The team that was written off before the season even began is now 11-4.
The Pittsburgh Pirates are 11-4, and are standing atop the NL Central standings in first place. Yes, it’s early but it’s also very encouraging for a team that fans said would have 90-100 losses. Fans even went as far as “boycotting” the team after they traded Andrew McCutchen to San Francisco, but they acquired Corey Dickerson in the offseason who has been an upgrade. Dickerson is hitting .358 with 10 RBIs. He is statistically one of the best players in the entire league this year while McCutchen is hitting .203 in San Francisco. The team also traded Gerrit Cole to Houston, where he has enjoyed early season success, but in return the Pirates got Colin Moran, who is hitting .310 with 8 RBIs, and Michael Feliz who has been solid out of the bullpen besides for the first game of the year. They also got Joe Musgrove in the deal, who is expected to join the starting rotation in a few weeks.
Speaking of the starting rotation, the Pirates starters have pitched 5 or more innings in every game this season, they are the only team in the league to do that. Jameson Taillon and Trevor Williams have been their best pitchers. Taillon is 2-0 with a 0.89 ERA, and he has only allowed 9 hits in 20 1/3 innings. He also won National League player of the week last week. Williams has gone 3-0 with a 1.56 ERA in his first three starts. While that’s very impressive, the story of the Pirates early on has been their offense.
The Pirates offense scored 77 runs through 12 games, the last time they have done that was 1903. They currently have the third best offense in the entire league. Right fielder, Gregory Polanco already has 5 home runs and 15 RBIs. He didn’t have 5 home runs last season until June 22nd. He is top 5 in the league in home runs, and tied for first in the league in RBIs. Catcher, Francisco Cervelli, leads all MLB catchers in RBIs with ten. Center fielder, Starling Marte, is hitting .305 with 3 home runs. Josh Bell, who finished third in NL Rookie of the year voting last season, is hitting .305 and has 10 RBIs. Leadoff hitter, Josh Harrison had the most hits in the NL until just about a week ago and was an all-star last season.
Therefore, you combine all this with one of the most dominant closers in the league, Felipe Vazquez, and the Pirates have a good team. They will definitely do better than what most fans expected this season. Last year they didn’t have 90 losses when Starling Marte was suspended for 80 games, Francisco Cervelli and Gregory Polanco missed about half the season with injuries, and Jameson Taillon was diagnosed cancer. Therefore, I don’t know how people could think this team, when fully healthy, will have 90 plus losses. The pirates, barring injuries, will be better than last season’s team and they can definitely compete for a spot in the postseason.