Dunlap: McCutchen Milestone Chasing Must-See Right Now

Andrew McCutchen
Photo credit Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Andrew McCutchen is going to do it. And he’s going to do it soon.

I’m not in the business of telling people how to feel, but this is the way I feel about it all … no matter your thoughts on all things Pirates from a wide angle lens, no matter how you feel about that May slide hoping it doesn’t turn into a June swoon, no matter how you feel about a team that started like a rocket ship and has cooled to a decent degree, this is one you should probably get up for.

Cutch is going to get his 2,000th hit in short order. It is coming and it is coming soon.

And no matter how deep or experienced of a baseball fan you are, this is flatly something you haven’t seen all that much.

McCutchen entered this three-game weekend series with the St. Louis Cardinals at 1,995 hits. He laced the first pitch he saw Friday night off Cardinals starter Jack Flaherty --- a 94 mph fastball --- through the left side for a base hit.

McCutchen keeps inching closer to history. Quite literally.

There are only 289 players in Major League Baseball history who have reached 2,000 hits.

Or, looking at it another way, only about 1.45 percent of all players who have played a Major League Baseball game have hit the threshold.

Eight Pirates --- before McCutchen inevitably hits the mark --- have achieved 2,000 hits. Roberto Clemente (3,000), Honus Wagner (2,967), Paul Waner (2,868), Max Carey and Pie Traynor (2,416), Lloyd Waner (2,317), Willie Stargell (2,232) and Bill Mazeroski (2,016) have eclipsed the mark.

Pirates manager Derek Shelton took a few moments before Friday night’s game to try to encapsulate the determination and industry needed to get to 2,000 hits.

“You have to be really good to get there,” Shelton said. “You have to be really good.”

Succinctly and plainly put. And accurate. So too is the demonstrable sense of anticipation that buzzed around the ballpark with fans. It was evident in McCutchen’s first at-bat as the crowd roared in a way normally reserved for Opening Day.

“Especially when it is Cutch and it comes here,” Shelton said. “Any time, when he comes to the plate here, there is excitement. And then when you are chasing a milestone, people are pretty fired up about it.”

Indeed. For sure. No question.

One such person is Pirates closer David Bednar, now a teammate of McCutchen’s but at one time a local kid who nestled in the stands as a fan and witnessed Cutch get some of those early-career hits.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Bednar said as he sat in the dugout on the steamy Friday afternoon watching McCutchen’s group taking batting practice. “It’s been so cool to watch him work as a teammate and just realize how good of a guy he is. I’m looking forward to it. It’s well-deserved.”

Sure is. And it’s coming soon. Very soon.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports