Pittsburgh Pirates (79-83) – 4th Place NL Central
If the baseball season ended before August, then the Pirates would have been much better off the past 2 seasons. A late season slump has not only cost them the playoffs, but has also sent their record below .500. The pitching was solid, but outside of Andrew McCutchen, the offense struggled, being in the bottom third of the league in runs scored and batting average.
Pitchers- AJ Burnett was better than advertised and was absolutely the ace of the Pirates’ staff. He won 16 games and had an ERA of 3.51. Trading for Burnett turned out to be a great deal for the Pirates, as they didn’t have to give up much, and the Yankees covered 20 of the 33 million dollars remaining on his contract. The rest of the rotation was pretty good as well. James McDonald and Kevin Correia both won 12 games and had ERA’s in the low 4’s. Wandy Rodriguez, who was acquired from the Astros mid-season, also enjoyed modest success in Pittsburgh. The bullpen for Pittsburgh was very good, if not great. Closer Joel Hanrahan was the best of the bunch, converting 36 of 40 save opportunities and striking out more than a batter per inning. Other relievers including Brad Lincoln, Jason Grilli, Jared Hughes, and Juan Cruz all had ERA’s lower than 3.
Infield- 2nd baseman Neil Walker remained one of the top bats in the Pirate lineup this past year. He hit .280 with 14 home runs and 69 RBIs. A lot was expected of 3rd baseman Pedro Alvarez coming into the 2012 season. While the average wasn’t there all year, the power definitely was. Alvarez finished 2nd on the team with 30 home runs while driving in 85 runs. Clint Barmes played the majority of games at shortstop for the Buccos, and he had little to no success at the plate, compiling just a .229 batting average. The Pirates began the year with Casey McGehee at 1st base, and ended the year with Gaby Sanchez there. Neither one provided the pop that is expected from a 1st baseman. Combined, the two only hit 12 home runs.
Outfield- You cannot talk about the Pirates without talking about MVP candidate center fielder Andrew McCutchen. ‘Cutch is the definition of a 5 tool player, and some even consider him a 15 tool player. What’s a 15 tool player you ask?? Well check out the video at the end of the blog to find out. McCutchen hit .327, scored over 100 runs, hit 31 home runs, drove in 96, and even stole 20 bases. He did all of this while playing an excellent center field. Garett Jones in right field also had a great year. He was 3rd on the team in home runs with 27, and 2nd on the team in RBIs with 86. Left fielder Jose Tabata, who had a great 2011, couldn’t really repeat the success he had the year before. This led to bringing up top prospect Starling Marte. Marte proved why he was so well regarded, hitting 5 home runs and stealing 12 bases in under 50 games. Marte could be a 20-20 guy for years to come.
Twitter Account of the Day-You guessed it, Andrew McCutchen @TheCUTCH22 and as always, don’t forget to follow all 3 of us @cniermann @WadeCArthur @TommyM44
Check out this video from MLB Fan Cave about Andrew McCutchen and his 15 tools. Man this guy can do it all!!