It is easy to write about Andrew McCutchen. As a personal childhood favorite of mine, along with countless others, there is very little we don’t pay attention to from the Pittsburgh Pirates’ greatest player of the 21st century. Even when he departed for San Francisco and other organizations, we still tuned in to what he was up to and how he was playing.
When we all first caught wind of a potential return in the Steel City, plenty of us raised our hands to cover the story of McCutchen coming back to Pittsburgh. With that being said, a lot of what was written about the aging star was expected for a veteran athlete. We wrote about what he once was, what he could be at 36-years old, and how he would be a mentor to younger players. However, I don’t know that anyone thought that McCutchen would start off 2023 this hot, and playing some of his best baseball in years.
Now lets not get ahead of ourselves, it’s barely three weeks into the season, but once again that’s the McCutchen affect. Of course yinzers are chanting MVP at PNC Park when he’s up to bat, but the numbers don’t lie either.
Through 16 games, McCutchen has come out looking polished and refined in his second act as a Pirate. In that time frame, ‘Cutch is hitting .302 and has tallied 16 hits, with 7 RBIs, 3 home runs, 11 walks, and 3 stolen bases. On top of that, an OPS of .946 is nothing to scoff at either. Serving primarily as a DH has seen excellent results so far this season, and generating offense in crunch time has also been a positive.
With that, it can not be overstated the kind of impact McCutchen has had on the locker room as one of the mentors on the team. Guys in the outfield like Bryan Reynolds and Jack Suwinski have benefitted already this season with having a veteran like McCutchen around to fine tune their games. Reynolds is starting off the season hot in a way he never has before, and Suwinski is coming into his role as a future everyday outfielder for the Buccos.
Back when McCutchen signed in January, I would not have predicted that’d he’d be performing as well as he is. Personally I loved the signing, but I came to the conclusion that it was more for PR than anything and that the Pirates signed another veteran who was over the hill. Now I am more than happy to say McCutchen is far exceeding my expectations, and is playing inspired baseball.
At the end of the day, Pirates’ fans are just happy that Andrew McCutchen is back where he belongs, but I think it’s fair to say that the former MVP returns to All-Star form, and is representing Pittsburgh properly.