Can Pittsburgh Pirates OF Andrew McCutchen win the MVP?


This is no secret to those who follow the Pittsburgh Pirates, but Andrew McCutchen is a pretty good ball player. Since making his Major League Debut with the Pirates in 2009, McCutchen has been the face of a franchise that endured 20 consecutive losing seasons before reaching the postseason in both 2013 and 2014. Not only has the man known to many as “Cutch” been a consistent force in the Pirates lineup for five plus years, but he has also established himself as one of the best players in all of Major League Baseball and a legitimate National League Most Valuable Player candidate year in and year out. Let’s take a look at his current numbers.

2015 ★131568474791433332085775105.302.403.511.914

This season has been no different for the 28-year old center fielder. He has been a huge reason as to why the Pirates are currently battling for a National League Central Division title and has put up numbers that stack up against some of the best players in baseball. When it comes to the Most Valuable Player award in the National League, Cutch is bound to be one of the top candidates for the prestigious award. In fact, compared to some of the other top potential candidates, the 2013 NL MVP might stand out just a little bit more. Let’s compare McCutchen to some of the other potential candidates and see where he stands.

Paul Goldschmidt

2015 ★13459548685156302279721100126.321.434.558.992

First on the list of possible competition is a player who seems to sometimes slip under the radar being that he is not in a huge market. Arizona Diamondbacks First Baseman Paul Goldschmidt has built the reputation of being one of the most consistent players in all of baseball. Like McCutchen with the Pirates, Goldschmidt has become the face of a struggling franchise looking for any bit of positivity. However, unlike the Pirates, the Diamondbacks are still in the midst of struggles,  with their last postseason appearance coming back in 2011. Goldschmidt has in fact been a positive amongst a list of problems the Diamondbacks have endured throughout the past few years. Since making his debut back in 2011, Goldschmidt has been one of the best power hitters in Major League Baseball. The three-time All-Star is also no stranger to MVP talk, finishing second in the voting to McCutchen in 2013. Goldschmidt is having another impressive season in 2015, hitting .321 with 27 home runs and 97 RBI with a .434 OBP, .992 OPS, and ranking in the top ten in the National League in each category. Though the 27-year old first baseman plays for a team that is likely to miss out on the postseason for a fourth consecutive year, Goldschmidt’s MVP stock still remains high. I believe that postseason berths do help the case for MVP candidates, but if there was any exception to that belief, it could be Paul Goldschmidt.

Bryce Harper

2015 ★12955143710114833134836107109.339.470.6521.122

It would be a huge understatement to say that Bryce Harper is one of the most popular players to hate on in Major League Baseball. After being selected with the first overall pick in the 2010 draft, Harper lived up to the expectations to an extent. He battled injuries the last few years, but in 2015, he has shown why there were so many expectations immediately following the draft. The 2012 Rookie of the Year has proven this season that a healthy Bryce Harper is a very dangerous threat to the rest of Major League Baseball. This season, Harper is hitting .339 with 34 home runs and 83 RBI with a league leading .470 OBP and 1.122 OPS. Harper is without a doubt a legitimate contender for the NL MVP award. Harper and McCutchen have a lot in common. They are both young stars in the game and are valuable members to their respective organizations. Each have made adjustments at the plate while undergoing struggles and have bounced back to lead their teams to great things. Harper leads the National League in batting average, runs scored, OBP, SLG, OPS and WAR, so his MVP stock is high. Even through the Nationals second half struggles, Harper has remained healthy and has continued to hit at a high level. Despite the Nationals being on the bubble when it comes to the postseason, Harper could be the biggest road block in the way of McCutchen bringing home his second MVP award.

Nolan  Arenado

2015 ★132555517821483443610512785.286.323.576.899

If you were to look at the statistics above without seeing who they belonged to, you may not think that they were the numbers compiled by Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado. Arenado wraps up my top three position players who may stand in the way of McCutchen winning the NL MVP. Following the trade deadline deal that sent Troy Tulowitzki to Toronto, Arenado has basically become the face of the Rockies franchise. All four of these candidates are the faces of their respective organizations, however, Arenado provides the Rockies with an abundance of weapons. In his third season, Arenado is already a two-time gold glove winner and is having a career year, hitting .286 with 36 home runs and 105 RBI with a .576 SLG and .899 OPS. Like Goldschmidt and Harper, Arenado is on a ballclub that could miss out on the postseason. However, he is a valuable part of the Rockies club. Do not be surprised if the young 24 year-old gains a whole lot of consideration when it comes time to MVP voting.

More from Rum Bunter

At this point in the season, Andrew McCutchen has actually posted better numbers than he did during his MVP year in 2013. In that year, McCutchen hit .317 with 21 home runs and 84 RBI with a .404 OBP and .911 OPS. Though his 2012 season was by far his best of his major league career, Cutch is bound to have a better season than he did two years ago. This season, McCutchen is hitting .302 with 20 home runs and 85 RBI with a .403 OBP and a .914 OPS with less than a month left in the regular season. Another advantage that McCutchen has over the other three position player candidates is that he is the only of the four that is expected to play in October. Though this may not make a huge difference when it comes to voting, it might be something that each member of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America should take into consideration.

I do like McCutchen’s chances in this race. Mainly because he is a guy who the Pirates need

In my opinion, these four players have to be the favorites when it comes to consideration for the NL MVP award. That is unless another pitcher wants to swoop in and crash the party. Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke is capable of doing just that. Following a season in which his teammate Clayton Kershaw won the NL MVP and NL Cy Young award, Greinke has put up numbers that should garner some consideration. This season, Greinke is 15-3 with a 1.59 ERA, a 0.85 WHIP and 169 strikeouts in 186.2 innings. He is also extremely valuable to his team’s success each time he steps foot on the mound, sitting in second place in the NL in WAR. His win-loss record and ERA compare to Kershaw’s 21-3 record and 1.77 ERA last season, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Greinke included in the MVP conversation.

When I think of the term “Most Valuable Player,” I think of a guy who is vital to their team’s success. Not the guy with the best statistics, but a guy who a team could not succeed without. Andrew McCutchen, Bryce Harper, Nolan Arenado, and Paul Goldschmidt are four of the biggest stars in Major League Baseball and they are all vital to the success of their respective ball clubs. However, I do like McCutchen’s chances in this race. Mainly because he is a guy who the Pirates need. Though the Pittsburgh Pirates have a lot of weapons within their lineup, they are not battling for a division title without Cutch out in center field on a daily basis. McCutchen has been through the MVP race before, but this year’s quest for the NL MVP is not going to be an easy one. The competition is heavy, but his chances do remain strong. McCutchen has been in the conversation for the award in each of the last three years, finishing in the top three on each occasion. Not only should you watch for this to happen again, but don’t be surprised if he once again takes home the prestigious honor for the second time in three years.

Next: Wake Up Call: (another) biggest series of the year