Top Five: Longest Bucco Blasts of 2012

The Pirates clubbed 170 home runs as a team last season, which was the fourth-highest total in the National League. Their 170 bombs was a big increase from a total of 107 in 2011, when they finished 27th out of 30 MLB teams in the HR department. Here’s a look at the five longest Bucco homers of the 2012 season, via ESPN Home Run Tracker:

5. Andrew McCutchen - July 17th, 2012
Opposing Pitcher: Christian Friedrich
Stadium: Coors Field
Video
True Distance: 448 feet

4. Pedro Alvarez – September 16th, 2012
Opposing Pitcher: Jeff Beliveau
Stadium: Wrigley Field
Video
True Distance: 449 feet

3. Garrett Jones – June 2nd, 2012
Opposing Pitcher: Shaun Marcum
Stadium: Miller Park
Video
True Distance: 451 feet

2. Garrett Jones – July 29th, 2012
Opposing Pitcher: Lucas Harrell
Stadium: Minute Maid Park
Video
True Distance: 455 feet

1. Pedro Alvarez – August 28th, 2012
Opposing Pitcher: Brandon Dickson
Stadium: PNC Park
Video
True Distance: 456 feet

Go Bucs

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Cutch nominated for Gold Glove

Andrew McCutchen was nominated for the Gold Glove Award among National League center fielders. The other two NL CF finalists are Atlanta’s Michael Bourn and Cincinnati’s Drew Stubbs.

To be honest, McCutchen isn’t exactly a stellar outfielder. Although he makes some spectacular grabs from time to time, he definitely exhibits some weaknesses. His arm is particularly weak, and significantly downgrades his defensive abilities.

The idea that a player must be a star offensively to win a Gold Glove is often tossed around, even though this is a defensive award. Cutch certainly fits the description, as he excelled at the plate with a .327 avg, 31 HR, and .953 OPS. The last Pirate to win, Nate McLouth in 2008, also had an excellent season at the plate that year. However, Drew Stubbs is an exception; his offense is abysmal (.213 avg, 166 K’s), but he displays terrific defense.

Anyway, the other finalists around the league are as follows:

American League

Pitcher: Jeremy Hellickson, Jake Peavy, C.J. Wilson

Catcher: Alex Avila, Russell Martin, A.J. Pierzynski, Matt Wieters

First base: Adrian Gonzalez, Eric Hosmer, Mark Teixeira

Second base: Dustin Ackley, Robinson Cano, Dustin Pedroia

Shortstop: Elvis Andrus, J.J. Hardy, Brendan Ryan

Third base: Adrian Beltre, Brandon Inge, Mike Moustakas

Left field: Alex Gordon, Desmond Jennings, David Murphy

Center field: Austin Jackson, Adam Jones, Mike Trout

Right field: Shin-Soo Choo, Jeff Francoeur, Josh Reddick

National League

Pitcher: Bronson Arroyo, Mark Buehrle, Clayton Kershaw

Catcher: Yadier Molina, Miguel Montero, Carlos Ruiz

First base: Freddie Freeman, Adam LaRoche, Joey Votto

Second base: Darwin Barney, Aaron Hill, Brandon Phillips

Shortstop: Zack Cozart, Ian Desmond, Jose Reyes, Jimmy Rollins

Third base: Chase Headley, Aramis Ramirez, David Wright

Left field: Ryan Braun, Carlos Gonzalez, Martin Prado

Center field: Bourn, McCutchen, Stubbs

Right field: Jay Bruce, Andre Ethier, Jason Heyward

Winners will be revealed Tuesday night at 9:30 pm on ESPN2 during a special 2012 Rawlings Gold Glove Award Announcement Show.

Go Cutch

Season in Pictures: July 2012


July 3rd, 2012
Drew Sutton is pied in the face by A.J. Burnett after his walk-off home run lifted the Bucs over the Astros, 8-7.


July 9th, 2012
Andrew McCutchen connects on one of his two home runs; he went 3 for 5 with four RBI and three runs scored. Cutch and the Pirates finished the first half with a bang, as they crushed the Giants by a score of 13-2.


July 9th, 2012
Andrew McCutchen participates in the 2012 State Farm Home Run Derby in Kansas City.


July 16th, 2012
Pedro Alvarez is congratulated by his teammates after he tied the game with a three-run home run. The bomb came on the first pitch after a 58 minute rain delay. However, the Rockies beat the Pirates, 5-4, on a sacrifice fly by Dexter Fowler.


July 26th, 2012
Starling Marte rounds the bases after hitting a home run on the very first pitch of his Major League career.


July 31st, 2012
A.J. Burnett and Rod Barajas embrace after Burnett’s one-hit, complete game shutout of the Chicago Cubs. A.J. lost his no-hit bid to Adrian Cardenas with two outs in the bottom of the eighth. The Bucs beat the Cubs, 5-0.

McCutchen ranked among top batting leaders

Despite hitting just .240 in his last 50 games of the season, Andrew McCutchen still ranked near the top of all MLB batting categories. Here’s a look:

- 2nd in Offensive WAR (7.5)
- 3rd in batting average (.327)
- 5th in on-base percentage (.400)
- 8th in slugging percentage (.553)
- 7th in OPS (.953)
- 4th in runs scored (107)
- 4th in hits (194)
- 5th in total bases (328)
- 10th in singles (128)
- 4th in adjusted OPS+ (134)
- 4th in runs created (132)
- 3rd-most times on base (269)
- 6th-highest Power-Speed Number (24.3)

Cutch impressively ranked second in offensive wins above replacement, which put him between Mike Trout (8.6) and Miguel Cabrera (7.4). He beat out Cabrera, the American League Triple Crown winner, by 0.1. Trout and Cabrera will be an interesting race for AL MVP. McCutchen is mixed in with some of the National League’s top talent, including Buster Posey, Ryan Braun, Joey Votto, and Yadier Molina.

Keep in mind that Cutch performed at this level while earning just $500,000, which has to be the best value in MLB. His new contract kicks in next season; he’ll make $4.5 million in 2013, which is still quite a bargain.

McDonald Deserves to be an All-Star

It’s no secret: James McDonald has been flat-out dominant this season for the Pirates. He pitched another great game on Thursday night vs. Minnesota, giving up just one run on six hits while going the distance. It was the first complete game of his career and he struck out five while walking none. J-Mac lowered his ERA to 2.19 and now has six wins on the season.

McDonald could easily have at least eight wins; the Bucs went on to win three of his five no-decisions and lost some winnable games. He lost on May 11th while surrendering just one run in eight innings, but the Bucs couldn’t solve Bud Norris and lost 1-0. He pitched well in Cleveland on Friday, giving up just one run on three hits, but the Pirates were shutout by Justin Masterson and the Tribe.

Only the All-Star Game starting position players are determined by fan voting, so it’s up to National League manager Tony LaRussa to decide if he wants J-Mac as part of his pitching staff. LaRussa, who led the Cardinals to the World Series title last year, is coming out of his retirement to manage the ASG; he’ll also have Terry Collins of the Mets and Ron Roenicke of the Brewers as part of his coaching staff. Although McDonald is still relatively unknown, he’s certainly deserving of a roster spot. Here’s how he ranks among National League starting pitchers:

- He’s a little lower in the wins column, but could certainly be in the top ten (tied for third or fourth) if the Pirates could have picked him up in those winnable games. R.A. Dickey leads with 11, Lance Lynn and Cole Hamels have 10, Stephen Strasburg and Matt Cain have nine, five pitchers are tied with eight, three are tied with seven (including A.J. Burnett), and J-Mac now has six.

- He’s ranked fourth in ERA at 2.19. Only R.A. Dickey (2.00), Brandon Beachy (2.00), and Ryan Dempster (2.11) have lower earned run averages. Beachy just underwent Tommy John surgery and Dempster has one less start than McDonald.

- He’s given up the fourth-lowest amount of home runs, as he’s surrendered just four long balls in 90.1 innings. Only Gio Gonzalez (1), Wade Miley (2), and Zach Greinke (3) have given up less homers, but they have all pitched less innings than J-Mac.

- He’s given up the sixth-lowest amount of hits, as he’s surrendered 62. He was in third place until he gave up six hits to the Twins. Still, he’s pitched in one more start than the first five pitchers.

- He has the fourth-lowest opponent batting average at .195. Gonzalez, Beachy, and Dickey are all in front of him.

- He has the second-lowest opponent batting average against the curveball at .102. Only Gonzalez is ahead of him at .079; Matt Cain is behind him at .111.

- He has the third-lowest WHIP at 0.95. Dickey (0.89) and Cain (0.91) are ahead of him.

The list goes on and on, and there are a myriad of stats that prove the J-Mac is one of the best National League starters this season. The guys that have been in the same area as J-Mac have been REALLY good:
- R.A. Dickey (11-1, 2.00 ERA); he’s thrown two consecutive one-hitters.
- Matt Cain (9-2, 2.34 ERA); he threw a perfect game last week and almost had a perfect game against the Bucs in April- the only hit he surrendered was to the one and only James McDonald.
- Brandon Beachy (5-5, 2.00 ERA); he’s out for the season, however.
- Gio Gonzalez (9-3, 2.55 ERA); he’s been dominant for the Nats all season.

McDonald seems like an obvious choice to go to the ASG, but you never know. It’s a meaningless roster spot but it’d be great for J-Mac to get the national attention that he deserves. Hopefully he’ll be heading to Kansas City in a few weeks.