Recent

0

Andrew McCutchen: A Real Star

Take a look at the current FanGraphs leaderboards and you’ll see these three players sitting in the top three spots when sorted by WAR (Wins Above Replacement):

1. Jose Bautista – Currently sitting with 26 homers, a .328 average, and a 1.150 OPS

2. Jose Reyes – Hitting for a .354 average and a .927 OPS, along with great defense (a 1.7 UZR)

3. Andrew McCutchen

McCutchen ranks third in WAR this year.

That’s right.  Andrew McCutchen currently ranks as the third best qualified position player in baseball, a group consisting of 158 players.  And yet McCutchen wasn’t named to the NL All-Star team.  Now I’m not going to talk about how McCutchen was an All-Star snub.  That’s mostly because I don’t care about the All-Star game.  It used to be a fun event.  Now it represents everything that is wrong with the way baseball is run.  The All-Star game and the events surrounding it used to be a nice 2-3 day event.  Then they had a tie game, and to save face, all future games would decide home field advantage in the World Series.  That pretty much sums up baseball under Bud Selig.  A problem comes up.  A solution is presented that doesn’t fix the problem at all, and only leaves baseball worse off.  But I digress.

Aside from the ridiculous rule that the All-Star game plays an important role in the World Series, the All-Star selections themselves are a sham.  The starters are decided based on a popularity contest.  Even the benches are selected based on popularity.  For example, Carlos Beltran was selected as a bench player.  He has an average than is 8 points lower than McCutchen, an OPS that is 19 points lower than McCutchen, and his defensive numbers haven’t been as good.  Beltran is good, but McCutchen has been better.  However, Beltran is a star name in a big market, while McCutchen is considered a rising star in a small market.  It’s kind of like what happened with Jason Bay.  Bay was a tremendous player when he was in Pittsburgh.  When he went to Boston, he didn’t do anything that we didn’t see in Pittsburgh.  Yet he got more attention as a star in Boston.

The All-Star snub brings up a great opportunity to talk about how Andrew McCutchen is a star player.  That’s not a “rising star”.  It’s not saying he could be a star.  He is a star.  Maybe you don’t buy in to the WAR stat, but let’s consider…

…McCutchen is one of 50 players in the majors with 12 or more homers.

…Of those players he is one of 22 with an OPS over .850.

…Out of the players with 12+ homers and an OPS over .850, McCutchen is one of five with double digit steals.

…Out of those five players, McCutchen is number one in defense, according to UZR, and it’s not even close.  His 6.9 UZR is followed on that list by Justin Upton’s 2.5.

Now this isn’t the most scientific way to determine whether a player is a star.  It’s meant to highlight certain traits.  It points out that McCutchen hits for power, including home runs.  It points out that he has a strong OPS (which indicates a strong ability to hit for power and get on base).  It points out that he’s a weapon on the base paths.  Finally, it points out that he’s great defensively.  McCutchen may not lead the league in any one category.  However, he’s on pace for about 25 homers, he has an .883 OPS, he’s a threat to steal 30 bases, and his defense this year has been spectacular.  As an overall player, McCutchen is a star.

Wondering who the other players were on that list of five?  They were Matt Kemp, Ryan Braun, Curtis Granderson, and Justin Upton.  Kemp, Braun, and Granderson were voted in as starters to the All-Star game.  Upton was selected as a bench player for the National League.

You look at the Pirates this year, and they’re a young team that’s starting to come together, with a lot of guys making the jump recently from AAA.  The pitching staff is mostly young, and having a lot of success this year.  The offense has been inconsistent, especially with young players like Jose Tabata and Neil Walker.  With a team like this, McCutchen is the perfect guy to have.  He’s the guy you want to build around.  He’s young, he’s under control for multiple years, he hits for average, he gets on base at a strong rate, he hits for power, including homers, he steals bases, and he plays strong defense.  Outside of a wild throwing arm from the outfield, there aren’t really any major weaknesses in his game.

I don’t need an All-Star selection to tell me that McCutchen is good.  All I have to do is look at the results, and the results say that he’s good across the board, with power, speed, defense, and a strong hitting ability.  All four of those traits together are rare.  So when one player has them all, it’s hard to say that he’s not a star.

Enjoy this story? Pirates Prospects will be switching to a subscription site on 4/13, so that we can continue bringing you the best Pirates coverage there is. For a very small monthly price, you can continue getting articles like this, along with coverage from every minor league city. Get more information here, and subscribe today!

Share This Article

Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

Stolen Bases Hurt Power; Alvarez Continues Rehab

Next Story »

Indians Wrap Up Road Trip With A Loss In Toledo

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Steve-Zielinski/100000181161454 Steve Zielinski

    The All Star Game is now silly. But McCutchen earned the recognition he didn’t get from Botchy and the players.

Latest Analysis

  • Josh Bell made the move to first base over the off-season. (Photo credit: David Hague)

    Why Should You Care About Prospects?

    10 hours ago

    Yesterday I had a shorter day than usual. The Pirates had cuts at the MLB level, and a road game. The day was shortened at Pirate City, ...

    Read More
  • Gregory Polanco

    Q&A: Trading Prospects For Rentals, Polanco Concerns, Meadows vs Appel

    1 day ago

    I missed the Q&A last week due to a common problem in Spring Training: I forgot what day it was. It was around 6:00 that I was ...

    Read More
  • Nick Kingham f

    Improving His Two-Seam Fastball will Make Nick Kingham a More Effective Pitcher

    2 days ago

    With Jameson Taillon returning from Tommy John surgery, and unlikely to make an impact at the Major League level early in the year, the top prospect to ...

    Read More
  • Arquimedes Caminero 3

    The Roster Situations That Could Impact the Makeup of the Pirates Bullpen

    4 days ago

    There are less than two weeks remaining in Spring Training, and the one area where the Pittsburgh Pirates had actual position battles is heating up. There were ...

    Read More
  • Jordan Luplow

    How the Pirates are Trying to Stay Ahead of the Curve With the New Draft Rules

    5 days ago

    The 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement brought a lot of changes to Major League Baseball. The biggest change for the Pittsburgh Pirates came in the draft. From 2008-2011, ...

    Read More
  • Alen Hanson

    The Key For Alen Hanson to Help the Pirates in the Majors This Year

    6 days ago

    When the Pittsburgh Pirates moved Alen Hanson to second base last year, part of the plan was to get him to the majors faster by putting him at ...

    Read More
  • Tyler Glasnow 2

    What the Stats Don’t Tell You About Tyler Glasnow

    1 week ago

    The stat line for Tyler Glasnow’s start at Pirate City yesterday looked great: 3 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K. The lone run ...

    Read More
  • JaCoby Jones Josh Bell

    JaCoby Jones Did Fine in the Move to Shortstop, But Needs to Cut Down on Strikeouts

    1 week ago

    The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted JaCoby Jones as an outfielder in the third round of the 2013 draft, then surprised everyone the following year when they moved him ...

    Read More
  • Cody Dickson is a lefty with the upside of a middle of the rotation starter. (Photo Credit: Mark Olson)

    The Mental Adjustment that Led to Cody Dickson’s Dominant 2014 Second Half

    1 week ago

    Trusting his stuff and not trying to do too much — that has been the key for left-handed pitcher Cody Dickson so far in his professional baseball ...

    Read More
  • Third Base Mathisen Luplow Joe

    Who’s on Third? In the Pirates’ Farm System, It Could Be Anyone

    2 weeks ago

    If you have ever played third base in your life — professional, college, high school, slow pitch softball — then the Pittsburgh Pirates might be contacting you ...

    Read More
  • Browse More Articles

    More