Andrew McCutchen was the face of the Pittsburgh Pirates organization for the first seven years of his career. Then one bad year spoiled his Hall of Fame worthy career. Now, he finds himself on the Pirates’ trading block before the 2017 season. Most people would crack under pressure and continue to play poorly. But Andrew McCutchen isn’t like most people. He was drafted as the Pirates number 1 pick in 2005 straight out of high school. From a poor family in Fort Meade, FL, “Cutch” has been under intense scrutiny and pressure to lift the Pirates back to playoff contenders and be championship caliber team. For his first few years, he tore up the league. Pitchers found him to be a menace, but the Pirates could not back the one-man-show that he was. Then, in 2013, something special happened.
For most young Pirates fans for myself, October 1, 2013 is a very special date. For old schoolers, this day was a slight glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel. The Pirates were in the National League Wild Card Game. This was the first playoff appearance for them since 1992. I wasn’t even born when they made the playoffs in 1992. PNC Park didn’t exist. They played in Three Rivers Stadium. The Pirates in 1992 didn’t lose the season series to any team. Bob Walk was still the dominant pitcher for them. Barry Bonds was starting his young illustrious career. But then for 21 dark gloomy years, the Pirates were one of the worst teams in the MLB. October 1, 2013 was the day that changed. In PNC Park, in front of a crowd of 40,487 Pirates fans, Andrew McCutchen captained the Pirates to a postseason appearance against the Cincinnati Reds, a division rival.
The Pirates won the do-or-die wild card game, but lost in the National League Divisional Series versus the St. Louis Cardinals.
The next two years, the Pirates made the wild card game but lost tragically. Then 2016 decided to come around. Cutch was in his prime, but then he skid to a stop in production. Without Andrew McCutchen, the Pirates were struggling to put together wins. As the 2016 season progressed on, he got worse and worse. He went from being the league MVP in 2013 to being thought of as a replaceable worthless veteran.
This season, Andrew has been on a tear. He has not held back against pitchers and has been playing his heart out defensively. He’s made an argument to stay on the Pirates and is helping the Pirates in their goal to reach the postseason once again. Let’s take a look at his stats and rises and falls over the years.
As we can see, Cutch has been up and down in his batting average, specifically in 2011. Visualizing the data, we see Cutch is having a minor resurgence in his batting.
His offensive increase hasn’t been only the thing that has come back. Defensively, he has sagged due to age and knee injury. However, he has been playing much better. Here are some graphs showing this.
All in all, Andrew McCutchen has had a very stressful two years. He went from MVP caliber to “trash” and is making a resurgence. After the All-Star break, will he continue to play better or will he cool off? We’ll have to wait and see.