As a franchise in Major League baseball when your team gets used to winning and have a down year, it could be tough to recover. Some teams bounce back quicker than others. Clubs such as the Red Sox, Yankees, and Giants could have a setback season and still return to the playoffs the next season. One team that is hard to be that lucky is the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Before the 2016 season Pittsburgh fans had something huge to cheer about, Pirates made the playoffs three seasons in a row. Before 2013 the last playoff run the Pirates had was back in 1992. That season was the third straight year of making the post season as well. Between the playoff droughts of 93 till 2011 the Pirates had all losing seasons totaling 1,796 games lost. Since then Pirates general manager Neal Huntington has never been afraid to open up the teams check book to make the team better. While the Pirates finished only four games below .500 in 2016, they ended 25 games out of first due to the dominating Chicago Cubs. The 2017 Pittsburgh Pirates has lost some key pieces such as closer Mark Melancon, Matt Joyce and Jeff Locke, the Bucs still have a lot to be excited about.
Pittsburgh Pirates key players
Andrew McCutchen: Known as the heart of this Pirates team, Cutch is a five time All-Star, and a 2013 NL MVP. Andrew had a bit of a down year only batting .256. Despite the average Cutch belted 24 homers and knocked in 79 RBI’s last season which was the team’s best in 2016.
Gerrit Cole: The Pirates ace had a rough 2016 only going 7-10 battling some injuries. This 2015 All-Star looks to be healthy and looks ready to lead the Bucs pitching staff this season.
Starling Marte: This 2016 All-Star is coming off his best season. Marte finished with a career high batting average of .311, he also had a career high in the stolen base department swiping 47 bags.
The pitching is a big question for Pittsburgh in 2017, Tony Watson is expected to be the teams closer. Watson was a little shaky at times trying to take over for Melancon after the trade in July. The Pirates did add Daniel Hudson as a free agent from Arizona to help out the bullpen. The Pirates have a solid lineup, but it’s going to be tough to keep up with Chicago and St. Louis for a division title. Pittsburgh has not won a World Series since 1979, and the team has not won the division since 1992. The Pirates have a rough road but still have a chance to get over the hump.