July 11, 2012 by Matt Musico
No, that is not a typo. Heading into the second half, the Pirates will be taking on the Brewers at Miller Park on Friday. Clint Hurdle’s club is currently standing at 48-37, one game ahead of the the second-place Cincinnati Reds, and this is the first time since 1997 that Pittsburgh is in first place during the MLB All-Star game. How have the Pirates been able to succeed after such a dreadful start in April? Their team offense has improved, but it is their pitching that has been strong throughout 2012 and has carried them to their current record.
The Pirates pitching staff is ranked fifth in Major League baseball with a 3.47 team ERA, and their 1.25 WHIP is eighth in the league. Even though their team batting average of .246 is ninth-worst in the MLB, there has been one player that has carried the team throughout the season, helping them whether the bad months and making the good months that much sweeter, and that’s Andrew McCutchen.
After getting a five-year/$25 million extension before the 2012 season, the Pirates’ center fielder has shown his worth to the fans and the organization. He currently leads the team in batting average (.362), on-base % (.414), slugging % (.625), hits (112), home runs (18), and RBI (60). A year removed from hitting .259 with 23 home runs and 89 RBI, McCutchen is on pace to have a career year, and if the Bucs continue succeeding, he’s a viable MVP candidate. Pirates fans are starting to believe that this could be the year Pittsburgh ends their drought of futility, which has seen the organization not finish a season with a record over .500 since 1992.