The Pittsburgh Pirates have squandered a lot of drafts over the last two decades. But they appeared to hit the jackpot in the 2005 MLB draft when they selected a sinewy high school outfielder from Fort Meade, Florida with the 11th pick. In a draft that featured names like Braun, Zimmerman, Bruce, Tulowitzki, Upton, and Ellsbury, it is hard to believe there would be room for one more superstar taken in the first round.
Andrew McCutchen is rapidly reaching the superstar level fans have been waiting for since Barry Bonds left in 1992. While the Pirates have had All-Star players such as Brian Giles, Jason Bay, and Aramis Ramirez, since then, none of them have come close to the excitement McCutchen brings to every game. He's the perfect balance of speed, power, coordination, athleticism and professionalism.
He's baseball's version of Sidney Crosby, if you will. Maybe not in terms of his ceiling potential, but definitely in regards to the level of excitement, creating countless hold-your-breath moments.
In 125 bats this season, McCutchen has a .344/.404/.488 with five home runs and seven stolen bases. After batting a solid .302 in April, 'Cutch has turned it up even further, hitting .436 in 12 games in May. His performance has been lost in the shuffle with the Pirates' starting rotation continuing to dominate while the rest of the lineup compiles a league worst .219 average.
This all coming after 6 year, $51.5 million contract in the offseason. The Pirates paid for MVP numbers and, so far, the 25 year old has been able to produce just that. In last night's win against the Washington Nationals, McCutchen went 2-4 with two monster home runs, the second coming after a spectacular acrobatic catch in the bottom half of the previous inning. While Matt Kemp is still the early, overwhelming favorite to take the NL MVP title, McCutchen is at least in the conversation.
Another big step in Andrew McCutchen's development is an increase in his power numbers. After posting 23 long balls, last season, McCutchen is currently on pace for about 25 home runs. But if he continues to hit like he has in May, we could see #22 reach the 30 home run milestone; something another former Pirate outfielder didn't do until he was 25 years old.