The New Andrew McCutchen


Aug 2, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen (22) reacts after getting hit with a pitch in the ninth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Andrew McCutchen has been through a lot in the 2014 Pittsburgh Pirates season.  The 5’10 Pirates juggernaut has been thrown at more than a barn door and has hit more bombs while playing less games.  A fractured rib has forced him to cheer his team from the bench–and yet there his team is…fighting for a chance to get into the MLB postseason. Andrew McCutchen is still Andrew McCutchen.  It seems like that will never change, in fact, it can be argued that he is giving more effort, than he ever has before.

The big number is more home runs in 2014 than 2013–in 103 less at bats.

Another eye catching number Andrew McCutchen has created in 2014 is wRC+ which shows McCutchen at 162 compared to 155 last season.

One thing that is showing up more and more is how McCutchen speaks about the game of baseball and how he perceives his competition.    The answers aren’t cliches.  Nothing cookie cutter.  It’s specific.  It sends a message and it appears to be working for a Pirates team holding the second MLB Wild Card in the National League.

As the superstar of a team that lives by the gospel of pitching inside, McCutchen is going to get thrown at numerous times during the season.  Some people fail to realize this.  It’s a fact.  Major League Baseball did absolutely nothing to protect their star, which is puzzling, and could lead to some very interesting marketing decisions down the road.  Colin Dunlap did a nice job on this topic in his article Cutch Needs To Start Taking Care of Cutch.

Aug 26, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen (22) crashes into the outfield wall after making a leaping catch on a ball hit by St. Louis Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter (not pictured) during the third inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Being Andrew McCutchen comes with a greater level of responsibility.  When he arrived in Pittsburgh, the team was in full rebuild mode.  The impact the Florida native has had in Pittsburgh has been dramatic–from being a laughingstock to being the one that creates the laughs with the ‘Plunder The Locks’ ESPN commerical.  It’s been a fun ride–almost impossible to comprehend.  Cutch is an offensive freak.  A baseball phenom.  A player that changed baseball in Pittsburgh.

And now it seems Cutch is changing as well.  The 2014 season has been completely different from the magic of 2013.  Injuries have hampered the ball club placing more pressure on McCutchen to deliver his team to the playoff promised land by himself.  Thankfully, the team has received offensive from other players leaving McCutchen to speak frankly, with an air of brutal honestly, and bristling with a confident edge.  It’s refreshing for a city that suffered through the worst ignominy a sports town had ever experienced.

Andrew McCutchen has taken the Pirates to new levels in 2014.

After failing to deliver with Pirates teammates on base last night against the Phillies, failing to win and create a season long winning streak, McCutchen had this to say:

"They had nothing.  They threw their pitches and we just missed them….to me…nothing. They did their job, did what they were supposed to do. We just didn’t do ours."

The Pirates still have two games against the Phillies.  Do you think that Cutch quote will be on the clubhouse bulletin board today.  Yeah, we guarantee it.  But McCutchen doesn’t care, he is confident that he can back it up.

Sep 3, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Shelby Miller (40) throws to a Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen (22) during the sixth inning at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

After St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Shelby Miller threw behind Andrew McCutchen, he didn’t pull any punches when saying this:

"He missed me, so, no harm done.  They had their shot and they missed me so we move on from there. I just missed a homer, almost. Until next time.He better had only taken one shot for where the location of the pitch was.  They had their chance…had their shot and got warned.  He wasn’t going to do it again and get thrown out of the game.  If there was no warning, he probably would have thrown at me again."

The Pirates had hit two Cardinals and Miller felt it necessary to go after McCutchen.  It’s baseball.  The Pirates were swept in the series.

Aug 2, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen (22) reacts after getting hit with a pitch in the ninth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Of course, the toughest moment for many this season was when Arizona Diamondbacks reliever Randall Delgado drilled McCutchen with a retaliation pitch after Ernesto Frieri beaned Paul Goldschmidt, fracturing his left hand.

"I should be thanking them — now I’m ready to go.  They did what they needed to do. They hit me. It’s water under the bridge. So we’ll move on. We’ll show up tomorrow ready to play and ready to win. Just remember: I don’t forget. I’m ready to go now."

Delgado missed on the first pitch of the at-bat.  The right hander went off speed away with the second pitch.  And then on the third pitch, Delgado put it right in McCutchen’s back. The Pirates superstar stayed in the game, Delgado was immediately ejected.  Snakes skipper claimed the pitch got away D-Backs reliever.

"Sure it did. I’m sure it did.  Just like the first pitch. I’m sure both of those got away from him … They had all game to retaliate. They had the first inning to retaliate. They had that first pitch to retaliate and missed. Throw a slider with the second pitch and then throw up and in on the next pitch. Are you trying to hurt me too? That’s the question."

The Pirates have a game-and-a half lead in the Wild Card chase with 18 games to play.  They can thank their now vocal leader Andrew McCutchen.