All-Star CF: Vote McCutchen

            Fox’s game-of-the-week crew foreshadowed my left field vote during Saturday’s Giants-Cubs game. But we’ll get to that later in the week.

            What was most intriguing about Thom Brennaman and Eric Karros’ analysis of the current NL All-Star outfield voting is they endorsed four corner outfielders – Carlos Beltran, Ryan Braun, Melky Carera, and Andre Ethier.

            In Karros’ defense, he did reference the need for a true center fielder. But at the end of the day, the mainstream a-team mentioned nary a one. And, there is one that stands head-and-shoulders above the rest that could use the publicity – Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen.

            McCutchen has emerged as the premier five-tool player in the National League. He’s had flashes of brilliance in three previous major league seasons, and flexed his power in 2011 in his first as an All-Star with a 24-home run showing. This season, though, he has put is all together as the quintessential three-hitter, swinging it for power and average.

            While the baseball world is rightfully raving about Cabrera’s showing in May with 51 hits, McCutchen’s month deserves some recognition as well. The Pirates’ franchise player hit at a .360 clip (31 for 99) on the month, and has helped the Pirates to enter play Sunday with a 26-26 record, just four games back of Cincinnati in the NL Central.

            A 26-26 record might not seem like much to cheer about, but it is for Pittsburgh fans. Keep in mind, the Pirates are suffering one of the longest losing traditions in the history of sports, having not finished over .500 in a season since 1992. That’s the Barry Bonds era of Pittsburgh baseball, folks.

            McCutchen’s peripheries are also impressive across the board. In addition to ranking fifth in the NL with a .336 average, he’s getting on base at a .396 clip, slugging .553, and is stealing bases at as good a rate as he ever did as a leadoff hitter. And while there have been some naysayers regarding his defense this year, McCutchen’s exhilarating center-field range is always a Web Gem or two away from quieting those criticisms.

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