Found July 12, 2012 on

When the Pirates signed Andrew McCutchen to a six year $51.5m contract this off-season there were very few who thought it was anything other than a bargaining. The young centrefielder may be less than 10% of the way through that deal, but he’s already showing that the Pirates may have one of the most team-friendly deals in baseball on their hands. Elected to the All-Star team after a .362/.414/.625 first half which includes 18 home runs and 14 stolen bases, McCutchen is placing himself among the favourites for MVP consideration come the end of the year.

With their best player front and centre, the Pirates find themselves atop the NL Central at the break with a 48-37 record which must be a surprise to all but the most wildly optimistic Bucs fans. Outside of some solid production at second base from Neil Walker and a few sudden displays of power hitting from Pedro Alvarez, McCutchen has been the only member of the lineup that has been pulling his weight. On the pitching side, James McDonald has had a huge breakout year while getting back into the NL seems to have done wonders for AJ Burnett’s pitching. The chart below shows how the team’s production breaks down in terms of fWAR accumulated up to the All-Star break.

While it’s generally recognised that adding up WAR values isn’t a particularly useful exercise, what this does do is give an idea of just how valuable McCutchen has been to the Pirates this year: his 4.5 fWAR is almost a quarter of the total fWAR produced by Pirates players. His share of the team’s total production is actually even more impressive than the chart above allows for. For clarity I’ve not included players who have 0.0 or less fWAR to this point. Fangrpahs adjudges that the poor performances of Jose Tabata, Clint Barmes and others come to a total of -3.0 fWAR. Once you account for the ‘negative’ production as well, McCutchen’s performance looks even more impressive. It’s important to recognise that any iteration of WAR has it’s limitations, but it does provide a reasonable snapshot of a player’s value. However you prefer to slice it, McCutchen has been near priceless to the overachieving Pirates this year.


Andrew McCutchen and Joel Hanrahan both contribute in NL’s 8-0 win

Final: National League 8, American League 0 The game was well out of reach when both players entered the game, but it didn’t stop either of the Pirates’ two all-stars from chipping in a bit. Andrew McCutchen entered the game in the bottom of the fifth inning to take over for the game’s eventual MVP Melky Cabrera. McCutchen singled on a line drive to left field in the sixth...

Tim Kurkjian: Pirates “are going to get a bat”

From Baseball Tonight last night: “And I’ve been told by people within the Pirates organization they are going to get a bat. Either an outfielder or a first baseman…They are not fooling around. After all these years under .500, they have a chance to make the playoffs. They are going to go for it.” Kurkjian sounded pretty emphatic during the segment as you can hear from the...

Pittsburgh Pirates: Trade rumors, part 2

Check out Part 1 of the series right here.  The players covered were Carlos Quentin, Justin Upton, Josh Willingham, and Chase Headley. The second in a multi-part series laying out what pieces are available to the Pittsburgh Pirates, how well they’ll mesh with the team, and what the Pirates may have to move in return…      (Opening image credit, SD Examiner) Part 2: ...

7/12 MiLB Recap: Tim Alderson strikes out 8

Jeff Locke started the first game of a double-header for the Tribe and gave up four runs (two earned) over five innings. He struck out three and walked two. Jose Tabata was 0 for 3 in the first game and 1 for 3 with a walk in the second game. He scored the game winning run on a walk-off single by Yamaico Navarro in game two after leading off the eighth inning with a walk. Starling...

Mark Appel turns down the Pirates’ $3.8M offer

There you have it. Mark Appel will be returning to Stanford next season instead of becoming a Pittsburgh Pirate. The Pirates will get the ninth overall pick in next year’s draft as compensation for Appel (in addition to whatever pick they normally end up with at the end of the year). This is unfortunate. It’s a shame for the Pirates, who drafted the best player available at their...

What will the Pittsburgh Pirates look like in one month?

For years, it has been the Pittsburgh Pirates trading their one and only productive player to someone else for a bucket full of prospects that were nothing but unproven. That worked so well that it was a key piece to the past 19 years of losing. Now the Pirates are talked about as buyers for [...]

First Pitch: My Mid-Season Apologies

I often get accused of apologizing for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Sometimes that’s because I prefer to take a patient approach, rather than rushing to make a judgement. Sometimes that’s because I put out a lofty projection for a player. Usually it’s ignored that I’ve got a pretty good track record, and that I also can be lower on some players than others. What I find funny about...

This Week in Fantasy Baseball: Week 14

The Pittsburgh Pirates finished the first half of the 2012 season in first place in the NL Central, one game ahead of the Cincinnati Reds. At eleven games over .500, the Pirates are poised to end their streak of losing seasons at 19 years. The turnaround in Pittsburgh can be attributed to solid pitching, and the emergence of NL batting average leader Andrew McCutchen. The 25 year...

This Date in Pirates History: July 12

Today we have six former Pittsburgh Pirates players that were born on this date. Earlier this morning we dedicated a full bio to one of the better pitchers in team history, Lee Meadows, a star for two Pirates World Series teams. That can be read here. In this article we have five more players, plus a Jolly Roger Rewind from John Fredland. Tom Gorzelanny (1982) Pitcher for the Pirates...

Pirates-Brewers Preview

The Pittsburgh Pirates exit the All-Star break in first place for the first time in 15 years. It's been significantly longer since the last time a pitcher started three consecutive major league games, something Milwaukee's Zack Greinke will achieve in the Brewers' second-half opener. The Pirates look to continue their march toward a division title Friday night when...

When the Farm Yields the Harvest

The Pittsburgh Pirates and the Washington Nationals (formally the Montreal Expos) have been two of the more irrelevant teams over the past score (a score is 20 years. If it was good enough for Abe Lincoln, then it’s good enough for me). While the Expos tragicly traded away Pedro Martinez, Brandon Phillips, Cliff Lee and Grady Sizemore for  a return of Carl Pavano and Bartolo Colon...

MLB 2012 Mid-Season Awards

With the MLB All-Star Game concluded, we have now officially entered the start of the second half of the season. But before we fall into the dog days of summer, it's time to first reflect on some of the impressive performances of the first half. Here are our MLB Mid-Season Awards: NL MVP – Andrew McCutchen (Pittsburgh Pirates) Check out the numbers: Andrew McCutchen...
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