Andrew McCutchen began his major league career on June 4, 2009. His numbers last year were beyond even the most optimistic expectations. He posted an OPS of .836 and an OPS+ of 122. Surprisingly, he slugged 12 home runs. He stole 22 bases while only being caught five times, an excellent 81% success rate. He played a good defensive center field, not always taking the best routes or making the best throws, but showing outstanding range.
In 2010, Andrew came out of the gate on fire. The morning of June 20, the day the Pirates feted their 1960 World Series Championship team, McCutchen was hitting .319/.394/.484. He had seven homers and 18 stolen bases. Having played 175 major league games, he was clearly becoming a superstar.
But, all of a sudden, that path to superstardom has veered off track. In 54 games since June 20, Cutch is slashing .215/.286/.360, for a .646 OPS. In that time he has five homers and eight stolen bases. His defense, while not substandard, certainly hasn't been spectacular.
I don't have any answers to Cutch's extended slump. There are plenty of theories to go around.
- The grind of a full 162 game season is wearing on him.
- Losing all the time is wearing on him.
- The weight of expectations is catching up with him and he feels pressure to carry a very bad team.
- He is battling injuries, particularly to his shoulder, that are impacting his performance.
I'm sure there is some validity to all of these theories. The larger point is that Andrew McCutchen is on his way to having a very poor second half of his first full major league season. I don't mean to sound the alarm bells too loudly and I realize that 50 games or 80 games is still a relatively small sample size, but I think it is appropriate to raise some concerns.
There is no question that McCutchen is one of the players the Pirates hope to build a winning organization around. Cutch's performance the past two months should be monitored closely. The 2010 major league season has been nothing short of a disaster for the franchise. The organization needs to keep close tabs on its franchise player to make sure that he continues to develop into the player that everyone envisions. What we've seen in the last 54 games is not what the team or the fanbase is banking on.