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McCutchen seeing lots of pitches, particularly off speed, this season

Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen hits a solo homer against the Phillies Friday, March 14, 2014, at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla.

Pirates/MLB Videos

Tuesday, May 13, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Andrew McCutchen knows he's being pitched to differently this year compared to past seasons.

For one thing, he's seeing more off-speed pitches. According to TruMedia, McCutchen is seeing “soft” pitches — defined as changeups, curves, sliders and other breaking balls — in 42.4 percent of his plate appearances. Among players with 100 or more plate apperances, that's the 15th-highest total in the majors. Teammate Pedro Alvarez is sixth at 44.3 percent.

“I'm getting pitched differently, and I see that, but it's all about hitting what they give me and if it's in the strike zone, just being ready to hit regardless of what pitch it is,” said McCutchen, whose .321 batting average is eighth-best in the National League.

McCutchen's base-on-balls percentage is 17.2 percent, up from 11.6 percent in 2013 and is eighth highest in the NL. His on-base percentage is .438, a career high, third-highest in the majors and up from .404 last season. McCutchen is seeing 4.18 pitches per plate appearance, sixth most in the NL, and has seen 3-0 counts in 9.5 percent of his plate appearances, the fourth-highest percentage in the league.

The Pirates center fielder also is batting .311 with two strikes, the fifth-best average in the majors. Part of that, manager Clint Hurdle believes, is confidence. He saw a similar thing happen with Larry Walker, Todd Helton and Michael Young as they matured and gained experience.

“Those early counts that are 0-2, 1-2, now the pitchers really don't know what to do,” Hurdle said. “They do know what to do, but they don't execute as well, and before you know it, it's 3-2. I can remember Helton, time after time it's 0-2. OK, ball one, foul ball, ball two, all of a sudden it's an eight-pitch at-bat, then it's a double in the gap. You've seen Andrew do that now where it's 0-2, no big deal. I got this. I'm going to take care of the strike zone and hit it where it's pitched. It's played out really well for him.”

McCutchen knows he's going to see a lot of pitches and isn't afraid to hit with a strike or two on him. He's always been a patient hitter, he said, so that hasn't been an adjustment he's had to make.

“It's more of just getting your pitch and hitting it. That's the thing,” he said. “When they give you that one pitch or maybe two pitches to hit, it's seeing it and hitting it. A lot of times before, I was getting that pitch and it was more likely a fastball. Now things may be a little different. It may be a changeup or a curveball to hit, but it's just being ready and driving it.”

Karen Price is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach her at or via Twitter @KarenPrice_Trib.




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