Andrew McCutchen was awarded the NL center field Gold Glove award tonight. He became the first Pirate to earn the honor since Nate McLouth in 2008, and it’s certainly a very nice honor for the young superstar. Players and coaches voted on the award, and Cutch beat out finalists Michael Bourn and Drew Stubbs.
Of course, the Gold Glove has as much (or more) to do with offense as it does defense. McCutchen made his way on to the map with his stellar, nearly-MVP-worthy season at the plate, carrying the Pirates for a good part of the year. He also undoubtedly has great speed, and used it to make his fair share of highlight-reel catches. That’s what earned him this award, which is certainly commendable. That said, I don’t think you’ll find too many people (even Pirates fans) that will call him the best center fielder in the NL. You’ll recall that we had this same discussion when McLouth won in ’08 – much of it applies here as well.
You could use defensive metrics (which certainly are flawed, but the disparity between Cutch and Bourn is too striking to be ignored), or you could just use your eyes to judge Cutch’s defense. Neither is very forgiving. In my own opinion, McCutchen had plenty of problems in the outfield this year – notably playing balls at the warning track/wall and throwing to the infield. I’d put his pure range up against anybody, but defense is about more than range (and PNC Park doesn’t suit that strength very well – many of his best plays came in much more spacious outfields on the road). I wouldn’t call McCutchen the terrible center fielder that some of the numbers may say he is, but I certainly don’t think he’s the best and probably wouldn’t even say he’s above average at this point.
Regardless, it’s still a nice honor for Cutch, who had an outstanding season overall. He has certainly shown off his defensive value plenty of occasions, and the fact that he won shows that players/coaches around the league have plenty of respect for him. I doubt this will be his last Gold Glove.
Honored to have won the Gold Glove! To be apart of this elite class of defenders means so much to me.Hard work is paying off!
— andrew mccutchen (@TheCUTCH22) October 31, 2012
PHOTO: Jeff Curry-US PRESSWIRE