Andrew McCutchen Remarkable Return from Fractured Rib
By Tom Smith
23 Most Impressive Facts About 2014 Pirates is highlighted by reigning MVP Andrew McCutchen
Andrew McCutchen fractured his left 11th rib on August 3rd against the Arizona Diambondbacks. The 11th rib is the second one from the bottom–the specific injury was identified by the Pittsburgh Pirates as an avulsion fracture. That occurs when a piece of the bone chips away from the main bone.
We say again, August 3rd was the date the injury occured when the Bucs superstar was hurt hitting an eight-inning sacrifice fly against the Snakes. If you recall, Cutch struggled running to first base. The injury, which many felt would crush the Pirates chances for a repeat trip to the postseason, came one day after he was drilled in the spine by a heater from relief pitcher Randall Delgado.
Most feel and remember the purpose of the pitch was to pay vengeance for then Pirates reliever Ernesto Frieri fracturing the left hand of all-everything slugger Paul Goldschmidt.
Again, the 27 year old McCutchen’s rib was fractured on August 3rd. The image was not something any Pirates fan was happy to see.
Andrew McCutchen fractured his rib and is helped to the clubhouse by Pedro Alvarez.
When Cutch went out of the Bucs lineup he was actually ahead of the torrid pace he set in 2013 during his banner Most Valuable Player season. Cutch was hitting .311, but a .411 on-base, 17 bombs, and .536 slugging percentage were especially telling of the impact the NL MVP had on the Pirates offense as his 5.8 WAR and 68 walks were tops in the National League.
Most felt that the Face-of-the-Pirates would miss three to four weeks and it would be very unlikely that Cutch could possibly return anywhere close to the level of play when he was injured.
In the amount of time it took for McCutchen to take his lightning quick swing, the Pirates toss up chance of a postseason berth seemed gone.
Sep 25, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen (22) hits a two run single in the eighth inning of their game against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
However, the Pirates team responded by picking up their fallen leader. The player who stood center stage was Starling Marte. Since the All-Star break, Marte has thrived especially while playing center field for McCutchen who was eventually placed on the disabled list.
Everyone knows Cutch can fly, but he returned faster than perhaps anyone expected. It left me to wonder if there was any possible way this could turn out in a positive manner. It just seemed too early for McCutchen to have an immediate offensive impact.
Aug 3, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen (22) hits an RBI sacrifice fly in the eighth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
But what a return it was. In 155 plate appearances, McCutchen had six doubles, a trip, trip, triple, eight homers and hit .323 with a .406 on-base percentage to go with the gaudy .564 slugging and 174 wRC+. McCutchen put his team in the Wild Card game, just missing the National League Central Division title, battled for the batting title with Josh Harrison and Justin Morneau. while leading Major League Baseball in OBP, finishing third in OPS and was tied for sixth in WAR at 6.5.
Despite missing time due to an injury that one would think would crush a slugger, McCutchen has proved otherwise. The reigning MVP has put together another outstanding season as he trails only Mike Trout in wRC+, Miguel Cabrera in wOBA,
For the first and last time, we underestimated Andrew McCutchen.
Sep 25, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen (22) celebrates his catch in the dugout after the fifth inning of their game against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports