Andrew McCutchen A+: This grade shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has paid attention to baseball this year. McCutchen has once again separated himself from a good player to a great one and is a top 3 outfielder in the entire MLB. Although statistically he was better last year, Cutch has been the anchor of the lineup and the catalyst to this playoff run. As opposed to last year when he faded down the stretch, Cutch picked the team up in August and September and carried them to the first Buctober in 20 years. He has a terrific .317.404/.508 triple slash, 21 homers, 84 RBIs, 27 stolen bases, and an outstanding 8.2 WAR, which is second best in all of baseball. McCutchen has also been terrific in the field, consistently coming up with big plays and saving runs. I will be astonished if Cutch is not the MVP this year.
Marlon Byrd A: Byrd came over in a late August trade and has done nothing but produced. In his short stint, Byrd has hit for a .318 average with 12 extra base hits, 17 runs batted in, and most importantly clobbered a ball off Cueto to start off his post season career. At 36 years young, Byrd has arguably had the best season of his long career. Besides his great stats I’d be stupid/suicidal to give a man that size any grade lower than an A. I do not get hazard pay. I definitely think it would be wise to ink Byrd to another year and have him manning that 5 spot for all of the 2014 season. He is the perfect right-handed complement to Morneau and Alvarez. He is also a fantastic placeholder until Gregory Polanco is ready to make his Major League debut. Byrd seems to love Pittsburgh and the fans and I’d love to welcome him back.
Starling Marte B+: In the beginning of the season there were actual questions of who was better between Marte and McCutchen. Clearly, McCutchen has put those questions to rest but Marte still proved to be a great asset. To begin the year, Marte took the league by storm and was a terrific leadoff hitter. He slowed down throughout the season and a late season hand contusion hurt his overall season stats but overall the 24 year old was one of the better players this season. He hit .280/.343/.440 with 35 runs driven in and an amazing 41 stolen bases. Marte became the first Pirates’ player since Andy Van Slyke to have double-digit doubles, triples, and homers, in one season. He was also a stud in the outfield, leading the league in runs saved. Between him and Cutch, not many balls fell in the North Side Notch. As Marte gets older and more disciplined, he’ll be one the best leadoff hitters in the league and will be a stable in left field at PNC for years. There will be a ton of Marte Partays held in Pittsburgh over the years.
Jose Tabata B: Tabata finally lived up to some of the hype. His numbers displayed the type of potential he showed in 2010 to get that long contract. With a .282/.342/.429 slash line he showed a combination of contact and some pop. Tabata played lights out when Marte went down and helped the team cross the finish line. Unfortunately, Tabata likely wont be anything more than a quality 4th outfielder, he does have the potential to help out when called upon.
Travis Snider C: In April and the beginning of May Snider appeared to have clicked and was showing off the skills that lead to him being a top prospect back in the day. However, the Lunch Box Hero quickly faded and was reduced to a very limited role. A mysterious toe injury had him sidelined for a month and a half and he didn’t get better in September. His grade comes out to average because of a clutch 9th inning homerun against the Brewers to guarantee the Pirates’ first .500 season.
Andrew Lambo INCOMPLETE: After personally starting a Free Lambo campaign the 25 year old was briefly used in late August and September. If he were graded on his Minor League season, he’d easily have an A+. Lambo showed the power that had him listed as a former top prospect and was lighting up minor league pitching. Lambo only had 30 plate appearances and delivered 7 hits, 3 of which went for extra bases. Lambo could still be a quality Major League player but he’ll have to really impress to play in front of Tabata and possibly Byrd next season. It’ll be interesting to see what management does with Lambo.
Felix Pie D: Unlike with Lambo, Pie is a known quantity. The 5-year veteran only had 29 at bats and could only muster 4 hits. He did, however, get on base a total of 6 times and scored 5 of those times. There isn’t much to say on Pie except that he was sparingly used and probably for good reason. He doesn’t offer much and likely wont be used at all next season.