There are few things in baseball quite as breathtaking as McCutchen — dreadlocks seeming to create a black vapor trail behind him — trying to stretch a hit for extra bases or chase down a ball in the quirky outfield at his home park.
McCutchen understands his importance on a franchise trying to end two decades of losing. He doesn't feel, however, that his role has to change to help make that happen. He's not one to throw things or call a team meeting. He never has been. That's not going to change no matter how many zeroes are on his paycheck.
"I'm not a real rah-rah guy that's going to raise my voice," McCutchen said. "However, it something needs to be said, I'm willing to stand up and say it. I feel I've reached the point in my career where I can do that. But I'm never going to make a big scene or make a big deal out of it. I say what I have to say and that's it."
That's more than fine by his teammates and his manager. Clint Hurdle has been on teams with superstars who demand the spotlight and ones who would prefer to just go do their job. In a way, McCutchen is both.
"You look at the way Andrew plays, the way he prepares and there's no question he has the respect of the players in that room," Hurdle said. "When he says something, his teammates know to take it seriously."
And make no mistake, McCutchen is serious about returning Pittsburgh to the postseason. He was as disgusted as anyone in last summer's swoon. And he's just as committed to making sure it's not going to happen again.
"He's going to do everything in his power to make this franchise as successful as it can be," owner Bob Nutting said.
That includes sticking around. The contract extension offers tangible proof McCutchen believes in the direction the Pirates are heading. If he continues to develop — he won't turn 27 until October — he may be one of the best values in baseball even as his salary escalates.
The only certainty around the Pirates for most of the last 20 years has been uncertainty. McCutchen is trying to change that one at bat, one smile, one "is that him?" stare at a time.
"The way I look at it, people are going to notice you for one of two reasons, if you do something good or you do something bad," he said. "At least, they're noticing me for doing something good."