PittsbAs we prepare for another season of Pittsburgh Pirates baseball, expectations aren’t very high for Clint Hurdle‘s current group.
While personally I don’t feel the Pirates will contend for a division title in 2018, I also don’t think they will be nearly as bad as most people give them credit for.
What does everyone else think?
With Opening Day tomorrow, here’s a look at how some of the PBD staff members think the season will play out as we offer up our predictions for: the Pirates final record, the team’s MVP, Least Valuable Player, top pitcher, worst pitcher, biggest surprise and biggest bust of the season.
|Writer||Final Record||Team MVP||Team LVP||Top Pitcher||Worst Pitcher||Biggest Surprise||Biggest Bust|
|Joy Frank-Collins||83-79||Bell||Polanco/Freese||Taillon||Glasnow||Bullpen||Glasnow as SP|
Below are our thoughts on some of the biggest storylines of the upcoming season.
Matt Shetler– For me there is a lot of intrigue around this team and a lot of question marks, which should make this season interesting. Can Gregory Polanco and Starling Marte stay healthy and lead the Pirates offense? Can Josh Bell improve off a fine rookie season? What will newcomers Corey Dickerson, Colin Moran, Joe Musgrove, Michael Feliz and Kyle Crick bring to the team?
How much will the team actually miss Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole and most importantly, can the young group of Jameson Taillon, Chad Kuhl, Trevor Williams and Musgrove take the next step and become a pretty solid starting rotation?
The Bucs do have talent and while it may not be elite talent at this time, they have enough talent to be competitive, but they will do so only if the starting rotation takes the next step.
Of course the front office is always worth keeping an eye on, especially with veterans such as Josh Harrison and David Freese. Finally there’s the fan base. Will they live up to their threats of not showing up, even if the Pirates are competitive? Add all of those dynamics up and there’s a lot worth paying attention to this season.
Ethan Obstarcyzk- The Pirates will struggle out of the gate but turn things around in the second half, only to fall short of a Wild Card berth in the postseason.
Nathan Hursh- This is the year where the Pirates finally hit home some home runs. Five players will hit 20+ home runs. Polanco, Marte, Dickerson, Bell, and Moran.
Similarly to the last two seasons, the Pirates will hover around .500 all season and stay within the Wild Card race well into August. They will add a non-impact arm or two at the trade deadline, angering fans that they didn’t do more. Young pitchers such as Taillon, Kuhl, Williams, and Glasnow will progress. Polanco and Marte will bounce back and each record 3-4 fWAR seasons. Moran and Dickerson will add stability to the lineup. Cervelli will stay healthy. The bench will be strong.
In the end, things will go right for the Pirates in 2018, opposite of what happened in 2017 where seemingly everything went wrong. No suspensions. No terrible injuries. Pitching will progress. Hitting will progress. Play in the field will be subpar which will hurt the team most. In the end, the 2018 Pittsburgh Pirates will fall well short of a playoff berth as there just isn’t quite enough talent on the roster.
This season will shine a ray of hope into the future though and a playoff run in 2019 will be possible.
Joy Frank-Collins- This little team that nobody thought could is going to return to the Pirates’ gritty 2013 style and surprise everyone. Hope you have screenshots from the haters, because by the All Star Break, everyone will be back on the bandwagon.
Jason Rollison- The Pirates steal away a couple of series they shouldn’t and miss the playoffs by about four games and remain in contention much longer than anyone thinks before finally wilting.
Dickerson will perform at or above his All-Star level at the very least, with a chance for greater things. Sadly, Polanco will have another lost season and lead many to believe if his time with the Pirates should be cut short.
As for pitching, Taillon should be the top pitcher on the team. He may take a step back this year, but is still head and shoulders above his rotation mates. Neverauskas will make a quick exit from the club once it is determined he cannot miss enough bats to be a successful everyday reliever and I think we are all going to be pleasantly surprised that Michael Feliz was THAT good.
As for my bust, this is the year Adam Frazier takes a step back. He has solid contact skills but his defensive abilities will come into question and many will see that his ceiling is fully realized.
Jose Negron– Will Starling Marte continue to produce a year after his 80-game suspension and can Gregory Polanco stay healthy and take a step forward in 2018? Another top storyline involves Corey Dickerson and whether his production will atone for the loss of Andrew McCutchen.
Joel Norman- The Pirates win more games than local fans and media expect and are only eliminated from playoff contention on the second-to-last weekend of the season.