The great debate regarding the MVP Award in Major League Baseball always comes down to one question: Is it rewarded to the best player of the season, or the one most influential in their team’s success? No matter which side you fall on, there is no denying that Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates is the clear cut favorite for the National League’s Most Valuable Player award.
By energizing the team and the city while sporting his signature dreadlocks and zebra socks along the way, McCutchen has cemented himself as absolute stud in Major League Baseball, and it is time for everyone to take notice. Athlon Sports is one outlet which has taken notice, ranking the Pirate star’s performance from May to July of this season among the best stretches of all time.
At the time of this article’s publication (subject to change when actually published), McCutchen is boasting a hefty .359 average, with 24 home runs and 72 runs batted in. Even more impressive, the young outfielder has a .423 on base percentage, consistently getting on base to produce runs for the upstart Pirates. In terms of team rankings, McCutchen leads the team in hits (153), home runs, runs batted in, and average, all of which are essential categories for MVP candidates. For a reference point, consider the stats of last season’s National League MVP Ryan Braun.
Stepping away from Pittsburgh and looking at McCutchen with amongst all players in the Major League, he is still leading the way in average, while slotting in the top 5 in the National League for home runs. If you subscribe to the school of thought that the MVP should go to the best player of the league, McCutchen is a viable candidate. He has a unique combination of speed, power, and hitting for average, something any player would envy.
Where his case is most strongly shown, however, is how valuable he has been to the team. McCutchen is the only every day player on the Pirates batting over .300, as well as the only player with double digit steals. Even more importantly, he is leading a team that finished 72-90 in 2011 to a shot at the postseason, with a 65-53 record. This is the Pirates best chance in years to secure a record over .500, let alone reach the playoffs. Pittsburgh has not had a winning season since 1992, when McCutchen was just six years old.
While he has been to the All-Star Game in each of the last two seasons, it is time for McCutchen to consistently be mentioned among the best players in the game. He ranked just 41st overall in ESPN’s preseason poll, ranking the best players in the game. His average is 102 points higher than Mark Texiera, who ranked 32nd in the poll, while also beating out last year’s NL Batting Champion Jose Reyes, who trails McCutchen by 74 points. Playing on a small market team has made it harder for the outfielder to achieve star status, but his play is deserving of some major recognition.
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