The Pittsburgh Pirates were a fun team in 2013.
94-68, this team finally -FINALLY – had a winning season for the first time since Clinton administration – the first one. They beat the Reds in a one game playoff and gave the Cardinals all they could handle in the NLDS.
How cool was it to see PNC packed and rocking like the old days when Barry Bonds and Bobby Bonilla were terrorizing the National League? I think we all kind of loved it for those guys.
Didn’t root for them to beat the Cardinals, but, you know.
Now in 2014, they Pirates are right back to where they’re comfortable – the bottom of the NL Central. They stand at 14-20, only 1.5 games ahead of the Cubs for last place and 7.5 games out of 1st. Starter Wandy Rodriguez and reliever Jason Grilli were just put on the 15-day DL and the overall offense is meeker than the Cardinals.
So was 2013 a fluke?
Stats say it probably way. The Pirates Pythagorean W-L last year was 88-74, meaning they outperformed what they should have been statistically by 6 games. Not an insignificant number, especially when almost every team will regress to the mean of what the stats say over the course of season.
They also got huge years from a guy like Francisco Liriano, who went 16-8 (not including his W against the Reds in the playoff game) and being a defacto ace, to 0-3 with a bloated 4.54 ERA in 2014.
With Russell Martin already on the DL, a peek up and down the Pirates offense doesn’t inspire much confidence. Setting Andrew McCutchen aside, the only other guy really hitting is Pedro Alvarez (8 HR/22 RBI – team leader in both).
So lack of hitting plus lack of quality starts (16 – 24th in MLB), equals a team that’s back to a place they know well – deep under .500.
Again, it was fun in 2013. I think we all enjoyed the Bucs run. Thought maybe a little mini-rivalry could be born.
But right now, the Cardinals just need to get to 20 wins and get home. Shouldn’t be nearly as hard as it was in 2013.
Photo: NY Times