On Thursday, the MLB Network ran a countdown of the top 10 center fielders in the game today. The criteria is who will be the best in the 2011 season. Andrew McCutchen was named the No. 1 center fielder in all of baseball:
Greg Amsinger: "It's time to find out the number one center fielder in major league baseball is right now and he resides in Pittsburgh. The Pirates Andrew McCutchen is #1. He's just 24-years-old. In 2010 in 154 games, he hit .286, 16 home runs, 56 RBI and scored 94 runs for a team that didn't win all that much, 33 stolen bases. Now he did have five errors, tied for second most (Matt Kemp of the Dodgers). But was fifth in the National League in the stolen base department. Eight outfield assists, third best in the National League. Andrew McCutchen right now, is he the number one center fielder in major league baseball?"
The rest of the transcript is at the link.
Also this week, MLB Network's Ken Rosenthal picked Cutch as the best center fielder right now:
"I'll go with the guy that no one talks about because he plays for the Pittsburgh Pirates. That would be Andrew McCutchen. People don't realize how good a player this kid is becoming and is already. Last year amongst center fielders, fourth in OPS behind Torii Hunter (who no longer is a center fielder), Vernon Wells and Colby Rasmus. McCutchen Is a guy who is a five tool talent; stole 33 bases last year. We're going to hear a lot more about him in the years ahead and frankly, we should be hearing about him now."
Another mention is from Jayson Stark's All-Underrated team. McCutchen was the selection in center field:
No full-time center fielder in either league had a higher on-base percentage last year (i.e., Hamilton doesn't count). No full-time center fielder in either league had more runs created. And McCutchen, Shane Victorino and Drew Stubbs were the only NL center fielders whose power/speed package produced more than 15 homers and 30 steals. No wonder McCutchen is a player who inspired one NL scout to say, "I think he'll be an All-Star."
There's also the Sports Illustrated piece from a few months ago, listing McCutchen as the biggest breakout star for 2011. He is compared to Ken Griffey Jr. in the Ben Glicksman piece. That's too much, because Junior was a once-in-a-generation talent both offensively and defensively, but it's still cool to see.
McCutchen is getting a lot of hype in the national scene, most of it well-deserved. In 2009, he was robbed of the Rookie of the Year, but after his 2010 campaign he is getting a lot of respect as one of the best players at his position, and possibly in all of baseball.