Red-hot McCutchen vows no repeat of his '12 late slump
By Karen Price
Published: Monday, Aug. 19, 2013, 8:51 p.m.
So far this month, Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen is showing no signs of the August slump he fell into last year.
In fact, McCutchen's offensive numbers are better this month than they've been all year, with a .418 batting average, a .529 on-base percentage and 1.129 OPS with multiple hits in 10 of 16 games through Sunday.
He's second only to Washington's Jayson Werth (.500) in batting average in August, well ahead of his July average of .327 and, perhaps most importantly for the Pirates down the stretch, McCutchen feels like he still has room to improve.
“That's the way I feel, like I can continue to get better, continue to keep going,” McCutchen said Sunday before the Pirates' 4-2 to the Arizona Diamondbacks in 16 innings. “I honestly feel like I haven't reached my plateau as far as this year goes. I haven't really taken off like I normally would. I'm getting my hits here and there, hitting some balls to the right side, driving the ball to the gap, flying out on the warning track. I feel like those are going to turn to doubles, the doubles turn to home runs, and keep going.”
McCutchen started out batting .302 the first month of 2012 and built from there, peaking at .446 in July after going 41 for 92 with four doubles, one triple, seven home runs and 15 RBI. The pace was unsustainable though, and McCutchen averaged .252 in August and .260 in September. It was enough to keep him in contention for the National League batting title until the final weeks of the season, but he lost the crown to San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey.
McCutchen, a three-time All-Star, said he didn't change anything to keep his momentum going this year.
“I just didn't have an awesome first half,” he said. “I was doing so well (in 2012) that keeping up and maintaining that consistency was a little tougher than the norm. It's a little easier to go from the bottom and work your way up than be at the top and stay at the top. I really think that's been the key. I just had a slower start than normal this year and really started to settle in as the year went on.”
McCutchen said after a 19-for-84 stretch (.226) over the first 23 games, he decided in St. Louis in April that he had to go back to the basics. For him, that meant focusing on one thing at a time rather than, for instance, thinking about settling in his legs a little more, where he was placing his hands and numerous other things when stepping to the plate.
It also meant not worrying about the results.
“Just focusing on that one thing and knowing that when I get all (the one things) working together, I'm going to have the numbers I want to have,” McCutchen said. “But I had to accept that I wasn't where I needed to be.”
General manager Neal Huntington said they have seen good stretches from McCutchen and stretches where he slides back into the role of trying to carry the team. It's why they talked about trying to add a hitter at the trade deadline.
“At the same time, Andrew's been showing signs, (such as) driving the ball to right-center field, that are really encouraging,” Huntington said. “Being willing to take the walk and let Pedro (Alvarez) or (Russell Martin) or (Neil Walker), whoever's behind him, be the next one to carry the baton.”
Karen Price is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach her at email@example.com or via Twitter @KarenPrice_Trib.
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.
- Pirates general manager Huntington is searching for right player, deal
- Pirates notebook: Polanco ruled out as Opening Day option
- Pirates notebook: Huntington narrows team’s offseason targets
- Breaking down the Pirates’ needs entering winter meetings
- Pirates’ Snider talks about surgery, rebuilding swing
- Ex-Pirates great Parker’s long wait for Hall of Fame could finally end
- Ex-Pirate Jones close to signing with Marlins
- Pirates will shop while starting pitcher Burnett makes his decision