As we flipped the calendar to June, there are a couple things that should be chalked up as certainties in the city of Pittsburgh.
First of all, we will see some scorching temperatures as the summer months promise to bring blistering hot weather. Speaking of blistering hot, that brings me to the other certainty: Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen will heat up in a big way.
With the Bucs sitting 13 games over .500 after their dramatic win over the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday, the most amazing part of their success has been the fact that they have been successful without McCutchen putting up big numbers.
That’s not to say that “Cutch” has been bad. Certainly you can live with a .284 batting average, seven homers and 28 RBIs after the season’s first two months, but McCutchen is capable of so much more.
That’s where the month of June comes into the conversation.
So far in his young career, McCutchen has owned the month of June and it wouldn’t come as much of a surprise to see him do so again.
Looking back at the last three seasons, “Cutch” has a June batting average of .333, his highest of any month during the season. His .956 June OPS (on-base plus slugging) is also a high for any month during the season.
To continue their impressive play, the Pirates would welcome those types of numbers once again.
In terms of power, June hasn’t been McCutchen’s best month, as he’s clubbed only 10 homers in June over the course of the past three seasons. But he has also driven in 50 runs over the course of that span, which represents a monthly high.
To stay in contention in the National League Central, the Pirates need McCutchen to come up with some big hits and to get hot for an extended period of time. Pittsburgh is 2 1/2 games behind first-place St. Louis entering Monday’s game at Atlanta.
Maybe all McCutchen needed was for the calendar to change to June.
If he takes off and does anything similar to what his career splits suggest he is capable of, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him throw his name back into the MVP chase like he did a season ago.
If that’s the case, expect the Pirates to continue their outstanding play. Eventually their best player is going to have to carry the offense.
There’s no better time for Cutch to start doing that than the month of June.