Kovacevic: Cutch for MVP ... and much more
TribLIVE Sports Videos
A powerful case can be made through advanced analysis that Andrew McCutchen is pulling away from the pack to be National League MVP. Add up an array of offensive and defensive stats into the catch-all metric Wins Above Replacement, and the race looks like this:
1. Carlos Gomez, Brewers, 6.1 WAR
2. McCutchen, 5.9
3. David Wright, Mets, 5.6
4. Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks, 5.2
5. Joey Votto, Reds, 5.1
In other words, it's no race at all at the moment.
Forget Gomez. He plays for a Milwaukee team that was rancid even before Ryan Braun's steroids suspension. Besides, most of Gomez's value would be hidden from voters more schooled in, say, RBI than WAR.
Wright's Mets are in the same category, and the fair-or-not truth about all MVP candidates on lousy teams is that they'd better be head-and-shoulders above those on winning teams. Even with Goldschmidt and Votto both on contenders, neither has risen above individually. Votto has the best shot at surging into a serious MVP duel, but it hasn't happened yet.
Don't overthink this: The MVP is in Cutch's clutches unless he drops it.
Not that he's inclined to discuss the matter.
“I did that last year, and it didn't turn out so well,” McCutchen said Wednesday at PNC Park before his 16th home run helped the Pirates past the Marlins, 4-2. And he had a fair point: Both he and the team plunged in the second half. “The way I look at it, all of that stuff will take care of itself at the end of the season. I'm just going to keep going.”
OK, since he won't say it, I will: It would be remarkable if it plays out per the script.
Half the reason for that, I'd say, is the place McCutchen would take in the 127-year-old Pittsburgh Baseball Club's pantheon. Only five Pirates have been MVP: Dick Groat (1960), Roberto Clemente (1966), Dave Parker (1978), Willie Stargell (1979, tied with the Cardinals' Keith Hernandez) and Skinny Barry Bonds (1990, '92). It should be noted the current form of the award — voted upon by the Baseball Writers Association of America — wasn't born until 1931 and that Paul Waner won an MVP “citation” in 1927. It also should be noted Honus Wagner, the greatest player in franchise history, would have piled up so many MVPs in the early 1900s the honor probably would be named for the Dutchman today.
But it's the other half of the reason that gets me because a McCutchen MVP would be unlike anything the above esteemed gentlemen achieved.
He changed the franchise.
There's a lot of credit being tossed around, all deserved. Without Clint Hurdle's steady hand or A.J. Burnett's fire or Francisco Liriano's filth or Russell Martin's smarts or Starling Marte's energy, this summer's team might not look different than past summers.
But McCutchen's been here all along. He was drafted in 2005 under Dave Littlefield when that alone used to be the kiss of death. A couple of years later upon being cut in spring training, he was livid when looking around a Bradenton clubhouse littered with lesser talent and told me, “I should be here.” In 2010, he was one of the few to hold his head high through a 105-loss disaster, and I recall what he said one September night in Miami: “You just have to keep playing, keep getting better. The rest's out of your control.”
That's Cutch. Rise above.
And now that the rest is finally under control, it's clear he never stopped getting better.
People wanted home runs?
He put out 31 last year, is on pace for 25 this year.
How's 24 for 29 after another easy one Wednesday?
One Gold Glove should soon be followed by another.
“The thing about Andrew,” Hurdle was saying Wednesday, “is that he's never satisfied.”
Oh, and people wanted a winner? Yeah, you've got that, too, and through a jagged path no other individual associated with the Pirates has walked.
Waner's MVP came two years after the Pirates won the 1925 World Series. Groat's came the same year as the next crown. Clemente's came six years later. Parker and Stargell were part of a decade-long power. Bonds was part of a three-time division champ.
No disrespect, but none of them really changed anything.
McCutchen is not only burnishing his own legacy but also healing the battered brand of an entire institution.
Be sure he grasps that, too.
“It takes more than just me to turn a team around. I'm just trying to do my part,” McCutchen said. “But yeah, being in this organization for so long, drafted by the Pirates, you can definitely appreciate what's happening now a little more than others can.”
The voters can show their appreciation this fall.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Woman shot at Kennywood Park in ‘freak accident’
- Man, child hit by car late Saturday in South Side
- McCutchen, Pirates hitters increasingly in crosshairs
- Missing man found in Garfield
- Police: Maine man shoots off firework from top of head, dies
- Don’t remove history’s lessons
- Pirates minor league report: Ramirez more mindful while at plate
- Starting 9: Pirates missing out on young bat
- Grandmother of boy dropped at Uniontown Hospital says he’s in ICU
- Pittsburgh’s tech startup activity rates last of 40 metro areas in report
- Starkey: Bring back the Brawl!