In the Pittsburgh Pirates record 17th consecutive losing season, to the average fan it looks like there is nothing that can salvage their season. With GM Neil Huntington trading away six of the nine opening day starters, most fans are unfamiliar with the players on the field now but the one thing all Pirates fans can enjoy is up and coming center fielder Andrew McCutchen.
Only 22 years of age, McCutchen has been the Pirates best player since he was called up on June 3, replacing the 2008 All-Star Nate McClouth, who was dealt to Atlanta. Batting .296 with 7 HR’s and 32 RBI’s, the five tool outfielder looks to be a lock for Rookie of the Year. When the Pirates management called up the 5’11” 175 lb McCutchen, they expected him to be good but not great this early on in his career.
For the native of Fort Myers, Florida, Andrew McCutchen realizes what he has done for the city of Pittsburgh just in his two months on the team. Upset by the trades Huntington has made and the performance on the field, the fans needed something good to talk about. When #22 hit the field, there was already a buzz going around PNC Park that had been missed with the departure of Barry Bonds in 1992. In his first game, McCutchen went 3-4, with a double and two singles, remarkable for a debut.
Only in 54 games, McCutchen has five triples, good enough for first in the league along with former Pirate Nyjer Morgan who was traded earlier this season also to the Washington Nationals. It’s a game against the Nationals that will live on for McCutchen’s career. On August 1st, the last place Pirates squared off against the last place Nationals. For the fans at the game, all they expected was bad baseball with two teams that deserved to be playing AAA ball. The rookie stepped up and had the stadium rocking. On that night, Andrew belted three home runs and drove in six RBI’s in an 11-6 win for the Bucos. McCutchen became the 10th Pirate to hit three bombs in one game and the first to do so in their rookie year. Even when the Pirates are down a few runs and have positioned themselves far behind the Cubs for first place, when McCutchen steps in, the fans around the stadium give off a playoff like buzz because when Huntington talks of a “youth movement,” it starts with Andrew and for most Pirate fans, that’s a great start for a team that seems to not know how to finish.