The last time the Pirates ended the season with a record better than .500 was 1992. I included a picture of Russell Crowe wearing a Pirates jacket, because it he’s had a streak of bad movies to rival the Pirates futility.
I picked Pittsburgh to win more than 81 games last season, but they fell just shy of that. They are headed in the right direction, but they are still a few players away from being on the same level as Cincinnati and St. Louis.
Can Andrew McCutchen repeat his MVP-level 2012 season?
Here is the 2013 MLB season preview for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
2012 Win/Loss Record: 79-83
Key Additions: P Francisco Liriano, C Russell Martin, P Andy Oliver, 3B Brandon Inge, P Jonathan Sanchez, P Mark Melancon, P Stolmy Pimentel, 1B Clint Robinson, OF Brad Hawpe, P Jose Contreras, P Jeanmar Gomez, OF Jerry Sands, SS Ivan Dejesus Jr.
Key Losses: P Joel Hanrahan, P Kevin Correia, P Chad Qualls, C Rod Barajas, OF Brandon Boggs, 1B Jeff Clement, P Rick VandenHurk, P Chris Resop, P Brock Holt, P Evan Meek
Interleague Schedule: AL West + Detroit Tigers
Projected Starters: Russell Martin, Garrett Jones, Neil Walker, Pedro Alvarez, Clint Barmes, Starling Marte, Andrew McCutchen, Travis Snider
Projected Starting Rotation: A.J. Burnett, Wandy Rodriguez, James McDonald, Jeff Karstens, Francisco Liriano
Closer: Jason Grilli
Fantasy Sleepers: OF Travis Snider - It’s hard to just find one sleeper on the Pirates, because they have four players who should get at least 300+ at-bats who could breakout in 2013. All four of these players were once their organization’s top 10 prospects list. Outfielders Travis Snider, Jose Tabata, Starling Marte and first baseman Gaby Sanchez. Pittsburgh received Snider and Sanchez for very little in trade. Pittsburgh hopes one of these two will give them a big pay out. Tabata had a very promising 2009 season. Things hasn’t gone very good since. The final player of this group, Startling Marte, still needs some seasoning at the plate. He swings at everything thrown at him. If I had to pick one of these players, I’d go with Travis Snider. Fantasy owners have picked Snider to be a fantasy sleeper for three or four seasons in a row. It’s the same routine every season. He struggles at the plate, gets demoted to Triple-A, he hits the leather off the ball at that level, gets called up…and struggles again. One of these seasons, it will translate to the Majors.
Team Analysis: Pittsburgh is unfortunately in the same division as the Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals. Those teams are loaded and have something that’s unable to be taught, playoff experience. Even if the Pirates had a playoff-capable roster, they wouldn’t know what to do it right now. Pittsburgh enters this season with their most talented team since 1992. The years of losing have earned them high draft picks. Not many of those players have panned out, but they do have many ready to be called up. The Pirates hope their top two pitching prospects, Gerrit Cole & Jameson Taillon will eventually push them to the next level, but they will have to wait until later this season when they’re expected to be called up. Pittsburgh is trending up while St. Louis and Milwaukee get older and less talented. The streak of losing seasons will end soon, if not this season, it will happen in 2014.
Sportsbook.ag’s 2013 Wins Over/Under Line: 77.5 (Prediction: OVER)
2013 Projected Win/Loss Record: 83-79 (4th in NL Central)