5 Reasons the Pirates Will be a Better Team in 2016: Part 3

DSC_0773By Matthew Kruth, The Burgh Blog Writer, @theburghblog_mk

The Pittsburgh Pirates finished with 98 wins last season. It’s hard to improve a 98-win team, but here are 5 reasons the 2016 Pirates will be better than last year. Part 1 Part 2 Part 4 Part 5

3. Andrew McCutchen has an Improved April

PITTSBURGH – Take a moment and think back to the beginning of the 2015 campaign. Do you recall the questions surrounding Andrew McCutchen? Do you remember the concern around his knee and the potential that he wasn’t healthy to begin the year? Maybe you do, or maybe you do not. A successful overall season tends to make people forget the blemishes, especially if they occur in the beginning of the year.

Let’s take a look at Andrew McCutchen’s numbers last year in the month of May. The 5-tool center fielder looked awful to kick off the 2015 season. He slashed .194/.302/.636, and that line was good for a wRC+ of just 81 (league average is 100). He hit only 2 home runs and was visibly having trouble at the plate.

Now, whether McCutchen was dealing with a lingering injury or just unlucky as exhibited by a .211 BAPIP in the first month of the season (.336 career BABIP), he was effectively below average for a sixth of the season. The Pirates went 12-10 in the first portion of the 2015 season. Of course this is just speculation, but if McCutchen had played like his normal self over that period of time, it’s not hard to think that the team could have added a win or two in the month of April.

We do not know how Andrew McCutchen will play over the first month of the season, but if his career numbers are indicative to what we may expect, he is likely to be much better than he was in 2015. McCutchen has a career slash line of .259/.346/763 in the months of March and April, so he does normally start of a little slowly and heats up as the season gets under way. It is unlikely however that he will be as ice cold this season in the early part of this year as he was in 2015.


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