Pittsburgh Pirates: Takeaways From Frustrating Series Split in St. Louis
By Marty Leap
Andrew McCutchen has still got it, and he still terrorizes the Cardinals
When the Pittsburgh Pirates signed Andrew McCutchen this offseason fans were excited. Cutch was back home. He was going to get to wear the Black and Gold again, and, barring injuries, get his 300th home run, 400th double, and 2,000th career hit while being a member of the Pirates.
However, there had to be some fans who were concerned that McCutchen may be over the hill a bit as a hitter. While he was still an above-average hitter in recet years, he was no longer the hitter he once was and appeared to be somewhat on the declien. Well, McCutchen has quickly squashed any of these fears.
A notorious slow starter for much of his career, McCutchen is off to one of the strongest starts to a season he's ever had in his career. It has not just been the results at the plate it's been how McCutchen has looked. His swing looks fast and violent the way it did in his prime, entering play on Sunday in the 66th percentile of baseball in hard-hit rate and the 77th percentile in average exit velocity.
McCutchen has also looked the best in the outfield he has in a few years. He has already made multiple above-average plays. McCutchen ranks in the 96th percentile of baseball in outfield jump, while ranking in the 84th percentile in both spring speed and outs above average.
In this series, McCutchen put it all on display. In Friday night's loss, he smoked multiple balls where he was victimized by tough luck and strong defense by the Cardinals. Sunday's loss saw similar outcomes for Cutch. Saturday, he went vintage Cutch when he took the game into his own hands and hit a game-winning 2-run home run in the 10th inning.
During his first nine MLB seasons Cutch seemed to come up with one big hit after another against the Cardinals, especially during the postseaon runs of 2013, 2014, and 2015. Cutch has proven he does not just still ahve it at the plate, but returning to Pittsburgh may have been a bit of a fountain of youth situation for McCutchen. Also, watching him once again terrorize the Cardinals while wearing a Pirate uniform certainly puts a smile on a lot of faces.