For the past two years it has been the common opinion that Pittsburgh Pirates’ superstar Andrew McCutchen should use his legs more when it comes to stealing bases.
Given his outstanding wheels, McCutchen’s stolen base totals have been a little lighter than one would expect. After stealing 33 bags in 2010, those numbers have gone down to 23 in 2011 and only 20 in 2012.
As much as the Bucs have struggled offensively coming out of the gate in 2013, the lone bright spot has been Cutch’s aggressiveness while on base, swiping four bags in five attempts already.
However while one may tend to look at the number of bases McCutchen has swiped already, it’s more important to focus on his success rate.
Certainly an 80 percent rate is outstanding, but looking closer, Cutch is pretty lucky to have swiped those four bases.
In his five steal attempts, McCutchen has not gotten good jumps off the pitcher. He was thrown out easily Friday night against the Dodgers and a good throw would have easily gotten him twice against the Cubs. Had that been the case, McCutchen wouldn’t have been standing on second base with the opportunity to steal third.
So based on that, McCutchen has gotten a good jump off the opposing pitcher only one time in his five attempts.
With the way the Pirates are swinging the bats right now, it’s understandable that Cutch wants to make things happen with his legs, but on the other hand when he runs, he has to be sure that he is going to make it. If any team can’t afford to run into outs on the base paths right now it is the Bucs.
The good news though is that McCutchen has stolen four bases and you can count on his legs putting pressure on opposing catchers and forcing bad throws, but it would be nice to see him get better jumps.
Not all fast guys are great base stealers and throughout his career so far, McCutchen has been a little above average.
He was successful only 62.5 percent of the time a season ago, which is actually unacceptable for a guy with the wheels Cutch has. In 2011, McCutchen had only a 69.6 success rate, compared to 76.7 in 2010.
All of that points to the fact that Cutch isn’t a great base stealer and early on it appears that he is out to change that fact.
But he has to get that success rate up this season.
When the Pirates bats do come around, they can more afford the times that he gets thrown out. But until then, he must pick his spots better.
Every time he gets thrown out is almost crippling for a team that is struggling to hit the ball.