Likely All-Star McCutchen keeps improving

Likely All-Star McCutchen keeps improving

PITTSBURGH -- Andrew McCutchen, already in a good position to land a spot in the National League's starting All-Star outfield, is in the stretch of a hot June that could make him the top vote-getter among the league's outfielders.

In the penultimate voting update, McCutchen was running second, merely about 7,000 votes behind the Dodgers' Yasiel Puig.

McCutchen keeps improving his platform daily. On Saturday, his leadoff double in the fourth inning led to two runs. That was his 20th extra-base hit of June -- the best monthly output by a Pirates player since April 2008, when Nate McLouth had 19.

That's just a snapshot of the June he is having. He leads the league this month in hits (36), RBIs (25), total bases (72) and extra-base hits (20).

Will he also lead in votes when polls close, on Thursday?

Fans can cast their votes for starters at MLB.com -- online or on a mobile device -- using the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian until Thursday at 11:59 p.m. ET. The 2014 All-Star Game will be played at Target Field on Tuesday, July 15 on FOX.

All-Star voters tend to focus on offense, of which McCutchen obviously has plenty. But especially at his position, center field, defense should also be considered.

His manager is among those convinced that McCutchen now is a far superior defensive player than he was even in 2012, when he was awarded a Gold Glove.

"I do think he's better," Clint Hurdle said. "Initial breaks are better, routes have continued to improve and the throwing arm continues to show up improved. Not just the accuracy, but the strength."

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.