Stats Corner: Few young Bucs avoid outs like McCutchen
When it comes to avoiding outs, Andrew McCutchen just keeps getting better. The reigning National League MVP and Silver Slugger winner is taking his offensive game to a new level in 2014, getting on base at a .425 clip that's bested by just Troy Tulowitzki and Shin-Soo Choo among qualified batters.
McCutchen has boosted his OBP in four consecutive seasons, from .364 in 2011 to this year's high-water mark during his age-27 campaign. In fact, few young Bucs in the franchise's 128-year major league history have ever been so skilled at reaching base.
Through age 27, McCutchen holds the fifth-highest OBP in Pirates history among batters taking at least 3,000 trips to the plate. Paul Waner, Arky Vaughan and Ralph Kiner — all Hall of Famers — and Jason Kendall are the only Bucs with a better OBP in their early-to-mid-20s.
Finding a way on
Batter Years OBP
Paul Waner 1926-30 .430
Arky Vaughan 1932-39 .420
Ralph Kiner 1946-50 .400
Jason Kendall 1996-2001 .389
Andrew McCutchen 2009-14 .383
McCutchen keeps impressive company among his positional peers, too. He has the seventh-highest OBP among center fielders through age 27, topped only by six guys enshrined in Cooperstown: Richie Ashburn (.387), Willie Mays (.393), Al Simmons (.396), Joe DiMaggio (.403), Tris Speaker (.414) and Mickey Mantle (.435).
You might think McCutchen has drastically increased his OBP and walk rate (from 11.6 percent last season to 17.1) because pitchers are scared of him. But he's actually getting more pitches over the plate this year (46.1 percent) than last (44.2), according to Fangraphs. Instead, McCutchen is displaying sharper plate discipline: he's chasing 23.2 percent of pitches thrown out of the zone, down from 27.9 percent in 2013.