Tag: Andrew McCutchen

Andrew McCutchen Trade Rumors: Latest News and Speculation on Pirates OF

Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen reportedly will be on the trade block this offseason, according to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

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Growing Buzz That Pirates Will Trade McCutchen

Sunday, Oct. 2

“There is a growing sense among industry insiders that the team will try to deal McCutchen before he reaches free agency in either one or two years,” Biertempfel wrote. “General manager Neal Huntington likely will quietly shop the five-time All-Star during the offseason, if only to gauge the level of interest.”

Jim Duquette of MLB Network said, per Biertempfel: “There are people I’ve talked to who are convinced the Pirates are going to trade McCutchen this winter.”

McCutchen, 29, has struggled this season, hitting just .255 with 24 home runs, 77 RBI, 81 runs and six stolen bases in 13 attempts. His batting average and steals are career lows, and his run total is the lowest since his rookie season.

McCutchen has been one of the National League‘s best and most consistent players over the past five years and was a regular MVP candidate, winning the award in 2013, finishing third in 2012 and 2014, and finishing fifth last season.

“I think they could get two good prospects for McCutchen,” an American League scout told Biertempfel. “They could get a couple of players like [Felipe] Rivero—young, good prospects who are under team control for a while.”

McCutchen is under contract for next season, with a club option for $14.75 million in 2018. To retain him long-term, the Pirates may have to offer a massive contract.

If Pittsburgh shops him instead, it’s easy to imagine teams around baseball expressing interest. Whether that market is lucrative enough for the Pirates to give up their biggest superstar in years is another matter entirely.


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Andrew McCutchen Injury: Updates on Pirates Star’s Thumb and Return

Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen exited Thursday’s game against the Miami Marlins after experiencing “right thumb discomfort,” per the team

Continue for updates.

Rodriguez Replaces McCutchen

Thursday, June 2

McCutchen went 0-for-3 on Thursday before leaving the game. Tim Williams of Pirates Prospects confirmed Sean Rodriguez took McCutchen’s spot in the lineup.

In addition to the potential hazards that roaming the outfield and running toward the wall present, McCutchen has been a magnet for being hit by pitches when he steps into the batter’s box. Pitchers have to be aggressive in going after a tremendous hitter such as McCutchen.

Despite being plucked rather often—12 times in 2015—there’s no denying McCutchen’s toughness and durability, as he’s averaged approximately 155 games played over the prior six seasons.

Injuries haven’t really hampered the 29-year-old at any point in his career, so Pittsburgh fans ought not to worry too much about his long-term future.

McCutchen is nevertheless the face of the Pirates franchise and can’t be lost for any significant stretch of time if the club hopes to build on the recent success it has found. Perhaps the Pirates can rally around McCutchen’s absence and play inspired baseball in the short term.

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McCutchen Hits 3 Homers in a Game for 2nd Time in Career

Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen broke out of his slump in a big way Tuesday night, recording the second three-homer game of his career in a 9-4 win over the Colorado Rockies, per MLB Stat of the Day.

Taking advantage of the altitude at Coors Field, the 29-year-old superstar hit no-doubt solo home runs to left-center field in the first and second innings, getting the best of Rockies starting pitcher Christian Bergman both times.

Following a fourth-inning groundout, McCutchen made the most of his fourth at-bat against Bergman, sneaking a line-drive, three-run home run just barely over the right field fence to give the Pirates a commanding 7-3 lead.

McCutchen later had a chance to make it four homers, but he was retired by Rockies reliever Scott Oberg on a harmless groundout for the second out of the eighth inning.

Though it appeared Pittsburgh’s rally in the top of the ninth might give him another chance, McCutchen was still two batters away when pinch hitter Sean Rodriguez made the team’s final out.

It had been quite some time since McCutchen‘s other three-homer effort, which came back on Aug. 1, 2009, against the Washington Nationals during his rookie season.

He’s the fourth player to record multiple three-homer games as a member of the Pirates, and the other three—Willie Stargell, Ralph Kiner and Roberto Clemente—are all enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame, per Elias Sports Bureau (via ESPN Stats & Info).

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Andrew McCutchen’s 3-HR Explosion Emphatically Ends Early-Year Slump

Andrew McCutchen went into the Pittsburgh Pirates‘ latest contest as the worst hitter in their everyday lineup. Clearly, what he needed was a slump-buster.

Or three.

Yes, it’s true. Anyone who missed the Pirates take on the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on Tuesday missed McCutchen going deep in the first, second and sixth innings of a 9-4 win. Before talking about what this means, we must first honor these dingers by applying our eyes and ears:

McCutchen awoke Tuesday morning with only two home runs in 2016, putting him behind 45 other National League hitters. His three-homer game (the second of his career) has shrunk that list to seven players, a tidbit I’m contractually obligated to follow with: “So, he had a good day at the office.”

But more importantly, there’s what McCutchen‘s big outburst means for the Pirates.

The Pirates haven’t been lacking for offense in the early goings this season, as they went into Tuesday’s contest ranked fifth in the National League in runs and third in OPS. But they were doing all of that without McCutchen‘s typical MVP-level production. His .684 OPS was the lowest among Pittsburgh’s eight regulars.

Now, the 29-year-old’s OPS is up to .826. That puts him on his way to getting back to the level of his 2015 season (.889 OPS), and the next step could be getting back to his 2012-2014 levels (.939 OPS).

There aren’t many reasons to doubt McCutchen will build on his three-homer explosion. Beyond him being who he is, there’s the reality that it’s usually about this time of year he begins to heat up.

You’d have to ask the man himself if he has some sort of personal grudge against April, but McCutchen‘s numbers certainly suggest he’s not a fan. The .754 career OPS he has in the season’s first month is fine by normal standards, but not by his. That mark is over 100 points worse than his OPS in any other month.

Despite all of this, the only time McCutchen has had an early-season slump actually worth worrying about was last season. The .636 OPS he finished with last April was bad even for him, and it looked ominous in light of how he had been slowed by a left knee injury in spring training.

In a piece for Just a Bit Outside, Jeff Sullivan highlighted how McCutchen‘s left knee woes were barring him from his usual explosive weight transfer when he swung, thus sapping his power. And though he eventually started hitting again, it’s fair to wonder if he ever felt 100-percent healthy.

But as McCutchen recently told John Perrotto of USA Today, that’s all water under the bridge now.

“I couldnt prepare how I wanted to prepare. I had to compensate for certain things. That’s all that was,” he said. “But my body is in good shape, so I’m in good shape. Don’t have to worry about it now. As long as you feel good, you go out there and play good.”

For this to sound like more than McCutchen just saying what everyone wants to hear, he needed to do one thing: hit the ball hard.

It’s a simple request, but a look at his career isolated power (slugging percentage minus singles) and soft- and hard-hit rates shows it’s something he generally struggles with early in the season:

McCutchen had been doing even worse than usual in these departments out of the gate this season. He entered Tuesday with just a .133 ISO, a 25.9 Soft% and a 29.6 Hard%.

Well, hitting three home runs is a good way to make everything better. McCutchen‘s ISO has soared all the way to .237, and the exit velocities (per MLB.com) of his three dingers are sure to help his batted ball rates:

  • First HR: 111 mph
  • Second HR: 103 mph
  • Third HR: 104 mph

The Coors Field effect has to be taken into account, granted, but even that doesn’t diminish McCutchen‘s outburst too much. Maybe his third home run is only a double in other parks, but ESPN Stats and Information can show the other two were absolute bombs that probably would have been gone anywhere:

Now that McCutchen is apparently back to crushing the ball again, there’s really only one thing left on his to-do list.

With a rate of walk percentage of 12.7, McCutchen has been drawing about his usual amount of free passes. His strikeout rate of 22.3 percent, however, is several steps above his usual rate, which is no bueno. Until he mixes in some contact with his power and patience, he’s not quite himself yet.

Still, one thing at a time isn’t a bad way to play it. And if the Pirates had their druthers, they’d probably rather have McCutchen hitting the ball hard first and foremost anyway.

That was really the only missing link in their offense, after all. It began play on Tuesday ranked 28th in MLB in strikeout rate, second in walk rate and tied for seventh in stolen bases. If something happened that could boost their 24th-ranked ISO, their offense would be complete.

Right on cue, Andrew McCutchen happened. And since he’s probably not going away, pitchers had better study extra hard before facing the Pirates.


Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted/linked.

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Andrew McCutchen at Full Strength Paves Way for Monster Year in 2016

There’s just one way to explain Andrew McCutchen “only” finishing fifth in the National League MVP voting in 2015. The guy just had an off year. Sad, but true.

But from the looks of things, 2015 is about to be ancient history.

As the Pittsburgh Pirates prepare to set sail on their follow-up to a rollicking 98-win season, they must be positively beaming over what McCutchen is doing this spring. Their superstar center fielder may only be hitting .243 with a .317 on-base percentage, but he’s slugged five home runs to help push his spring OPS to .966. 

One of those dingers hasn’t landed yet. Specifically, this one:

OK, so, watching a former MVP go to town on some baseballs in spring training shouldn’t surprise us too much. This is a guy who hit .292 with an .889 OPS and 23 home runs last year, ultimately checking in as the National League’s fourth-best hitter. And over the last four years, only Joey Votto has been better.

Just because something’s not surprising, however, doesn’t mean it’s not a welcome sight.

Anyone with a decent memory or Internet search capabilities knows that power was hard for McCutchen to come by this time last year. He didn’t hit a single home run last spring, and that ended up being a preview of an early-season slump, as McCutchen hit just .188 with a .571 OPS and two home runs in his first 26 games of 2015.

Though most everyone was quick to blame the left knee issues that had dogged McCutchen during spring training, the man himself shot the notion down and accused everyone of “overanalyzing” his struggles. Nowadays, though, the 29-year-old is singing a different tune.

“Got my power back. Got my legs back,” McCutchen told Stephen J. Nesbitt of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in mid-March. “It’s about using them now.”

Hooking McCutchen up to a lie detector sadly isn’t an option in figuring out if he’s telling the truth. But we do know what he looks like with a pair of healthy legs, and that particular hitter looks a lot like…well, a lot like the hitter McCutchen is now.

If we flash back to 2015, it’s clear it was only partially an off year for McCutchen. He definitely struggled in the beginning, but in his final 131 games he hit .313 with a .953 OPS. Basically, he was his 2012 (.953 OPS) and 2014 (.952 OPS) self again.

The hot finish was legit. McCutchen boosted his on-base percentage by upping his walk rate from 9 percent early in the year to 15.3 percent down the stretch. And courtesy of Baseball Savant, his average exit velocity readings confirm that he was simply hitting the ball harder:

  • First 26 games: 88.02 mph
  • Final 131 games: 92.00 mph

As for what specifically changed for McCutchen, Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs noticed a couple of things.

In a piece at Just a Bit Outside, Sullivan noticed that early-season McCutchen seemed incapable of hitting the ball with authority to left field, and that, in a seemingly related story, his swing suddenly didn’t feature a noticeable weight transfer from his back foot to his front foot. That is, he was swinging like a right-handed hitter with a bad left knee would be swinging.

But then everything changed. After that slow start, McCutchen began crushing extra-base hits to left field (also center and right field) again. And as Sullivan noticed, the weight transfer from McCutchen’s back foot to front foot was pretty much back to normal.

After a finish like that, there admittedly wasn’t too much doubt that McCutchen would pick up where he left off. But it still serves as a nice bit of affirmation that his left knee woes appear to be firmly in the past.

Four of his five spring home runs have been to the left of center. And if we plug some of the images from the above video into a low-budget Photoshop production, we get a picture of a healthy weight transfer:

Assuming McCutchen’s legs are indeed fully healthy going into 2016, consistent power might not be the only thing we see out of him. After he attempted only 16 last year, we could also see more stolen bases. Better defense could also be in the cards.

And as McCutchen gears up for the 2016 season looking like his old self, it would seem he also has a new role to adjust to. And this, too, is an area that makes it easy to have high hopes.

As many have surely already heard, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle has experimented with McCutchen in the No. 2 spot in his batting order. Considering McCutchen is a No. 3 hitter by trade, this is unusual.

But although the Pirates may not be going by the book, they are going by The Book. Written by Tom Tango, Mitchel Lichtman and Andrew Dolphin, Sky Kalkman wrote at Beyond the Box Score that The Book highlights how “the [No. 2] hitter comes to bat in situations about as important as the [No. 3] hitter, but more often.” As such, it’s actually a better place for a team to put its best hitter.

The Pirates have more reason to believe this than most teams. Jayson Stark of ESPN.com reports that they sold McCutchen on the idea by showing him how frequently he came to bat with two outs and nobody on in 2015. And in general, he’s come to bat with the bases empty a lot in his career:

If the Pirates do indeed make McCutchen their new No. 2 hitter, he may start coming to the plate with runners on more often in 2016. That could be a very good thing. And not just because it would mean more RBI opportunities—because, really, who cares?

What’s more important is the fact that McCutchen has been a notably better hitter with the bases occupied throughout his career. With the bases empty, he’s a .293 hitter with an .857 OPS. With runners on, he’s a .305 hitter with a .927 OPS.

If McCutchen lives up to that performance while also coming up in those situations more often in 2016, that could be yet another force that puts his “off” 2015 season behind him. The end result could be a season as good or better than any of McCutchen’s best years.

That’s how we’d sum up our feelings in words, anyway. Here’s the GIF translation:

McCutchen back? McCutchen back.


Regular-season stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted/linked. Spring training stats courtesy of MLB.com.

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Cubs vs. Pirates NL Wild Card Game: Live Score and Instant Reaction

FINAL SCORE: Cubs 4-0 Pirates

The Cubs are moving on.

In a game that had pitcher’s duel written all over it, Jake Arietta answered the call and helped lead the Chicago Cubs to a 4-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates in the National League Wild Card Game on Wednesday night.

Arrieta was masterful, twirling a complete-game four-hitter while striking out 11 Buccos. He worked through the game unscathed until the Pirates rallied the bases loaded in the sixth inning. However, Starling Marte ripped into a double play to end the threat.

Arrieta got some early help from the top of Chicago’s lineup, courtesy of Kyle Schwarber and Dexter Fowler. After driving home Fowler with a single in the first inning, the lefty rookie slugger Schwarber blasted a 449-foot home run to right field that drove in Fowler again and put the Cubs ahead, 3-0, in the third.

Not to be outdone, Fowler added a solo shot in the fifth to put Chicago up, 4-0. It would prove more than enough for Arrieta, as the only drama he encountered after the sixth was a bench-clearing brawl in the seventh.

He was plunked in his at-bat and had some words with Tony Watson, which emptied both benches in the process. The lone ejection was Sean Rodriguez, who took out some frustration on the water cooler. Arrieta responded to the chaos by stealing second base and getting through the seventh inning with help from a nifty Kris Bryant double-play turn to end the threat. 

Pittsburgh’s Gerrit Cole finished the night having given up four runs on six hits and tallying four strikeouts in five innings. The two home runs proved to be the difference, with the Pirates unable to find an answer on offense.

For the second straight year, Pittsburgh was held scoreless on its home field in the Wild Card Game. In those two games combined, the Bucs had just eight hits, nine baserunners and struck out 21 times.

The Pirates end their season with 98 wins, the second most in the majors. That won’t make losing two years in a row feel any better, and winning the division becomes that much more important in 2016.

For Chicago, tonight marked 14 consecutive wins in games Arrieta has pitched. The victory also ended a nine-game postseason losing streak.

The Cubs will now travel to St. Louis to play the Cardinals, whom they’ve faced 19 times this year but never in the playoffs. Chicago went 8-11 against St. Louis this season.

First pitch is slated for Friday at 6:45 p.m. ET.

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MLB Playoff Predictions: 1 Player Who Will Determine Outcome for Each Team

Normally, one player stands out as the undisputed key to a team’s championship run.

Last year, Madison Bumgarner stepped up and helped lead the San Francisco Giants to a third World Series title in five years.

Before that, David Ortiz launched a monster shot off Joaquin Benoit to help the Boston Red Sox gain momentum, surge past the Detroit Tigers and eventually win a championship.

Can someone put together a similar performance in 2015 and live in postseason lore forever?

Let’s take a look at a critical player for each playoff team.

Begin Slideshow

5 Players Who Could Be the Madison Bumgarner of the 2015 MLB Postseason

Last October gave us one of the most impressive one-man performances in Major League Baseball postseason history. 

Madison Bumgarner made seven appearances for the San Francisco Giants in the 2014 postseason, and they needed every single inning he gave them as they marched to their third World Series title in five years.

Bumgarner had a 1.03 ERA in 52.2 innings, and his five shutout innings in relief in Game 7 of the World Series against the Kansas City Royals was one of the more memorable relief outings of any playoffs in the game’s long history.

Bumgarner is not in this year’s postseason, but that does not mean there are no candidates to put together the kind of month that would rival his. While pitchers are part of the pool, there are also position players in the mix who could carry their clubs the way Carlos Beltran did for the Houston Astros in 2004.

As this postseason gets underway Tuesday, we’ll look at some of the players poised to have that kind of impact. While all of them are entirely capable, the last one listed has the best chance to replicate Bumgarner’s success.

Begin Slideshow

Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen Shows Off Dance Moves in Dugout Prior to 1st Inning

Pittsburgh Pirates star center fielder Andrew McCutchen is popular for many reasons. Let’s boil them down to three.

1. He’s really good.
2. He’s a nice guy. (Ask these kids.)
3. He’s the life of the party.

That third peg was on display Tuesday night before Pittsburgh took the field against the Miami Marlins. With his teammates egging him on, ‘Cutch started grooving and could not be stopped.

The Pirates are 3.5 games back of the St. Louis Cardinals for first place in the NL Central, and they’ve won six of their last seven.

If McCutchen has his way, the team will be shimmying well into the fall.


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Justin Upton Leaps Way Up over the Fence to Rob Andrew McCutchen of Home Run

Andrew McCutchen may be a grounds crew hero, but Justin Upton doesn’t care.

The San Diego Padres outfielder leaped way up over the left field fence to rob McCutchen of a two-run dinger in the bottom of the fifth inning on Tuesday night.

Almost as impressive as the actual snag was Upton’s catlike reflexes to come up firing.

All you can really do on this play is tip your cap.


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