In this Oct. 1, 2013, file photo, Pittsburgh Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen, right, dives back to first on a pickoff attempt in the fourth inning during the NL wild-card playoff baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright, File)
by Mike Fitzpatrick
AP Baseball Writer
NEW YORK (AP) – 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.
Andrew McCutchen makes a sliding catch against the St Louis Cardinals on July 30 at PNC Park. The Bucs swept the Cards in a rare doubleheader to move into 1st place in the National League Central. (Courier Photo/William McBride/File)
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,” said McCutchen, who grew up emulating Ken Griffey Jr.
In this Sept. 16, 2013, photo, Detroit Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera bats against the Seattle Mariners in a baseball game in Detroit. Cabrera has won the American League Most Valuable Player award for the second straight year. Cabrera won by a comfortable margin Thursday, Nov. 14, getting 23 of 30 first-place votes from members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
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.
“It’s a huge honor just to be one of the finalists,” Goldschmidt said in a statement. “I want to say congratulations to Andrew McCutchen and Miguel Cabrera and all of the other winners. It was a good year and hopefully we’ll move on and get a little bit better as a team next year and strive towards making the playoffs and winning the World Series.”
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. Along the way, McCutchen became the face of the franchise and heard loud “MVP!” chants when he would step to the plate at PNC Park this summer.
“I’d lie to you if I said it didn’t enter my mind ever,” he said. “It’s awesome to hear something like that.”
Pittsburgh beat Cincinnati in the NL wild-card game, then lost to St. Louis in a division series that went the full five games.
McCutchen is sure the team’s success played a major role in his MVP award, which earned him a $125,000 bonus.
“Especially considering the numbers I had all-around definitely were down from last year when I ended up being in third place,” he said. “I wouldn’t have been able to do it without those guys. It’s most valuable player, but I feel like you’ve got to make that ‘player’ plural. It’s most valuable players. That’s what it means to me. It’s not only my award, it’s a team award.”
Cabrera won the AL MVP last year after hitting .330 with 44 homers and 139 RBIs. The 30-year-old third baseman from Venezuela topped Trout 22-6 in first-place votes in that balloting.
Trout got five first-place votes this time and came in second, 103 points behind Cabrera. The difference was 81 points last season, when Trout was AL Rookie of the Year.
Baltimore first baseman Chris Davis, who led the majors with 53 homers and 138 RBIs, was third. Davis and Oakland third baseman Josh Donaldson each received a first-place vote.
“I think all three guys deserve this trophy,” Cabrera said.
Despite an assortment of injuries that slowed him down the stretch, Cabrera took his third AL batting title in a row. He also drew a $1 million bonus for winning a second MVP during his current contract with Detroit.
The Tigers have virtually owned the major postseason awards during a three-year run of success. Justin Verlander was the MVP and Cy Young winner in 2011, Cabrera took the MVP last season and Detroit ace Max Scherzer won this year’s Cy Young Award on Wednesday.
“I’m on the right team,” Cabrera said.
Hard to argue that. Even though Boston beat St. Louis in the World Series, no one on the Red Sox or Cardinals won any of the major BBWAA awards.
AP Baseball Writer Ben Walker and AP freelance writer Jim Lachimia in Pittsburgh contributed to this report.
National League Most Valuable Players
The Associated Press2013 – Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh
2012 – Buster Posey, San Francisco
2011 – Ryan Braun, Milwaukee
2010 – Joey Votto, Cincinnati
2009 – x-Albert Pujols, St. Louis
2008 – Albert Pujols, St. Louis
2007 – Jimmy Rollins, Philadelphia
2006 – Ryan Howard, Philadelphia
2005 – Albert Pujols, St. Louis
2004 – Barry Bonds, San Francisco
2003 – Barry Bonds, San Francisco
2002 – x-Barry Bonds, San Francisco
2001 – Barry Bonds, San Francisco
2000 – Jeff Kent, San Francisco
1999 – Chipper Jones, Atlanta
1998 – Sammy Sosa, Chicago
1997 – Larry Walker, Colorado
1996 – x-Ken Caminiti, San Diego
1995 – Barry Larkin, Cincinnati
1994 – x-Jeff Bagwell, Houston
1993 – Barry Bonds, San Francisco
1992 – Barry Bonds, Pittsburgh
1991 – Terry Pendleton, Atlanta
1990 – Barry Bonds, Pittsburgh
1989 – Kevin Mitchell, San Francisco
1988 – Kirk Gibson, Los Angeles
1987 – Andre Dawson, Chicago
1986 – Mike Schmidt, Philadelphia
1985 – Willie McGee, St. Louis
1984 – Ryne Sandberg, Chicago
1983 – Dale Murphy, Atlanta
1982 – Dale Murphy, Atlanta
1981 – Mike Schmidt, Philadelphia
1980 – x-Mike Schmidt, Philadelphia
1979 – Willie Stargell, Pittsburgh, and Keith Hernandez, St. Louis
1978 – Dave Parker, Pittsburgh
1977 – George Foster, Cincinnati
1976 – Joe Morgan, Cincinnati
1975 – Joe Morgan, Cincinnati
1974 – Steve Garvey, Los Angeles
1973 – Pete Rose, Cincinnati
1972 – Johnny Bench, Cincinnati
1971 – Joe Torre, St. Louis
1970 – Johnny Bench, Cincinnati
1969 – Willie McCovey, San Francisco
1968 – Bob Gibson, St. Louis
1967 – x-Orlando Cepeda, St. Louis
1966 – Roberto Clemente, Pittsburgh
1965 – Willie Mays, San Francisco
1964 – Ken Boyer, St. Louis
1963 – Sandy Koufax, Los Angeles
1962 – Maury Wills, Los Angeles
1961 – Frank Robinson, Cincinnati
1960 – Dick Groat, Pittsburgh
1959 – Ernie Banks, Chicago
1958 – Ernie Banks, Chicago
1957 – Hank Aaron, Milwaukee
1956 – Don Newcombe, Brooklyn
1955 – Roy Campanella, Brooklyn
1954 – Willie Mays, New York
1953 – Roy Campanella, Brooklyn
1952 – Hank Sauer, Chicago
1951 – Roy Campanella, Brooklyn
1950 – Jim Konstanty, Philadelphia
1949 – Jackie Robinson, Brooklyn
1948 – Stan Musial, St. Louis
1947 – Bob Elliott, Boston
1946 – Stan Musial, St. Louis
1945 – Phil Cavarretta, Chicago
1944 – Marty Marion, St. Louis
1943 – Stan Musial, St. Louis
1942 – Mort Cooper, St. Louis
1941 – Dolph Camilli, Brooklyn
1940 – Frank McCormick, Cincinnati
1939 – Bucky Walters, Cincinnati
1938 – Ernie Lombardi, Cincinnati
1937 – Joe Medwick, St. Louis
1936 – Carl Hubbell, New York
1935 – Gabby Hartnett, Chicago
1934 – Dizzy Dean, St. Louis
1933 – Carl Hubbell, New York
1932 – Chuck Klein, Philadelphia
1931 – Frank Frisch, St. Louis