Pirates center fielder won easily
M-V-P: Most Versatile Pirate.
Andrew McCutchen was all that and more.
One of the game’s most dynamic talents, McCutchen coasted to the National League Most Valuable Player award by a surprisingly wide margin Thursday after leading a baseball revival in Pittsburgh with his speed, power and defense.
The center fielder received 28 of 30 first-place votes from a Baseball Writers’ Association of America panel to finish far ahead of Arizona first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina in a race that many thought would be tight.
“I’m floating right now,” McCutchen said in Pittsburgh. “But I definitely didn’t expect it to be a landslide with those other guys — Goldschmidt and Molina. They were great candidates and I didn’t know what to expect.”
Seated in a sweater and tie, a smiling McCutchen juked a sort of stationary shimmy when he was announced as the winner on MLB Network.
“If I could get up and dance right now I would, but I don’t have much room to do that,” he said. “When I get off camera, I probably will.”
Miguel Cabrera took the AL prize for the second straight year, once again winning by a comfortable gap over Angels outfielder Mike Trout.
A season after posting the majors’ first Triple Crown in 45 years, Cabrera came back to lead baseball in hitting at .348 and finish second with 44 home runs and 137 RBIs.
“To even be mentioned and to be in it with him is definitely an honor for me,” McCutchen said.
Cabrera got 23 of 30 first-place votes, becoming the first player to win consecutive AL MVPs since Frank Thomas for the Chicago White Sox in 1993 and 1994.
“This is unbelievable,” Cabrera said. “I’m so excited right now.”
McCutchen ranked among the NL leaders by hitting .317 with 21 home runs and 84 RBIs. He also scored 97 runs, stole 27 bases and had a .404 on-base percentage.
The 27-year-old with the long, flowing dreadlocks helped the Pirates stop a record streak of 20 losing seasons and make the playoffs for the first time since 1992.
Drafted 11th overall in 2005 out of a Florida high school — the landmark moment in turning around the moribund Pirates — McCutchen didn’t pay much attention to all the losing that was going on in Pittsburgh as he worked his way through the minors.
Little did he know what a challenge awaited him when he arrived in the majors four years ago.
“I never put that on myself,” McCutchen said. “It didn’t really sink in until I was actually in Pittsburgh in 2009 to where winning meant a lot more. That’s what it was all about. That’s when I started to feel the losing and the years of it. I
“ started to really be a part of that and feel it. I definitely felt I could be a big part of it [a turnaround] and I definitely felt we had the guys and the tools to be a winning team. It was going to take some time, but I knew eventually it was going to happen.”
McCutchen, third in MVP balloting last year, got 409 points this time. Goldschmidt finished second with 242, while Molina received the other two first-place votes and came in third.
“In a sense, yes, I was surprised. I thought it would be closer than it was,” McCutchen said. “I thought there was a chance of it being a really, really close race.”
Goldschmidt hit .302 with 36 homers and 125 RBIs. Molina batted .319 with 12 homers and 80 RBIs, and virtually shut down opponents’ running games. Molina and Goldschmidt each won a Gold Glove, too.
McCutchen’s win came two days after Pirates manager Clint Hurdle was picked as the NL Manager of the Year. McCutchen was the first Pittsburgh player to win the MVP since Barry Bonds in 1992.
The Pirates went 94-68 this year, a season after going 79-83. Pittsburgh beat Cincinnati in the NL wild-card game, then lost to St. Louis in a division series that went the full five games.