in 2013 so far.
One player that hasn’t really done much recently is Andrew McCutchen. No one seems to want to acknowledge his struggles, so I’ll do it. I’ll be the bad guy. McCutchen is the Pirates’ best overall player, and really the only player the Pirates have that is known by the average baseball fan. I don’t think anyone expects McCutchen to duplicate what he did in 2012 with a .327 batting average and 31 home runs, but he needs to do better than what he is currently doing.
In just 20 games played so far in 2013, McCutchen is only hitting for a .243/.296/.432 line with two home runs and 12 RBI. He hasn’t recorded a hit in three straight games.
If McCutchen doesn’t soon start to produce, the Pirates winning ways won’t be able to be sustained. The Pirates’ lineup is better than it was last season, with the additions of Russell Martin and full seasons of Marte and Snider. However, the guys surrounding McCutchen in the lineup just aren’t good enough at this point in their careers to be able to carry an offense for extended periods of time.
To me, it looks like McCutchen is trying too hard to hit for power, as opposed to just being himself in the batters’ box. He is popping a lot pitches up, which is a definite sign of swinging too hard and he just looks out of control at times when he is hitting.
Without Andrew McCutchen, the Pirates hitters simply have too much pressure on themselves. With him, it takes a ton of pressure off of the supporting cast, making the entire offense run a lot more smoothly.