Andrew McCutchen Proving to Be Much More Than a Legacy Signing

Getty Images

Remember to follow us on Twitter and Facebook for continued Pittsburgh Sports coverage: 

Everyone is going to be writing about Oneil Cruz today.  I don't particularly want to.  It's a particularly sad situation given what Cruz means to this franchise and after the Pirates have started out so hot.  If you want to hear my recap of it, you can find it on our Instagram @GoldLotSports or in our tweet below:

So instead, I want to focus on a more positive note from this weekend's series.  Since Andrew McCutchen was traded before the 2018 season, a lot of us have dreamed of a scenario where he was brought back to retire as a Pittsburgh Pirate.  For an entire generation of Pirate fans, McCutchen is the face of the franchise.  And somehow, we got our wish.

When Cutch was brought back on a one-year contract this offseason, it fulfilled our dream scenario.  We knew we would get the huge standing ovation for the Home Opener, it would be a historic moment in Pirates' history, and everything would feel right with the franchise again.  Cutch would be home and could retire a Pirate.  Sure enough, the Home Opener on Friday was everything we ever dreamed of and more.  The Pirates handled the pre-game festivities about as perfect as they could and PNC Park was buzzing.

At first, the signing felt similar to the St. Louis Cardinals bringing back Albert Pujols as a symbolic gesture so he could retire as a Cardinal.  It appeared that we were looking to honor McCutchen's Pirate legacy by signing him to a one-year deal, and it almost appeared symbolic in nature, more than an actual free-agent signing to improve the team.  However, Cutch has proven otherwise.

So far Cutch has been one of the most productive hitters on the team.  He no longer has the power to put up big homerun numbers, despite his one on Saturday, but he is getting on base at an impressive rate.  In his 33 plate appearances so far, Cutch has nine hits and seven walks.  That's good for a slash line of .375/.515/.583, amounting to a very impressive 1.098 OPS.

It's still early, but Cutch typically starts seasons very slow.  So it's nice to see him already locked in this season.  Also, with the new rules, getting on-base is the name of the game.  Runs and stolen bases are way up this season, and it appears a lot easier to hit runners in than it has been in previous seasons.  If Cutch can just continue to get on base, it should lead to runs for the Pirates and help to continue their hot start. 

This has been just so great to see.  Cutch returning was obviously a huge deal to the fan base, but I'm not sure many felt he would be one of the most productive batters in the lineup given he's playing in his 15th season, and is now 36 years old.  And it's because Cutch is producing that he's one of the most productive, and not because the rest of the offense is struggling.  The Pirates have scored the 18th most runs in the league so far with one less game than some teams.  Certainly not bottom of the barrel. 

Aside from Cutch DH'ing more instead of prowling centerfield of PNC Park, he looks like the same old Cutch.  He should remain in the meat of the Pirates order and he is proving himself to be much more than a legacy signing for the Pirates.  I look forward to watching more of Cutch this baseball season, including tonight when I'll be in attendance at PNC Park where the Pirates will take on the Houston Astros at 6:35 PM.