Analysis: So far Neal Huntington has not committed to selling this year as the Pirates GM. Believe it or not, I am okay with this. Let me tell you why. Andrew McCutchen.
I don’t care how close we are to the 2017 MLB trade deadline, after today’s announcement of the Chicago Cubs trading for Jose Quintana, the trade deadline talk will begin. Quintana is the consensus top-available starting pitcher expected to be on the trading block this year, so yeah….the Cubs are going for the win. But what will the Pirates do? I can guarantee you one thing, they won’t do that. And why am I okay with this? Why am I okay that a 42-47 Pirates team will look to compete in the second half of the year? Two words. Andrew McCutchen.
I will be the first person to admit that I was wrong. I did not think that Cutch would return back to his all-star form, but he has returned. Actually, since the beginning of June McCutchen has been more than an all-star. He has been a solid center fielder, the best hitter in the MLB, and absolute terror for opposing pitchers, and most importantly the team leader.
I am watching the Pirates again with the excitement of a eight year old spotting an unattended bucket of ice cream – just to see Cutch bat one more time. Let’s look at some of the stats.
Since June 1st, McCutchen has a .407 batting average and .500 on base percentage. These numbers are insane and are even better than his splits in August 2015, June 2014, and July 2012, all months in which McCutchen won the player of the the month award. A .500 OBP resulted in Cutch scoring 31 times in the last 35 games, which is exactly what the Pirates need as they look for consistent offense in the second half.
McCutchen is hitting .571 since June 1st in high-leverage situations. FanGraphs uses this unique statistic to measure if a player shows up when his team needs him the most. Cutch is doing that over half of the time, that gets me excited.
Also according to FanGraphs, out of Andrew’s 50 hits since June 1st, 24 have been “hard hits” (not “soft” or “medium”), 22 have been line-drives, and 9 have been home runs. Not only is Cutch hitting the ball, he is hitting the ball hard and far.
I for one will not be giving up hope on these Pirates yet. Andrew McCutchen is not the only Pirate that has been playing better recently and with Starling Marte coming back soon, anything is possible. The next 7 games for the Pirates are against the St. Louis Cardinals and the Milwaukee Brewers, all of which will be important games for the Bucs.
Comment below and let me know who you are looking forward to see play in the second half of the season and why. Let’s go Bucs!
*All Stats are through the all-star break
All statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference, FanGraphs, and my Excel Spreadsheet.