Andrew McCutchen: Not Just the Pittsburgh Pirates' MVP

Jonathan IrwinContributor IIJuly 13, 2012

KANSAS CITY, MO - JULY 10:  National League All-Star Andrew McCutchen #22 of the Pittsburgh Pirates looks on during batting practice prior to the 83rd MLB All-Star Game at Kauffman Stadium on July 10, 2012 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Five-tool players weave their routes across the grass, slide effortlessly into a stolen base and wallop line drives over stadium walls. Center field has quickly—and explosively—become baseball’s most talented position.

Names like Matt Kemp, Curtis Granderson, Josh Hamilton and Jacoby Ellsbury.

Would you believe that perhaps the greatest of them all plays in Pittsburgh? As unbelievable as that may seem, it’s true.

The Pirates are back on the MLB map. For the second season in a row they’re leading the NL Central at the All-Star break. Without their center fielder none of that would be possible.

His name is Andrew McCutchen. Quietly, and effectively, the All-Star has become one of the best players in baseball and an instant MVP candidate.

Things didn’t seem so to start the season. Through April, McCutchen was hitting a respectable .302, but with zero home runs.

A couple months later and McCutchen is leading the NL batting title race (.362) and has the second best OPS in his league (1.039). He leads the Pirates in all triple crown categories.

Did I mention his 18 home runs and 14 stolen bases make him a 30-30 candidate?

This isn’t a prolonged hot streak or a wunderkind season. This is a player playing to his full potential.

Chances are for the last couple of seasons you didn’t know Andrew McCutchen. Or you knew him, but didn’t pay attention to him. Well pay attention now.

For years McCutchen was one of the league’s top prospects. In 2009—his rookie year— he hit an impressive .286 with 12 home runs and 22 stolen bases. For the next two seasons he would hit .272 averaging 19 bombs and 28 swipes per year.

Nothing too impressive or eye opening—unless you play for the Pirates.

Now—at the age of 25—McCutchen is finally getting the respect he deserves. It was by no fluke that he made the All-Star team. He’s one of the best players the MLB has to offer, and yes he plays for the Pirates.

Every day he laces up his cleats, puts on his glove and trots out to centerfield, completely ignoring the weight of 19 consecutive losing seasons that ride on his shoulders.

He does it all with the attitude of a champion, a bright smile and some of the sickest dreadlocks the MLB has to offer.

The Pirates are a legitimate playoff team. That’s because of Andrew McCutchen. He’s an All-Star and the National League MVP candidate.

Learn his name, because he’s going to be lighting this game up for a long time.