Where Does Andrew McCutchen's 2012 Rank in Pittsburgh Pirates History?
The performance that Andrew McCutchen has put on display in leading the Pirates during this 2012 campaign is causing some of the older fans to reminisce about the days of a skinny Barry Bonds and even way back to the Sister Sledge era.
As we enter the crucial final month of the season, the ultra-talented center fielder is a favorite to take home the National League MVP award, and consequently the Pirates are on the cusp of their first winning season in two decades.
As the records continue to fall and the accolades pile up it begs the question, where does McCutchen's 2012 rank among the top performances in the Pirates' illustrious history?
Here is a look at the numbers for Pirates players in each of the seven seasons they won an MVP award:
(1927) Paul Waner: .380/.437/.549, 237 H, 9 HR, 131 RBI
(1960) Dick Groat: .325/.371/.394, 186 H, 2 HR, 50 RBI
(1966) Roberto Clemente: .317/.360/.536, 202 H, 29 HR, 119 RBI
(1978) Dave Parker: .334/.394/.585, 194 H, 30 HR, 117 RBI, 20 SB
(1979) Willie Stargell: .281/.352/.552, 119 H, 32 HR, 82 RBI
(1990) Barry Bonds: .301/.406/.565, 156 H, 33 HR, 114 RBI, 52 SB
(1992) Barry Bonds: .311/.456/.624, 147 H, 34 HR, 103 RBI, 39 SB
(2012) Andrew McCutchen: .345/.410/.568, 164 H, 24 HR, 79 RBI, 15 SB
Comparatively, McCutchen's season is statistically one of the best in Pirates history, and he still has a little over a month left to play.
It was clearly not a great offensive year in 1960 when Dick Groat won the MVP award, and his performance certainly wouldn't be worthy of consideration in today's game.
As much as we all love Willie "Pops" Stargell, he wasn't really deserving of being named co-MVP in 1979 and was probably the beneficiary of some favorable voting.
Paul Waner had a phenomenal year in 1927 in leading the Pirates to the NL Pennant with a .380 average. However, there were four other Hall of Famers in the lineup with Waner, including his younger brother Lloyd.
All things considered, McCutchen's 2012 season is most comparable to the MVP years of Clemente, Parker and Bonds.
Roberto Clemente is arguably the greatest Pirate of all time, and not enough can be said about his talent on the field and his role model behavior off it.
However, the 1966 Pirates finished in third place in the National League, and Clemente didn't even lead the team in very many offensive categories.
The MVP years of Groat, Stargell, Waner and Clemente were all outstanding efforts, but statistically McCutchen's 2012 is superior.
However, he would need to have an earth-shattering month of September to reach the numbers that Dave Parker and Barry Bonds put up in their MVP seasons.
Yet where Andrew McCutchen's season ranks in Pirates history will have have less to do with the stats he puts up than how the team plays during this final stretch.
McCutchen has already done enough with the bat to warrant an MVP award and his place in Pirates history. With two National League Player of the Month awards, McCutchen has already placed himself among the game's elite.
However, if the Pirates were able to sneak into one of the Wild Card spots and go on an unprecedented run in the playoffs, McCutchen would place himself at the peak of Pittsburgh legend.
In 1978, the Pirates didn't even make the playoffs, despite Parker's best efforts. In 1990 and 1992, Bonds led Pittsburgh to the playoffs, only to see the team fall in the NLCS.
Those teams were built around a nucleus of stars that had been shining for a few years prior to Bonds' MVP awards.
The 2012 Pittsburgh Pirates have just one star in their dugout, but he is shining brighter than any that has ever graced diamonds of the Steel City.
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