Andrew McCutchen: Is the Pittsburgh Pirates Outfielder the Real Deal?

Diamond NotesCorrespondent IIIDecember 21, 2011

Andrew McCutchen, the real deal?
Andrew McCutchen, the real deal?Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

In 2009 Pittsburgh Pirates rookie center fielder Andrew McCutchen made a big splash and won the hearts of Pirates fans.

He posted great numbers while playing for one of the worst teams in the league, batting .286 with 12 home runs, 54 RBI and 22 stolen bases in 108 games. In addition, he played terrific in the field, committing only two errors, recording 10 assists and finishing the season with a .993 fielding percentage.

He followed 2009 with similar offensive numbers in 2010, batting .286 with 16 home runs, 56 RBI and 33 stolen bases in 154 games. Defensively he slipped a little, as he committed five errors, recorded eight assists and finished with a .987 fielding percentage.

Last season McCutchen appeared to hit a wall after making his first All-Star Game appearance, as he hit just .216 after the break with nine home runs and 35 RBI.

Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote in his article "Goal for Pirates' McCutchen Is To Excel In Full Season" that McCutchen believes he was trying to do to much.

"I think it just came to more of just trying to do a little too much," McCutchen said. "Not staying within myself, playing my game and letting things happen naturally."

McCutchen finished 2011 with a .259 batting average, 23 home runs, 89 RBI and 23 stolen bases in 33 attempts. It appears he took some of his struggle to the field where he committed seven errors while posting a .984 fielding percentage, the worst of his three-year career.

If you look strictly at the numbers, McCutchen is declining in nearly every category, leaving the question, "Is he the real deal?"

I believe he is. If you watch him you'll see that he is a true five-tool player, just a little bit raw. He already has reached the 20-20 status and I believe he has the potential to annually be a 30-30 man and to soon lead the Pirates to be real perennial contenders.