Sunday, August 22, 2010

Wait Til Next Year- Pittsburgh Pirates

Today, I’ll be starting a segment I’m calling “Wait Til Next Year.” I’m going to look at non-playoff teams for 2010 and find a reason their fans should have hope for 2011 and beyond. I’m going to start from the bottom, meaning today belongs to the Pittsburgh Pirates and their .328 winning percentage.

Despite having the worst record in baseball, the Pirates actually have a lot to be excited about going forward. The Pirates have 9 hitters with more than 200 at-bats this year. None of them have celebrated their 30th birthday.

Among these hitters, there’s even more good news, as the Pirates young players who will form their future core are all 25 or less. Pirates wOBA leaders:

Player
Age
wOBA
WAR
Andrew McCutchen
23
.354
2.3
Neil Walker
24
.337
0.7
Pedro Alvarez
23
.330
0.6
Jose Tabata
21
.324
1.3

Possibly even more encouraging, each of these players is a rookie besides McCutchen, who is in his second year. There should be a lot of room for growth for this young Pirates core.

The Pirates have other bright spots that should give fans hope for the future. 2009 1st round pick Tony Sanchez has impressed in A+, and adding Andrew Lambo to the minor league ranks in the trade that sent Octavio Dotel to Los Angeles gives the team a few more bats to be excited about. Top pitching prospect Brad Lincoln has not impressed in his first taste of big-league action, but James McDonald has been lights-out since coming over in the Dotel trade, and 2010 2nd pick overall Jameson Taillon has been compared to Josh Beckett as one of the best high school pitchers to come out of the state of Texas.

However, the Pirates should be most excited about the hitting talent they already have in the big leagues. Very quietly, the Pirates have built a strong young core and it won’t be long before the rest of the NL Central is forced to take notice. So wait til next year, Pirates fans, but be excited about it. Neal Huntington’s great Buccaneer rebuild is nearly complete.

Check back tomorrow, when we’ll be discussing Buck Showalter’s Baltimore Orioles.

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