MLB Preview 2011: Looking at Andrew McCutchen and the Pirates on Paper

Adrian FedkiwAnalyst IIIMarch 22, 2011

MLB Preview 2011: Looking at Andrew McCutchen and the Pirates on Paper

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    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    The Pirates are in the midst of 18 consecutive losing seasons, and that number will most likely hit 19 after this season. 

    They scored the fewest runs in the NL last season, and also gave up the most.  That equaled to a minus-279 run differential.

    There are glimmers of hope, and it starts with Andrew McCutchen, the best center fielder in baseball.  They also have some other young studs in Pedro Alvarez, Jose Tabata and Neil Walker.  

     

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Infield

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images
    • C-  Chris Snyder- 7 
    • 1B- Lyle Overbay- 7 
    • 2B- Neil Walker- 7.25 
    • SS-  Ronny Cedeno- 7 
    • 3B- Pedro Alvarez- 7

     

    Chris Snyder (30) 319 AB .207 BA 34 R 15 HR 48 RBI 0 SB

    The Pirates acquired Snyder before the trade deadline from Arizona.  He’s solid defensively, but he’s not going to hit for average.  

     

    Lyle Overbay (34) 534 AB .243 BA 75 R 20 HR 67 RBI 1 SB

    Overbay’s always been a consistent performer, but he’s seen a dip in his average over recent years.  He’s a very selective hitter, and solid defensively although he’s lost range.

     

    Neil Walker (25) 426 AB .296 BA 57 R 12 HR 66 RBI 2 SB

    Walker is a switch-hitter who has a nice stroke from both sides and uses the whole field.  The converted catcher is still trying to improve defensively.  The 2004 first round pick also played third, but Alvarez passed him on the depth chart.  He’s a second-baseman to look at for years to come.

     

    Ronny Cedeno (28) 468 AB .256 BA 42 R 8 HR 38 RBI 12 SB

    Cedeno is known for his athletic prowess defensively, not so much his bat.  In the field, he has great range to go along with a strong arm.  He’s fast, but he needs to get on base.

     

    Pedro Alvarez (24) 347 AB .256 BA 42 R 16 HR 64 RBI 0 SB

    Alvarez has pop, and will eventually become a consistent 30 plus homerun guy.  At this point in his career though, he’s still not making consistent contact.

Outfield

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    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
    • LF- Jose Tabata- 7 
    • CF- Andrew McCutchen- 8.25 
    • RF- Garrett Jones- 7

     

    Jose Tabata (22) 405 AB .299 BA 61 R 4 HR 35 RBI 19 SB

    Tabata has a quick stroke, and gets on base.  On the basepaths, he can fly.  He also utilizes his speed effectively in the field.

     

    Andrew McCutchen (24) 570 AB .286 BA 84 R 16 HR 56 RBI 33 SB

    McCutchen is the fastest rising player in baseball; he’s the epitome of a five-tool player.  He’s got some nice pop in his bat considering his size.  His natural athleticism makes him a huge threat on the basepaths.  In the field, he plays shallow and lets his speed do the rest.

     

    Garrett Jones (29) 592 AB .247 BA 64 R 21 HR 86 RBI 7 SB

    Jones' long uppercut swing got exploited by Major League pitching a year ago.  He struggles against lefties.  If he can’t get his bat going, he’ll be replaced because he’s not great in the field.

Starting Pitching

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
    • 1. Paul Maholm- 7
    • 2. Ross Ohlendorf- 7
    • 3. Kevin Correia- 7
    • 4. James McDonald- 7
    • 5. Charlie Morton- 7

     

    Paul Maholm (28) 195 IP 9-15 5.10 ERA 1.56 WHIP 102 K

    People keep waiting for Maholm to break out, but his numbers have gotten worse each year.  He doesn’t throw hard, but he hides the ball effectively.  His curveball is ok, but needs to improve his slider and changeup.

     

    Ross Ohlendorf (28) 108 IP1-11 4.07 ERA 1.39 WHIP 79 K

    Ohlendorf pitched better than what his record indicates.  He struggled with shoulder issues last year.  He has a long wind-up, and deceives the hitter by turning his back to the plate.  He features a good running fastball to go along with a sweeping slurve.

     

    Kevin Correia (30) 145 IP 10-10 5.40 ERA 1.49 WHIP 115 K

    The Pirates signed Correia in the offseason after two years in San Diego.  Correia pitched well in 2009, but struggled last year. 

     

    James McDonald (26) 71 IP 4-6 4.02 ERA 1.38 WHIP 68 K

    In my opinion, McDonald should be the ace of the staff.  After coming over from the Dodgers via trade, he posted a 3.52 ERA.  He’s tall, lanky and flings his fastball.  He also features a tightly spun curveball.  He’s still working on his slider and changeup. 

     

    Charlie Morton (27) 79 IP 2-12 7.57 ERA 1.73 WHIP 59 K

    Scott Olsen will most likely be in the rotation once he recovers from his hamstring injury.  As for Morton, he had the third largest ERA (Min 17 starts) since World War II.

Bullpen

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    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
    • RP- Chris Leroux- 7
    • RP- Daniel McCutchen- 7
    • RP- Chris Resop- 7
    • SU- Evan Meek- 7
    • CP- Joel Hanrahan- 7.25

     

    Chris Resop, Daniel McCutchen, Chris Leroux

    The Buckos like to search the waiver wire for some power arms in the pen; that’s how they acquired Resop and Leroux.

     

    Evan Meek (27) 80 IP 5-4 4 SV 2.14 ERA 1.05 WHIP 70 K

    Meek throws a hard mid-90’s fastball to go along with a slider-like cutter.  The 2010 All-Star is still trying to improve his delivery as he tends to leave his pitches up in the zone. 

     

    Joel Hanrahan (29) 69 IP 4-1 6 SV 3.62 ERA 1.21 WHIP 100 K

    Hanrahan and Meek shared closer duties after the Octavio Dotel trade.  I expect Hanrahan to start the season closing because he has more experience doing it.  He possesses a high strikeout rate due to a hard fastball and slider.

Sizing Up the Pirates on Paper

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    J. Meric/Getty Images
    • C-  Chris Snyder- 7
    • 1B- Lyle Overbay- 7
    • 2B- Neil Walker- 7.25
    • SS-  Ronny Cedeno- 7
    • 3B- Pedro Alvarez- 7
    • LF- Jose Tabata- 7 
    • CF- Andrew McCutchen- 8.25 
    • RF- Garrett Jones- 7

     

    Projected Lineup

    1. Jose Tabata- 7
    2. Neil Walker- 7.25
    3. Andrew McCutchen- 8.25
    4. Pedro Alvarez- 7
    5. Lyle Overbay- 7
    6. Garrett Jones- 7
    7. Chris Snyder- 7
    8. Ronny Cedeno- 7 

    Projected Starting Rotation

    • 1. Paul Maholm- 7
    • 2. Ross Ohlendorf- 7
    • 3. Kevin Correia- 7
    • 4. James McDonald- 7
    • 5. Charlie Morton- 7

     

    Projected Bullpen

    • RP- Chris Leroux- 7
    • RP- Daniel McCutchen- 7
    • RP- Chris Resop- 7
    • SU- Evan Meek- 7
    • CP- Joel Hanrahan- 7.25

     

    Bench- Matt Diaz, Ryan Doumit, Josh Rodriguez, Steve Pearce- 7

    Manager- Clint Hurdle- 7

     

    INF- 35.25

    OF- 22.25

    SP- 35

    RP- 7

    CP- 14.25

    MISC- 14

    Hitting- 57.5

    Pitching- 56.25

    TOTAL- 127.75 64-98

Prediction

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    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    The development of youngsters like Neil Walker, Pedro Alvarez, Jose Tabata and the starting pitching staff are more important than the record Pittsburgh is going to post.  I think we can all agree that the Buckos are in for another long season.

    Prediction64-98 Sixth NL Central