The Pittsburgh Pirates were knocked out of the playoffs in the National League Division Series, and they’ve had plenty of time to sit back and watch their division rivals from St. Louis enjoy success in reaching the World Series. While it’s a bitter pill to swallow, especially falling to a division rival, it was a brilliant season for the Bucs, and there is likely more to come in the future.
There are still things for the Pirates to keep an eye on this season, though, particularly the end-of-year accolades. The Pirates should be in the mix for a few awards, with the largest obviously being the National League Most Valuable Player Award, which stands an excellent chance of going to Andrew McCutchen.
In fact, McCutchen should be considered a heavy favorite for the award with the success that he had in 2013. A superstar in every sense of the word, Cutch impacted the game in virtually every way possible for the Buccos throughout the season, and a playoff appearance by the club should only strengthen his chances for some hardware.
The centerfielder posted the kind of season we’ve come to expect from him once again in 2013. He was his steady, productive self at the plate, a nuisance for opposing teams on the basepaths, and his defensive metrics actually looked as good as they have at any point in his career.
From an offensive standpoint, the numbers from Cutch really should come as no surprise. He got on base at a clip over .400 once again, going for a career-best .404 OBP. His batting average did dip a bit, to .317, but was still good for seventh in the National League. He finished sixth in the NL in runs, third in hits, and sixth in stolen bases, in addition to 21 home runs and 84 RBIs.
What his offensive numbers helped lead to was an offensive WAR of 7.5, good for the best in the National League. When you add in his defensive play, and his UZR was at 6.9, easily the highest mark of his career, you have a player good for an 8.2 WAR, second best in the National League, behind only Carlos Gomez.
McCutchen doesn’t have a ton of clear competition for the NL MVP Award. You talk about maybe Paul Goldschmidt, but the playoff appearance by the Pirates is likely enough to put McCutchen over the top as your NL MVP, simply because that’s the way the world works. Not that he’s not completely deserving of such an accolade. If he does, in fact, win it, it’ll be a well deserved honor for one of the game’s brightest stars.