After having the franchise’s first winning season and trip to the playoffs in 21 years, the Pittsburgh Pirates will look to build upon the success they found last year. In order to do so, they will rely on Andrew McCutchen more than ever in 2014.
The 2013 Pirates were baseball’s “feel good” story of the year, appearing on ESPN and MLB Tonight on a daily basis as they battled the Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals for first place in the NL Central and finished the season with 94 wins.
Most of the team’s success has came through the swing and on field play of McCutchen, who was named the NL MVP after the season. In 2013, Cutch had a .317 batting average with 21 home runs and 27 steals en route to his best season of his young career. McCutchen has played in over 150 games each of the past four seasons for the Pirates while maintaining a .296 career batting average, a true testament to his durability and work ethic.
This offseason McCutchen has stayed busy. After proposing to his girlfriend on the Ellen DeGeneres show in December, he reported to voluntary workouts in Bradenton, Fla. in early January. At just 27-years-old, McCutchen has gravitated to the role of elder in the Pirates’ outfield and in the clubhouse. His work ethic in the offseason along with a strong presence on the field has helped him to become one of Manager Clint Hurdle‘s most trusted guys.
With a vast outfield to patrol, McCutchen and the rest of the Pirates seem like they are ready to build on the newfound success the team has had in recent years. The speed of Starling Marte, Gregory Polanco and McCutchen will surely be one of the most interesting trios in the majors to watch track down fly balls. With McCutchen leading the team, the chemistry and excitement around “Pirate City”, Fla. could only be met with the enthusiasm that the Boston Red Sox have at their spring training.
Even with the departure of A.J. Burnett, the Pirates will be in good shape to get back to the playoffs, and McCutchen will be the guy to lead them to the promise land.
For Pirates fans, fantasy baseball managers, or any other baseball enthusiasts, 2014 will be another year of dominance by Andrew McCutchen and the Pittsburgh Pirates in the NL Central.