Andrew McCutchen has always played well in March for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Every spring McCutchen is someone we love watching when we visit Bradenton.
But this year, McCutchen is taking it to a different level. He appeared calm and confident when we had eyes on him, perhaps relaxed from his brand new contract. What has gone mostly unnoticed is the fact that he has made changes in the offseason which have improved upon his already solid offensive numbers from Grapefruit League action.
In 2010, he hit .351 with a homer, five doubles and a triple. His OPS was .893.
In 2011, he hit .348 with three homers and four doubles. His OPS was .967.
This March, McCutchen has taken it to another level. He is now hitting .359. He is slugging a career spring best .615. He has a ridiculous OPS of 1.072. He has hit three bombs in his last 21 at-bats. McCutchen is without question the most talented and established player in black and gold. It’s been that way since he was called to PNC Park following the trade of Nate McLouth to Atlanta.
He is the face of the Pittsburgh Pirates. The 25-year old has always been able to flash the ability of one of the very best players in the National League. Yet, each season has failed to live up to the billing as one of the best players in all of baseball.
Perhaps 2012 will be the year it happens. Looking at the Pirates lineup it appears that the herculean task of transforming into one of the best in the NL– to one of the greatest in the game–won’t come easy. If the Bucs lineup struggles to produce, it’s hard imagining McCutchen seeing many pitches to hit.
It’s hard to believe, but the hyper-talented McCutchen already has almost 2,000 career plate appearances. It looks like he isn’t real happy with how some of those from late in the season last year turned out. He is showing more power this spring. He hasn’t been caught on the basepaths. His plate patience is showing with seven walks this spring.
Neal Huntington said the Pirates felt strongly about the player McCutchen was going to become when they signed him to his new contract. We’ve seen a lot of exciting plays from McCutchen from walkoff homeruns to catches in the outfield that make us scream in admiration of his abilities.
It’s true we’ve seen a lot already, but just thinking about what lies ahead…..that’s enough to make even the most skeptical Bucco fan smile.