Pittsburgh Pirates: How Andrew McCutchen Compares to Other NL MVP Candidates

Allan SmithContributor IIIJune 23, 2012

Pittsburgh Pirates: How Andrew McCutchen Compares to Other NL MVP Candidates

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    2012 has been filled with interesting storylines for the Pittsburgh Pirates. There has been the emergence of James McDonald, the resurgence of A.J. Burnett and the power display of Pedro Alvarez.

    Oh, and Andrew McCutchen's MVP-caliber season.

    Over the next few slides, I will display how Andrew McCutchen compares to the other NL MVP candidates as he tries to become the Pirates' first MVP since Barry Bonds.

McCutchen vs. Melky Cabrera

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    Melky Cabrera has had a tremendous year for the San Francisco Giants, building off of what he did last year in Kansas City. He has a league-leading 102 hits and trails only David Wright and Joey Votto in batting average.

    His Giants, always in need of offensive support, are at the top of the wild-card standings as a result.

    Even though Cabrera has a higher WAR than does McCutchen, I believe McCutchen has the advantage in this debate because of his duty on the team. McCutchen is counted on to be a run-producer as well as a run-provider, whereas Cabrera is counted on to be a table-setter in San Fran.

    McCutchen's OPS is higher than Cabrera's by nearly 60 points. McCutchen has also managed more stolen bases, and his game-changing speed both on offense and defense has to be accounted for as well.

                          R   H  2B  3B  HR RBI  SB  BB SO  BA OBP  SLG  OPS WAR

    McCutchen  38 85 13  4   12   42  14  24  53 .346 .402 .577 .979  2.7

    Cabrera       48 102 15 7   6    35   10 18  40 .360 .396 .527 .923  3.2

    Advantage: McCutchen

McCutchen vs. Carlos Beltran

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    Carlos Beltran has replaced Albert Pujols' bat in the Cardinals lineup as well as anyone in Missouri could have hoped for. He is near the league lead in homers, RBI and OPS.

    However, his Cardinals are behind the Pirates in the standings, showing that McCutchen's efforts are yielding better team results, always a key factor in the MVP discussion since the MVP is almost always on a playoff-bound team.

    McCutchen's average is nearly 40 points higher, and he has more of an effect on the basepaths.

    Couple that with the fact that the OPS and WAR of the two players are nearly identical, and there is a convincing case for McCutchen based on not only his own success, but the success of the team, something the baseball writers always factor in.

                          R   H  2B  3B  HR RBI  SB  BB SO  BA OBP  SLG  OPS WAR

    McCutchen  38 85 13  4   12   42  14  24  53 .346 .402 .577 .979  2.7

    Beltran         43 75  9   1   19   52   7   34  52 .309 .396 .588 .985  2.6

    Advantage: McCutchen

McCutchen vs. David Wright

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    David Wright has been exactly what McCutchen has been for the Pirates offense—a superstar playing among many less-talented players.

    Wright has led a team even more surprising than the Bucs so far and has this version of the Miracle Mets right in the thick of contention, even though they reside in the uber-competitive NL East.

    While McCutchen has more homers, RBI and steals, Wright takes the advantage with BA, OPB, SLG, OPS and WAR by significant margins.

    With both teams performing well above expectations, Wright has the advantage in this debate.

                          R   H  2B  3B  HR RBI  SB  BB SO  BA OBP  SLG  OPS WAR

    McCutchen  38 85 13  4   12   42  14  24  53 .346 .402 .577 .979  2.7

    Wright          47 88 24  2    8    40   7   43  36 .361 .457 .574 1.031  3.8

    Advantage: Wright

McCutchen vs. Carlos Gonzalez

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    Carlos Gonzalez is having yet another phenomenal year for the underachieving Colorado Rockies.

    While he and McCutchen have very similar numbers, the effect of being on a winning team, having those numbers making a difference in the win column, gives McCutchen the edge in this debate. His WAR being 1.2 wins better than Gonzalez's reinforces this.

                          R   H  2B  3B  HR RBI  SB  BB SO  BA OBP  SLG  OPS WAR

    McCutchen  38 85 13  4   12   42  14  24  53 .346 .402 .577 .979  2.7

    Gonzalez     51 85 16  3   17   51  10  24  53 .332 .391 .617 1.009  1.5

    Advantage: McCutchen

McCutchen vs. Ryan Braun

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    Ryan Braun, last year's MVP and current NL HR leader, has put together quite the season for the fourth-place Milwaukee Brewers. Braun's numbers have the edge on McCutchen's, and his WAR is .7 higher.

    Yet, just as Braun defeated Matt Kemp, who had superior numbers, for last year's MVP award because his team performed much better, McCutchen will have that in his favor as long as the Pirates sustain their success.

    Overall, this race is close, but I give the advantage to Braun at the moment. Come October, if the young Bucs are in the postseason, look for this to flip in McCutchen's favor.

                          R   H  2B  3B  HR RBI  SB  BB SO  BA OBP  SLG  OPS WAR

    McCutchen  38 85 13  4   12   42  14  24  53 .346 .402 .577 .979  2.7

    Braun           47 81 12  2   20   51  12  29  54 .321 .401 .623 1.024  3.4

    Advantage: Braun (Slightly)

McCutchen vs. Joey Votto

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    While the case for McCutchen can be argued against all of the previous players, he can't quite compare to the best player in the NL right now, Joey Votto.

    Votto is on the only team in the NL Central ahead of the Pirates in the standings, the Cincinnati Reds. Votto leads the league in average, OBP, SLG, OPS and WAR, and plays for a team currently in a playoff spot.

                          R   H  2B  3B  HR RBI  SB  BB SO  BA OBP  SLG  OPS WAR

    McCutchen  38 85 13  4   12   42  14  24  53 .346 .402 .577 .979  2.7

    Votto            45 87 30  0   13   45   4   56  54 .363 .483 .650 1.133  4.2

    Advantage: Votto

Conclusion

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    As of today, Andrew McCutchen is right in the thick of the MVP race, clearly one of the top five position players in the NL.

    If the Pirates manage to make the postseason, passing up Votto's Reds or Wright's Mets along the way, and McCutchen keeps up the pace he set in May and has continued through June, the odds are in Andrew's favor that he'll become the Pirates' first MVP since baseball's all-time home run king called Pittsburgh home.