Originally posted on Raise the Jolly Roger!  |  Last updated 11/14/13
Andrew McCutchen ran away with the National League Most Valuable Player award, earning 28 of the 30 first-place votes. He is the first Pirate to win the award since Barry Bonds did it in 1992, which of course was the Bucs’ last winning season until this year. It’s sort of a fitting, full-circle type of thing – the beginning of the losing streak was strongly associated with one MVP outfielder, and it finally came to an end at the hands of another. McCutchen did everything well in 2013 and is a deserving winner. It’s not as if he blew everyone away with his numbers at the plate, but a .404 OBP (3rd in NL), .508 SLG (6th), 158 OPS+ (2nd), and a .317 AVG (7th) showed that he was a more complete hitter than anyone in the league, besides possibly Paul Goldschmidt – a fellow finalist. Goldy may have had the slight edge at the plate, but not in anything else. Cutch plays a key defensive position where elite hitters are rare, and his value in the field increased significantly this season as well. He also had a big edge on the bases (27 SB). Yadier Molina, the other finalist, certainly couldn’t say that, and while he was a more valuable defensive player than McCutchen and gets similar (and additional) credit for being a great catcher, his offensive numbers didn’t quite measure up. Obviously, though, the narrative of leading the Pirates to the promised land is what gave Cutch the overwhelming victory. I feel that the MVP is an individual award and should have nothing to do with how good or bad a player’s teammates happen to be…but the reality is, the voting simply doesn’t work that way. I think the case summarized in the above paragraph was enough for Cutch to win, but it’s worth noting that he had a better season last year (although the defense and baserunning wasn’t as good) and finished third mainly because the Bucs collapsed. This year, he and the Bucs both stayed hot down the stretch, he was clearly the best player on the storybook team, and he is a tremendously likable guy. As a Pirate fan, I truly think seeing McCutchen win is more special than it is for most fans of other teams when on of their players wins an award like this. It’s hard to explain exactly why, but I think most would agree with me. You could tell they wanted it badly as the “M-V-P” chants serenaded him constantly from the middle of the summer to his final home playoff at bat. Cutch was one of the only constants for the Bucs as they emerged out of the deep pit of losing and misery. He goes beyond this year, he goes beyond the Clint Hurdle era, heck – he goes beyond the Neal Huntington era. He went from the team’s only prospect offering legitmate hope to an exciting rookie replacing Nate McLouth, to a guy that tried to carry an otherwise bad team but ran out of gas late in the season, to a truly elite player that is now etched among the franchise history’s and the league’s best. Pirate fans had a connection to Cutch all along, as he personally represented and led the change from hope to real success. (And hopefully sustained success, as he’s under team control through 2018.)  And one thing that makes fans especially proud and happy to see him win is the fact that he has done it all the right way. He’s an absolute class act – as much of one as you will ever see in sports. He’s a great teammate with a fun-loving but extremely hardworking and competitive attitude. He’s embraced Pittsburgh, signing a long term deal and getting involved in the community. He’s ascended through the organization steadily since being drafted back in 2005 – this isn’t a big-money free agent or some guy everyone had ticketed for stardom in the eighth grade. McCutchen is an ideal role model and deserves to be a true icon in Pittsburgh and baseball, and this award cements his status as just that. Yadier Molina got the only two non-Cutch first place votes – both from St. Louis writers – but finished third. Goldschmidt finished second. Full results are here. Russell Martin was the only other Pirate to make it on to the board with one tenth place vote.
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