I didn’t see much of this game beyond highlights and so I don’t have a lot to offer beyond, “When you’re in the shape the Pirates are in right now with injuries the best you can do is just take each game as it comes and see how many wins you can somehow rack up,” so instead of a straight recap let’s just use this post as an Andrew McCutchen June Appreciation Post.
In the month of May, Andrew McCutchen hit .310/.435/.380. It’s really hard to characterize that as a “bad” month, but given what we’ve come to expect from McCutchen, the .380 SLG and six extra base hits (five doubles and a triple) over 28 games was somewhat out of character. On June 1st, the Pirates played the Dodgers on Sunday Night Baseball and ‘Cutch had a home run and two doubles. After tonight’s 2-for-2 with a homer and two walks performance, McCutchen is hitting .421/.500/1.053 in the month of June. After having just six extra base hits in the entire month of May, he’s got six home runs and six doubles in ten games through June’s first 11 days. This incredible hot streak has his batting average and slugging percentage on the season up to about where you’d expect them to be, along with the added bonus of a career-high OBP (which should be approaching .430 after tonight). After his big breakout year in 2012, the only two realistic criticisms you could levy on McCutchen were: 1.) that he struck out just a bit too much, and 2.) that his .400 OBP was pretty dependent on his .327 batting average. He started to cut down on the strikeouts last year (from 19.6% in 2012 to 15% in 2013), and now that his walk rate is spiking, he’s drawn more walks (48) than he has strikeouts (44) through 65 games. It seems like every year he’s found a bit of his game to refine, and at this point in 2014, it’s fair to wonder if there’s anything left to be refined.
The Pirates have a pitching staff that wasn’t very good when June started, and is now falling apart at the seams. Their second best hitter just had his appendix out. Most of the fans and writers that cover the team are starting wonder if it’s time to have a “buyers or sellers” debate. And the Pirates are 6-4 in June because Andrew McCutchen has somehow managed to ascend to another level at the plate. Watching McCutchen on any given night is fun, but watching him when he’s in the zone like this is just pure pleasure.