Two-strike counts spell doom for most hitters. Their backs against the wall, batters expand the strike zone, take defensive swings and often slink back to the dugout after punching out or making weak contact.

Major leaguers are batting .178 and slugging .274 with two strikes this season, according to Inside Edge, which provides data-driven scouting reports and analytics to major league teams. James McDonald, for comparison's sake, is hitting .156 this season.

Those general rules don't apply to Andrew McCutchen and his lightning-quick wrists.

The Pirates' MVP candidate is tied for second in the majors in two-strike batting average (.276) and home runs (14) and leads in slugging percentage (.509) through Friday's games.

"You're still looking to be short and quick to the ball (with two strikes)," McCutchen said. "With the hands that I have, I'm able to let the ball travel a little deeper than somebody with a long swing. Just protect the zone, and work with my hands."