A once proud franchise, the Pittsburgh Pirates have five World Series crowns. Players such as Honus Wagner, Goose Gossage, Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell, Bill Mazeroski, Matty Alou, Bob Friend, Jason Bay, and Barry Bonds have all called Pittsburgh home over the years.

In recent memory, the wins have been hard to come by for the Pirates. Pittsburgh hasn’t posted a winning record since 1992—that’s 17 seasons! It was also Berry Bonds’ last season with the club.

What do all of these players have in common? Javy Lopez (ATL), Pedro Martinez, Mike Piazza, Matt Stairs, and Tim Wakefield. They all made their rookie debuts the 1992 season. Now that’s a drought.

After years of toiling in sub-mediocrity, things may be turning around for the Pirates.

(Enter, Andrew McCutchen.)

The Pirates’ 23-year-old center fielder has given Pittsburgh fans something to be optimistic about—sort of.

Defensively, he can run down just about everything and he has a good arm from center field. The ground that he can cover in the outfield reminds me of Torii Hunter during his days with the Twins.

Offensively, he can hit for average with a little bit of power. In 149 career games (108 in 2009, 41 in 2010), he’s hitting .296 with 17 home runs, 36 doubles, and 9 triples.

McCutchen won’t have to undertake this reclamation project on his own. The Pirates have a young, talented supporting cast of Ryan Church, Andy LaRoche, Garrett Jones, and Bobby Crosby.

It’s a long road back to prominence (or just getting above .500) for the Pittsburgh Pirates. They might not get there this season, or the next, or the next.

I believe that Andrew McCutchen, with some help, can change the direction of the Pirates…eventually.

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