Pittsburgh Pirates: 5 Reasons Andrew McCutchen Should Be the NL MVP
5 Reasons Andrew McCutchen Should Win NL MVP
This is not Andrew McCutchen's first time being in the discussion of National League Most Valuable Player. McCutchen, or "Cutch", was a finalist last year and has repeated that honor this year. Pittsburgh Pirates fans are clamoring for a NL MVP to be a Pirate. The last time the Pirates had a NL MVP in their dugout was in 1992 when Barry Bonds won the award before defecting to the San Francisco Giants.
That 1992 season still stings for Pirates fans, and this would be just another way for the fans to be able to put the past -- and more importantly that season -- behind them and start moving forward. The Pirates have such a bright future ahead of them that this would be a huge feather in their caps after a magical 2013 season.
This resurgence of the Pittsburgh Pirates started with Andrew McCutchen. McCutchen has single-handedly saved baseball in Pittsburgh. Before "Cutch" was called up to the Steel City things were bad. Players were being traded and the organization was getting nothing in return. Draft picks were falling flat on their faces and never amounting to major league talent. The Pirates were by far the worst organization in all of baseball.
When McCutchen showed up and Neal Huntington took over as General Manager, the pieces were in place for a team that could actually contend. Not just for a winning season but for a championship.
Andrew McCutchen is worthy of the National League MVP award, and there are a myriad of reasons why he should win the award. I am going to focus on the top 5 reasons why Andrew McCutchen should be the first Pittsburgh Pirate baseball player to win the award since 1992.
5. Hitting Prowess
Andrew McCutchen has always been a competent hitter. Even though his batting average went down from .327 to .317 in the 2013 season, McCutchen became a better hitter this year, and the statistics back up that statement. McCutchen's strikeouts decreased by 31 and his walks increased by eight. This is the sign of a patient hitter that isn't going up there just to "take his hacks" but rather is being selective in his hitting and waiting for his pitch. All things considered McCutchen's power numbers are down from the previous year across the board. Less home runs, less RBI and less hits doesn't mean he was less affective. McCutchen was no longer a surprise to pitchers and was getting the "superstar treatment" in terms of being pitched around and not getting a lot of quality pitches. The awards are starting to roll in for "Cutch's" 2013 season. McCutchen won his second career and second consecutive Silver Slugger award. Simply said, McCutchen is good enough that pitchers will pitch around him to get to the cleanup hitter, and that is something that can't be said across the MLB landscape.
4. Defensive Capabilities
In 2012, Andrew McCutchen won a "Golden Glove" award but was snubbed of the award in 2013. However, most baseball fans will simply say that he was more deserving of the award in 2013 rather than 2012. Sure, McCutchen's errors increased from 2012 to 2013, but Andrew McCutchen became a smarter fielder this season and his outfield assists prove that. Some often forget that "Cutch" is still a young player who is learning some of the finer details in the game of baseball. McCutchen's assists increased from three to 11 over the past two seasons, and on top of that who can forget those magical diving catches that kept the Pirates in games and energized the team? McCutchen has a flare for the dramatic when in the field, and his risk taking often times leads to errors. But his fielding was a huge improvement and another reason why he is deserving of the NL MVP award.
3. Base Stealing
In my opinion, one of the biggest knocks on Andrew McCutchen was his base stealing. You watch him run the base paths with dreads flying around and ask yourself, "Why isn't this guy stealing more bases?" Not only was McCutchen not stealing bases, but he was also getting thrown out at a surprising rate. In 2012, McCutchen was caught stealing 12 out of 32 attempts. For someone with McCutchen's speed the caught stealing number is entirely too high. In 2013, "Cutch" was caught stealing 10 out of 37 attempts which a step in the right direction. Watching McCutchen on the base paths shows a player who is studying the pitchers more, picking his spots and taking advantage of taking a base. With that being said, with McCutchen's speed he doesn't get the steal sign as often as you would think. Simply put, with his speed a single to right center field could score a run when McCutchen stands on first. Nonetheless, his approach to getting better in all aspects of the team is a sign of a MVP.
2. Overall Excellence
Andrew McCutchen has only been in the major leagues for four full seasons, and in those four seasons he has been an All-Star three straight years, garnered a Gold Glove award, two silver slugger awards, and was a finalist last year for the NL MVP award. McCutchen has the resume for a National League MVP, but he also has the work ethic to back it up. Not many athletes approach professional athletics like Andrew McCutchen. Another Pittsburgh athlete comes to mind, and that is Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby. Both athletes are never satisfied with their current status with their teams, with their skill sets and with the way their team finished the season unless they win a championship. That's the sign of a true winner and someone that isn't just another player but someone that truly excels at their occupation.
1. Pirates' Most Valuable Player
Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle was asked in the National League Division Series against the St. Louis Cardinals who he thought the NL MVP would be. His answer was legendary. "To me, the NL MVP is the baddest dude in the league, and to me, Andrew McCutchen is the baddest dude in the League." Not only is "Cutch" the baddest dude in the NL, but he is also the team's most valuable player. Those words often times get over used. When someone is truly "valuable" the team would seriously struggle without them. The Pittsburgh Pirates' offense was putrid at times last season, and could you imagine how bad it would have been if McCutchen were lost for any stretch of time? McCutchen's WAR (Wins Above Replacement) was the best in the National League with 7.5 games. That is an astounding number and top 3 in all of Major League Baseball. Plain and simple, McCutchen isn't just the Pirates' MVP, he is worthy of the National League MVP award.