2013: 94-68, lost in NLDS to St. Louis
It's a new era for the Pittsburgh Pirates, one where postseason success is finally attainable. After a few years on the rise, the Pirates broke through and finished strong, unlike 2012 and 2011, to clinch the top Wild Card spot in the National League. They did it under a constrained payroll and with far less star power than their division rivals the Cardinals and Reds in what was baseball's toughest division. An electrifying win in the Wild Card game over Cincy saw rambunctious Pirates fans play an instrumental role in rooting the team to victory. Franchise player Andrew McCutchen was tabbed with leading the team into the playoffs, and the baseball writers rewarded him with the MVP award. Young players Starling Marte (.280 avg, 41 steals) and Pedro Alvarez (36 home runs, 100 RBIs) were key offensive contributors in a lineup that took all the runs it could get. But perhaps the most important position player (besides the MVP, of course) was a guy who batted just .226, catcher Russell Martin. The coaching staff and pitchers laid on the praise as the season went on about how his pitch-calling and leadership behind the plate were extremely influential in winning ballgames in his first year in a Pittsburgh uniform.
The Pirates find their pitchers in a few different places, but last season they were all great. No pitcher that started more six games or appeared in more than 30 had an ERA above 4.00, a highly impressive feat. They also revitalized the career of shutdown closer Jason Grilli in his mid-30s. The Pirates return almost everyone from last season's squad minus starter A.J. Burnett, who had been a veteran leader of the pitching staff, but thanks to superstar prospect start Gerrit Cole they have the depth to sustain that loss. They also added starter Edinson Volquez and first baseman Ike Davis, filling a huge hole in the lineup. In Davis they acquire a 32-homer hitter from just two years ago; if he can hit lefties even adequately, the right field porch fans should be put on notice for home run balls. They don't have the resources many other contending teams do, but manager Clint Hurdle finds ways to motivate his team better than few others. After getting a game away from knocking off the hated Cardinals, Pittsburgh is hungry for more. Gold Coast Tickets has the best selection on Pirates tickets!