Pittsburgh Pirates centerfielder Andrew McCutchen conducted his offseason training at IMG Academy last year and went on to have the best year of his career. McCutchen took home the Rawlings Gold Glove for defense, and finished third in voting for the National League (NL) MVP Award. This offseason, he is joined by teammates third-baseman Pedro Alvarez and second-baseman Neil Walker.
Alvarez is also coming off the best season of his three-year career. Alvarez set new career-bests with 30 home runs, 85 RBI, 25 doubles, 128 hits, and 64 runs while batting sixth in the Pirates starting lineup. Notably, Alvarez’s bat came alive in August, where he hit .322 with five home runs to extend the Pirates postseason hopes into the month of September.
Despite an injury laden season that kept him out of the last 10 games of the season, Walker posted a .280 batting average and .340 on-base percentage in 2012. Additionally, Walker recorded 69 RBI and 14 home runs. Walker completed physical rehab in late December, and came to IMG Academy to train and work out in preparation for the 2013 season.
Walker talked to MLB.com about his time so far at IMG Academy, saying, "Everything is going good. I've had no setbacks all offseason. The intensity of my workouts have been above and beyond where I was [a couple of months ago]."
The Pittsburgh Pirates had a solid season, and were in the thick of the playoff hunt following the All-Star break. At the time, they were in first place in the NL Central for the first time since 1997, and 11 games over .500 for the first time since 1992. However, a series of unfortunate breaks led to the team faltering near the end, finishing the season with a 79-83 overall record. McCutchen, Alvarez and Walker have one goal in mind this year – to make the postseason and finish the season strong.