Where Does Andrew McCutchen Rank All-Time for the Pirates?

Now that the dust has somewhat settled from the Andrew McCutchen trade to the San Francisco Giants, I thought I would look at the stats he put up in his time in Pittsburgh and where they rank him all-time with the Pirates.

I’m mentioning these stats while knowing that the trade is still a fresh wound for some people and they will point to what he meant to the team and the city as a person. That angle has been covered many times and he’s not the first star for the Pirates who was traded away during his prime in an extremely unpopular trade for the fans.

The Jake Beckley trade in 1896 was doomed and disliked from the start and turned out horrible. Kiki Cuyler was handed to the Cubs in 1927 (long before the Aramis Ramirez trade) and the return was awful. Hall of Fame shortstop Arky Vaughan was sent to Brooklyn in an underwhelming return of four players, which only turned out fine when Vaughan retired early to help in the WWII effort. Ralph Kiner to the Cubs in 1953 for six marginal players and cash was extremely unpopular and did a huge number on attendance figures. His back injury limited what he did outside of Pittsburgh, but that trade had potential to be disastrous. Four future Hall of Famers in their prime. Fans hated the trades from the start and none of the returns worked out well.

The difference with all of those unpopular trades of stars in their prime was that there was no such thing as free agency. Fans didn’t like the returns, they were vocal about it and then they eventually got over it, unlike me, who still hates the Dots Miller trade made years before my grandfather was born.

At least with McCutchen, the Pirates were only losing one season, and who knows, maybe he comes back and adds to the stats you see below. He wouldn’t be the first star center fielder to do that. Lloyd Waner was traded away in 1941 (was past his prime by then) and then came back to finish his career in Pittsburgh in June of 1944, sticking around for the 1945 season as well.

Now that you know that other stars were traded away in their prime and fans survived, here are the statistical rankings for Andrew McCutchen with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

In games played, he ranks 14th with 1,346, sitting between Gus Suhr (13th) and Al Oliver. Those aren’t the elite players in team history, but both were stars in their day and stayed around in Pittsburgh that long for a reason.

McCutchen scored 814 runs, putting him in 12th place ahead of Bill Mazeroski. He’s one spot behind Patsy Donovan, who was helped by playing in a huge era for offense, but he was also an extremely talented outfielder. He also managed the Pirates for two seasons while he was still a player, so he has some historical significance in franchise history.

In my own greedy Pittsburgh history mind, this next category is the only reason I liked the McCutchen trade. He ranks 14th with 1,463 hits, putting him right between two pretty good names in Dave Parker and Dick Groat.

As for the history part, the Pittsburgh Pirates are the only team that has every one of their top ten leaders in hits in the Hall of Fame. Clemente, Wagner, P. Waner, Carey, Traynor, L. Waner, Stargell, Mazeroski, Vaughan, Clarke. If you need first names for any of those players, just stop reading now. With McCutchen trending down, he is on pace for a marginal shot at the Hall of Fame now, so I didn’t want him to ruin that fact/group. Even if he did make the Hall of Fame someday, it still ruins the 10-for-10 fact until that day. Sounds crazy I know, but it’s a great fact if you think about it.

McCutchen ranks tenth with 2,452 total bases, sitting behind nine Hall of Famers. He didn’t ruin a 10-for-10 here when he passed Dave Parker for tenth place late in the 2017 season.

When McCutchen makes his Lloyd Waner-like return at age 39, he will need just two doubles to match Mazeroski in eighth place. McCutchen’s last double (#292), which came during his last at-bat for the Pirates on October 1st, broke a tie with Vaughan for ninth place.

Home runs are where McCutchen really made his mark on the all-time list. He sits in fourth place, one of four players in team history to reach the 200 milestone. The three names ahead of him are Stargell, Kiner and Clemente. McCutchen finished with 203 homers.

With one more season, McCutchen could have moved up into seventh place in RBIs. He drove in 725 runs, enough for 11th place now behind Parker. Another 77 would have put him four spots higher.

McCutchen stole a lot of bases early in his time with the Pirates, then slowed down with 28 total in his last three years. He finished with 171, putting him in 16th place. Starling Marte passed him last year, making it the only category here where he wasn’t the active leader.

McCutchen walked 685 times, putting him behind six Hall of Famers at the top of that list.

As for the non-counting stats, the four main percentage stats are batting average, on base, slugging and OPS. McCutchen was much higher on the batting average list, and slightly higher on the other three, but his last three seasons slowly knocked him down. Out of all players with at least 1,500 plate appearances in each category, here are McCutchen’s rankings, along with the player directly in front of and behind him on each list.

BA: 33. Bob Elliot .292, 34. McCutchen .291, 35. Dick Groat .290

OBP: 14t. Fred Clarke .379, 14t. McCutchen .379, 16. Jason Thompson .376

Slugging: 11. Paul Waner .490, 12. McCutchen .487, 13. Craig Wilson .486

OPS: 11. Mike Smith .881, 12. McCutchen .866, 13. Honus Wagner .862

That’s a pretty good name to be in front of for OPS, though it should have some background. Wagner played in the deadball era, where offense was at an all-time low. He led the league eight times in OPS. On the flip side, Mike Smith played during the huge offensive era of the mid-1890’s. So while he was a very good (and interesting) player, that spot is based more on his era. Smith finished in the top ten in OPS three times in his career, never higher than third.

As for WAR rankings, I used Baseball-Reference for it. It’s a subjective stat, but for the most part it seems to do a solid job when used throughout history. McCutchen has a 40 WAR, which has him tenth for position players on the Pirates behind Ralph Kiner and ahead of Tommy Leach, who put in 228 more games than McCutchen in Pittsburgh. If you throw in pitchers, which is the only category here that you can, then McCutchen is 14th in team history for WAR.

McCutchen is clearly going down as one of the all-time greats in team history. He’s not in the Clemente/Wagner tier and due to time served in Pittsburgh, he also falls short of the Paul Waner/Willie Stargell group, but I think you can mention him in the next group of players without getting too much flack on any of them. Arky Vaughan is an extremely underrated all-time great, to the point some people argue about his Hall of Fame place. If you like the WAR stat, then his 64 WAR in 1,411 games in Pittsburgh is only behind Wagner for WAR per game played. I would put him ahead of McCutchen as well.

That top 6-10 range still puts McCutchen among and above many Hall of Famers who have donned a Pittsburgh jersey since the franchise started in the American Association in 1882.

  • In wRC+, he ranks 10th (using 1,500 PA limit John used). Number 1 is still – you guessed it – Brian Giles!

    Giles really is one of the most underrated players in baseball history.

    • About once a year I catch myself stumbling on Brian Giles’ FanGraphs page and every damn time it surprises me how insanely productive he was.

  • Begs the question will Cutch end up in HOF?

    • Better catch his second wind.

    • Oddly enough the trade to the west coast may help. He now gets regular exposure to many HOF voters in that time zone. If he has a couple good years could be the boost needed to get the call.

    • Not much of a chance… regular season stats aren’t impressive enough and his postseason stats are very pedestrian with 0 hr and 0 rbi in 8 postseason games

  • Ya know, I read the headline, and without thinking about it too much, thought to myself, “I dunno, about 10th maybe?”

    We were absolutely privileged to cheer for this man. That game with the Cardinals in ’15, the back-and-forth when he won it with the home run in the 13th, was one of the greatest baseball games I’ve ever seen.

  • Great article! Since we’re in Hall of Fame voting season, the other day I thought about how many Pirates I’ve seen who are Hall of Famers. I’m 50 years old, so it’s only Stargell for me. Technically Clemente, by I was too young to remember seeing him play (although my first book report in elementary school was about Clemente). When people complain that too many players are getting into the HOF, I guess that’s not the case for Pirates fans. Thinking about where Cutch ranks, I definitely have a recency bias and because there has been such a lack of great Pirates the last few decades. Also biased because of the association of Cutch with returning the team to be a winning team, and because he seems to be such a good guy off the field.

    • Bonds is a HOFer! Just because he’s being blackballed by the voters as the face of the steroid era, doesn’t mean he wasn’t better than any of the players voted in yesterday.

      He should’ve won 3 straight MVP’s as a Pirate. Just a shame he’s a turd as a human being, otherwise he’d probably have been elected by now.

      • Wow! Woke Scott K. 😉

        • Yeah, I just love it when writers try to tell us who FOR SURE was and wasn’t using PED’s during their careers. I can guarantee you there are several enshrined players who were juicing.

          I suppose Bonds and Clemens must have been using those magic steroids, and not the run of the mill over the counter steroids than Piazza, Bagwell, et al, were using to achieve their HOF careers.

          What a joke the HOF has become.

          • I’d honestly rather discuss the 25th man to be rostered on a 100-loss ballclub at this point.

    • Don’t forget Kenny Lofton… probably HOF material too and I’m *sure* his year as a Pirate will put him over the top. 😀

  • I go back to the 70’s, and of the Pirates I’ve seen play, I’d put him behind Stargell and Bonds. Pretty close between Cutch and Parker.

    Regardless, he was a joy to watch.

  • WillyMoGarcia33
    January 24, 2018 2:50 pm

    This article piqued a thought I had the other day. Maybe I just missed the backlash, but considering the outpouring disdain for the Pirates trading the “face of the franchise”, there wasn’t anything close to that with regards to Evan Longoria (ironically traded to Giants as well). It’s basically the same scenario. Aging player, albeit one consistently producing between 3-4 WAR. Team friendly deal, obviously more years. Face of franchise. Except, not only was Longoria the current face of the franchise, he is THE face of the franchise. Maybe it’s cause they got Arroyo? Maybe cause it’s more widely accepted the Rays sell off everyone? Pirates traded arguably a top 15 all-time Pirate. The Rays traded the #1 all-time Ray.

  • You can always count on John Dreker for a Dots Miller mention.

    We all have that one thing we can’t let go of, John.

  • In my humble opinion, Cutch deserves a statue someday.

  • Bonds Pirate WAR: 35.0 Cutch: 40.0

  • I had not realized that Neal Huntington was the Pirates’ General Manager as far back as 1896 ; )

  • As the fastballs got faster Cutch went from star to good regular.

    BTW – the Giants signed Austin Jackson who slashed the same as Cutch last year to play CF for 2/$7M ie. average outfielders have no value anymore.

    • Cutch isn’t done as a great player I don’t think. He may have 1-2 more top seasons in him. He will be highly motivated and protected in the lineup and have a shorter LF also. Plus his days of CF being a monstrous drain on his WAR are almost done. Cutch is .275/.367/.451/.818 so he has been just solid at AT & T. Hopefully he surpasses that OPS in 2018.

      • The problem hasn’t been McCutchen’s overall numbers, but the fact that he compiles the majority of the positives in 2 1/2 months of the season. You can’t be a .200 hitter in April and May.

      • I absolutely agree. I think his numbers are going to be much better in San Francisco.

    • Truth. And the high fastballs made it even more difficult for Andrew to adjust to the sliders away.

    • WOW..Spotrac had Jackson estimated at 3 years $40MM….Apparently there were wrong lol

    • You have always seemed to have something against Cutch. Yet, you LOVED Clint Barmes.

      • I loved Barmes because he had the quickest glove to hand I’ve ever seen. Plus he was the consummate humble team. Walker said he was the best teammate he’s EVER played with.

        I loved Cutch’s charity work off the field, I loved how good Cutch was at his peak. I didn’t like how much of a diva he was on field/dugout with his showmanship/pouting depending on the situation.

  • Great piece… and just for me. (Previous article inside joke). No matter what the era, forty years ago or 40 years from now, it will always Clemente and everybody else.

    • Clemente was great but I would have to go with Honus Wagner. All those elite years at SS and monster numbers in deadball era. 14 straight 5.8 or higher WAR seasons for Wagner. It’s hard to fathom but Wagner compiled 52 more career offensive WAR than Clemente. Clemente’s passing early probably cost him 10+ WAR possibly but that still puts him far behind. It’s cool that Clemente and Wagner were still so good at an older age. Two of the best players after 30 ever. They were both better after 30.

      • Wagner could absolutely do everything and play every position. Many people don’t know that he had a cannon for an arm. Once held the baseball official record for longest throw at over 400 feet.

        • I have read in a few places that he probably was one of the first players ever to lift weights. 5’11” 200 or so pound rock. Built a lot like Sidney Crosby with the freakishly strong lower half.

        • When he retired he did commercials for American Heating.
          Who can, American can. I saw him as a boy when he was working a new house with American heat. Got his autograph, but lost it.

      • I think the legend of Clemente exceeds that of Wagner, but I also have no doubt Wagner was, at least relative to his peers, the better baseball player.

      • I saw Clemente play a lot, and while McCutchen is a different kind of player, they both carry themselves the same way: there was a pride about Clemente, that on any day he could do whatever he wanted to. McCutchen is the same way. He comes to the plate and anything can happen. In the middle of a slump, hitting close to the Mendoza line? Three home runs in one game. Peak Cutch was as good as anyone you will see.

        • michael schalke
          January 25, 2018 9:25 am

          McCutchen is not in the same league as Clemente. Roberto at 38 was a much better fielder and hitter than Cutch at 30. Peak Cutch was great for 3-4 years while the great one had at least 10.

          • Tom Brenholts
            January 25, 2018 9:43 am

            I agree. I’m not saying that they were equally talented, but that they carried themselves the same way, and both were exciting to watch, in a way that, say, Brian Giles or Jason Bay weren’t. On any day, either Cutch or Clemente could explode with a “Wha, did you just see that!!?” play, or game. I’d put Clemente 2nd, behind Wagner (who of course I never saw), and McCutchen 10th.

            • I think you didn’t mean to throw Giles in there… He has one of the best homerun saving catches at PNC Park… That ridiculous grab up against left field fence against Cleveland

    • Bingo cabbo.I watched The Players Tribune video yesterday and felt bad about McCutchen leaving, but nothing like I did when Clemente was gone.

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