These Pittsburgh Pirates could hit 25+ Home runs in 2015

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Mar 28, 2015; Bradenton, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen (22) warms up before the start of the spring training game against the Toronto Blue Jays at McKechnie Field. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Andrew McCutchen has long since served as the prominent offensive threat in the Pirates’ lineup.  Cutch has averaged just under 21 home runs per year in his six total years in the majors, including a career-high 31 in 2012.  McCutchen followed that campaign by hitting 21 in his MVP season in 2013, and 25 in 2014.

It’s very clear that as the major league ballclub has improved over the past few years, teams pitched McCutchen differently.  His walk rate has improved year-over-year, from 10.4% in 2012 to 15.3% in 2014.  Last season’s walk rate for Cutch is especially telling.  Taking 84 free passes on the year left him with the second-highest total of his career, and this despite having 45 fewer at-bats than in 2013.  McCutchen has developed into a disciplined hitter, yet Pirates fans should be thankful that his disciplines does not approach Joey Votto-like levels, thus depriving the Pirates of runs.  The bottom line for McCutchen’s HR total is this:  as the batters around him mature, so will his home run numbers.  Projection;  27 HR.

Of course, that number could be much higher if the hitter(s) behind him contribute to the levels that they care capable of.

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