Andrew McCutchen had better make some more room in his trophy case. Last night provided a great example of the type of player McCutchen has been for the Pirates all season, going 2-3 at the plate with a pair of RBI, and making an insane diving catch in the left center gap that saved two runs for the Pirates, in a game they would ultimately win on a Josh Harrison walk-off home run.
While baseball is very much a team game, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that McCutchen was the primary reason the Pirates won last night, and he’s been easily the most important position player for the Pirates, both in 2012 and in 2013. As far as MVP candidacy goes, McCutchen has to be the favorite to win in the N.L. right now. His 6.0 WAR is second among N.L. position players, putting him behind only Carlos Gomez of the Brewers. McCutchen should easily beat out Gomez in the vote, because his team has been successful, as opposed to Gomez’ team, which is mired in last place.
McCutchen is a great candidate for MVP, but not just for the MVP vote, but for the silver slugger as well. Among N.L. center fielders, he ranks number one in batting average, number two in home runs, and number one in RBI. He has the second most stolen bases among N.L. centerfielders, behind only Carlos Gomez. He ranks second in runs, with seventy, behind only Shin-Soo Choo of the Reds. His sixty-nine strikeouts are the second least among N.L. centerfielders. Suffice to say, he’s putting balls in play, and he’s driving the ball incredibly well this season. There is no reason that Cutch shouldn’t repeat as the N.L. Silver Slugger winner for center field.
McCutchen’s defensive numbers have been an improvement over last year, when he won the Gold Glove as well. For better or worse, offensive prowess often contributes to consideration for the award, and McCutchen has provided plenty of that this year. His total defensive runs saved is a career high nine, compared to last year’s negative five. He has a career high in ultimate zone rating as well, at 6.4 on the season. He’s been better than ever defensively, and he won the gold glove then, so it would seem likely that he repeats for this award if he continues his current pace.
McCutchen’s competition for MVP, Silver Slugger, and the Gold Glove is decent, but there’s absolutely no reason why he’s not a viable candidate for all three of those, and likely to win at least two of them. He’s been everything we could have hoped for, and with a few weeks left in the season, he’s been instrumental in putting the Pirates in position to be a playoff team. The craziest thing is that he hasn’t yet gone on some insane tear like he did last year, he’s just been consistently good all year. He is who we thought he would be, and shows no signs of letting up anytime soon. He’s the type of player that can put a team on his back and take them to the playoffs, and that’s exactly what he’s doing with the 2013 Pirates.