Andrew McCutchen, a 5’10” outfielder from Fort Meade, FL, was initially picked by the Pirates in the first round of the 2005 amateur draft with the 11th overall pick. He split 2005 between the “Rookie” level Gulf Coast League with the Pirates (.297, 30 RBI in 45 games) and the “A-“ level Williamsport Crosscutters of the New York Penn League (13 games, .346, five RBI). 2006 would see him earn two more promotions, first to the “A” level Southern Atlantic League Hickory Crawdads (114 games, .291, 14 home runs, 62 RBI), then later to the “AA” level Altoona Curve in the Eastern League (20 games, .308, three home runs, 12 RBI).
In 2007, McCutchen remained with Altoona for most of the season (118 games, .258, 10 home runs, 48 RBI), later appearing with the International League’s “AAA” level Indianapolis Indians for 17 contests (.313, five RBI, four stolen bases). 2008 would see him spend the entirety of his campaign with Indianapolis (135 contests, .283, nine home runs, 34 stolen bases, 50 RBI). He earned his major league debut after 49 games with Indianapolis (49 games, .303, 20 RBI).
McCutchen played in 108 games for the Pirates in 2009, hitting an NL sixth best nine triples and making a league third ranking 10 outfield assists. He hit .286 with 12 home runs, 22 stolen bases, and 54 RBI, scoring 74 runs. He finished fourth in the NL Rookie of the Year vote. In his debut on June 4th, he went 2-for-4 with a walk, an RBI, and three runs as the Pirates defeated the New York Mets, 11-6. The Pirates liked him in the leadoff spot and in center field. His best game of the season was on August 1st, as he went 4-for-5 with three home runs and six RBI in an 11-6 win over the Washington Senators. Pittsburgh was no great shakes, finishing with a 59-103 record, 34 games behind the Philadelphia Phillies for the NL East crown.
In 2010, McCutchen appeared in 154 games, hitting .286 with 16 home runs, an NL fifth best 33 stolen bases, and 56 RBI.He also ranked third again in outfield assists, with eight. He had 46 multi-hit games, including 10 occasions on which he collected three or more. On May 14th, he went 5-for-5 with a walk, a home run, five runs, and two RBI in a 10-6 win over the Cubs. He still batted his share of leadoff, but was also sometimes slotted in the second or third spot. The Pirates finished even worse, at 57-105 and 34 games behind the NL Central winning Cincinnati Reds. It was their worst performance in 56 years.
Things started to look a little better for the Pirates in 2011, improving their record by 15 games to an NL Central fourth best 72-90. McCutchen likewise showed improvement. His batting average dropped to .259, but he increased his power numbers, hitting 23 round-trippers with 89 RBI. He also stole 23 bases. He made his first all-star team and ranked seventh in the NL with 678 plate appearances, second with nine outfield assists, and fifth with 89 walks. The Pirates played him at leadoff, third, and cleanup. By win probability average, his best game was on June 8th, when he went 3-for-5 with a double, a home run, a sacrifice fly, two runs, and two RBI (he also reached on an error) in a 12 inning, 3-2 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
2012 would see McCutchen further blossom, hitting an NL second best .327 with 31 home runs, 96 RBI, and 20 stolen bases. He earned a Golden Glove, a Silver Slugger, an all-star invitation, and finished third in the NL MVP vote. He led the NL with 194 hits, placing second with 328 total bases. Manager Clint Hurdle batted him third, where he led the team with 157 games played. He had 53 multi-hit games, including 11 three-hitters and six four-hitters. In an inter-league matchup against the Detroit Tigers on May 19th, he hit two home runs, accounting for all the Pirates offense in a 4-3 victory. The Pirates improved by seven more games, to 79-83.
McCutchen has improved his WAR significantly in each of his first four seasons, from 2.2 to 3.6 to 5.3 to 7.0. If he stays on his current progression of increase, he will end next season at number 25 on this list (below Jason Kendall and Andy Van Slyke, but above Brian Giles and Rick Rhoden).
All-Time Statline: Four seasons, 577 games, .290/.374/.484, 629-for-2168, 362 runs, 124 doubles, 25 triples, 82 home runs, 295 RBI, 98 stolen bases, 283 walks, 430 strikeouts, 18.1 wins above replacement.