McCutchen having an off year, but the Bucs aren’t doomed

Andrew McCutchen - Photo Credit - Keith Allison

Andrew McCutchen – Photo Credit – Keith Allison

 

Andrew McCutchen has won an MVP award before. He will not win it this year. That is my captain obvious statement for the day.

When we think of the Pittsburgh Pirates — the CURRENT Pittsburgh Pirates — we think of Andrew McCutchen. He has been the cornerstone for the franchise since the first time he stepped onto the field wearing the Pirates uniform back in June of 2009.

His struggles have been well documented but make no mistake about him. McCutchen is still a superstar and in the prime of his career.

At least one would hope so. He is pushing 30 years old and 2016 has not been kind to him. Baseball fans can hopefully just call this a bad year and wish that he gets back on track next year.

I, personally, have been waiting for him to go on one of those hot stretches where he hits .450 for a month. It still has not happened.

His OPS this season is at a career low .719 and the second worst OPS that he has recorded in his career was .814, way back in just his sophomore season (2010).

He is only batting .241 this season, which is well below his career average of .297 coming into the season. He would have to go on a torrid stretch for the last two months of the season to reach that average for the season.

In fact, let’s dive more into that. The team has played 105 games so far, meaning they have 57 games left. We already know that he will not be playing tonight against the Atlanta Braves (manager Clint Hurdle gave him this series off) so that’s 56 games left for McCutchen.

Let’s assume he has exactly 4 At-Bats over the final 56 games. That equals 224 AB’s. Obviously he could have more than that because there are some games where players have 5 or more AB’s and it could be less depending on off-days and walks/sacrifice bunts/sacrifice flies but hypothetically that is the number.

He would need 88 hits in those AB’s to reach .296 for the season. That is a .392 average.

I am not totally sold that McCutchen could bat .392 over a two-month stretch.

He has been an All-Star from 2011-15′, a Silver Slugger award winner from 2012-15′ and an MVP in 2013 so maybe he does have something up his sleeve.

Although his numbers will probably not be he wants them by the end of the year, that does not mean that the season is completely lost.

The Pirates are still only 3 games out of a Wild-Card spot even though they are only a game over .500 (53-52) at the moment.

Now we all know they the Bucs are not very fond of the Wild-Card because it has haunted them every year since 2013 but the Chicago Cubs are making it impossible for anyone else to win the NL Central in 2016.

In baseball, your window is only so big and with the team trading guys like closer Mark Melancon and starting pitcher Francisco Liriano, it kind of sends mixed signals to their fan base but they are right there thanks to the rest of their offense — Starling Marte, Jung Ho Kang, David Freese, Gregory Polanco & Josh Harrison.

Yes, this is a season that McCutchen would love to forget but it isn’t all terrible because they are still in a pennant race. This franchise went 22 years without a playoff berth at one point so this is no time to take that for granted.

Khristian Peel

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