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Perrotto: Hold off on Andrew McCutchen’s Retirement Ceremony



Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates

The whispers can stop, at least for a while.

Andrew McCutchen is not over the hill. He is not a liability. The Pittsburgh Pirates should not release him.

Those were some of the ideas floating around social media last week. A certain segment of fans felt the Pirates should cut ties with the 37-year-old designated hitter just a year after hailing him as the prodigal son for returning to the franchise in free agency five years after being traded.

The truth, of course, is that McCutchen is not the same player who won the National League Most Valuable Player award in 2013. He will be the first to tell you that. McCutchen is 11 years older, and Father Time rarely waits for anyone in professional sports.

Yet that doesn’t mean McCutchen still can’t help the Pirates in at least a complementary role.

McCutchen entered Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Phillies with a .161/.316/.226 slash line. He was 5 for 31 with just two doubles and 15 strikeouts.

McCutchen also hit .233/.269/.241 in 38 games after the All-Star break last season with just two home runs.

He was struggling, for sure, to start this season. However, he had also played in eight games.

Did McCutchen deserve some boos? Well, everyone gets booed at some point when they aren’t producing. That comes with the job.

Did McCutchen deserve to be written off? No.

He proved he still has something left on Sunday in leading the Pirates to a 9-2 win in Philadelphia that pushed their record to a surprising 11-5.

McCutchen went 2 for 5 with a home run, three runs scored, two RBI and a stolen base. It was even more impressive considering the Phillies started ace right-hander Zack Wheeler.

The home run capped the rout but was significant because it was the 300th of McCutchen’s 16-year career. His stolen base was also exciting as he took home on the back end of a double steal with Jared Triolo.

McCutchen became the 160th player in baseball history to reach 300 homers and the 11th active one.

He also joined a select club of 13 players with 2,000 hits, 400 doubles, 45 triples, 300 home runs and 200 stolen bases. The others are Hank Aaron, Carlos Beltran, Barry Bonds, George Brett, Joe Carter, Andre Dawson, Steve Finley, Reggie Jackson. Willie Mays, Frank Robinson, Larry Walker and Dave Winfield.

Eight players on that list have been inducted into the Hall of Fame and Beltran and Bonds would have plaques in Cooperstown if the voting were based strictly on playing ability. When McCutchen’s career ends, he will likely fall into the same category as Carter and Finley – very good but not Hall of Fame good.

Speaking of the end of McCutchen’s career, no one will know when to walk away more than him. He has always been a good self-evaluator and is far too prideful to hang on until somebody else tells him it is time to go home.

However, there is no need to schedule a retirement ceremony yet.

McCutchen isn’t done. He showed that on Sunday.

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