Wednesday night, the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Colorado Rockies 13-7 to clinch a trip to the postseason.The interesting part is that they’ve won with their superstar’s, Andrew McCutchen, bat essentially nullified by the walk. Most impressively, the Buccos have found a way to win every one of the last five nights without Cutch as a major factor. Last night, Neil Walker was the big bat and hero. The night before, Aramis Ramirez was the stud with an RBI triple – certainly a rarity for a guy in the twilight of his career.
The night before that, Starling Marte and Ramirez homered early on to put the Pirates up.
I could go on with examples of how the Pirates have won during this 5-game winning streak without McCutchen as a leading figure, but that’s not the point. During the streak that culminated in a playoff berth-clinching victory last night, McCutchen had been walked 13 times in that span. Two times, he was walked intentionally. He has only scored two runs in that span, but he’s been on base at an insane clip – .520 OBP during the streak – so he’s done his job. So, why have opposing pitchers been walking Cutch so often (intentional or not)?
It might have to do with the fact that McCutchen is hitting .383 with runners in scoring position on the season. Even better, he’s hitting .391 with runners in scoring position with two outs. It appears, regardless of the situation, that opposing pitchers don’t want to face McCutchen, runners on or not. This might be one little nugget to support his case as the possible NL MVP.