We need one [Jacoby] Ellsbury-style breakout to round out the list, and McCutchen's it. In his third big league season, Cutch set career highs in a few categories, including homers (23), walks (89), and Wins Above Replacement (5.7). But he's fared better in other areas in previous years: a solid 84.6 percent contact rate and 33 steals in 2010, a career-best .327 BABIP in 2009 ... Entering his age-25 season, you get the sense he's going to consolidate all of his skills soon and become an MVP-caliber player ... even if the rest of his team still lags behind.â†µ
It's hard to argue with any of that. McCutchen looked like he was going to become a potential MVP candidate even last season, when his well-rounded offensive game and improving defense made him one of baseball's best players in the first half. Unfortunately, he got homer-happy in the second half, and his batting average for the year plummeted to .259. He can do better, and at 25, he's a great age to take another step forward. However bleak the Pirates' short-term outlook might currently be, at least they've got McCutchen.â†µ
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