Rookies can be enigmatic. It’s part of the process of assimilating into the big leagues. Andrew McCutchen was a great example of this in 2009. After the Pirates traded All-Star centerfielder Nate McLouth to the Braves in early June, McCutchen was called up to play centerfield and had an interesting debut season. The phenom finished the season with a .286 BA, 12 HR and a .365 OBP - very respectable numbers for a rookie and enough for him to finish 4th in the NL Rookie of the Year voting.
If 2009 was any indication, the opposition might want to pitch around McCutchen come August. On the 1st of the month, the Pirate hit 3 HR against the Washington Nationals becoming just the 5th different Pirate to accomplish the feat since 1970 (Aramis Ramirez, Darnell Coles, Bill Robinson and Willie Stargell are the others). McCutchen also drove in 6 runs in the game making him just the 4th player in MLB history to hit 3 HR and drive in 6 from the leadoff spot.
McCutchen in 2009
That was just the beginning to a very productive August for McCutchen. In a month with no federal holidays, McCutchen was all business. He hit twice as many homers in August as he did in the rest of the season combined.
Once August ended McCutchen went into a slump, batting just .154 and slugging .192 in his next 13 games. Just as many writers were ready to write off his season as having hit the dreaded “rookie wall”, McCutchen flipped the switch and finished on a tear, with a .463 OBP from September 16th on.
Highest OBP After September 16
2009 Season, Min. 75 PA
So with more big league at-bats coming in 2010, the Steel City faithful hope Andrew McCutchen can maintain his spurts of greatness over longer stretches. For a team that hasn’t been to the postseason since 1992 and hasn’t finished in the top half of the NL Central since 1999, McCutchen is one of few bright spots for the Pirates – that makes the 23-year-old One2Watch4.