Team Ace: AJ Burnett
Most Valuable Position Player: Andrew McCutchen
Breakout Candidate: Starling Marte
Notable Offseason Additions: Russell Martin, Fransisco Liriano
Notable Offseason Losses: Erik Bedard, Joel Hanrahan
Biggest Team Weakness: Inconsistency
AJ Burnett has revived his career in Pittsburg, a city that hasn’t had it’s baseball team in the playoffs for the last * years. In fact, they haven’t had a winning season since 1992. Yet over the last 2 or 3 years around the All-star break, they’re close to having one of the best records in the league. Pedro Alvarez has one of his patented stretches of power, the pitching staff has James McDonald striking out double-digit hitters every 5 days, and Andrew McCutchen is the runaway MVP candidate. The baseball analysts make their bold predictions, “This is the year. This is the year they finally make the post season. This is the year they win the division.” And then the team hits a wall, and comes crashing down. I haven’t fallen for it yet, and I’m not falling for it in 2013 either. Even if the Pirates are 10 games ahead in the standings come August 1st, I know something will happen. Now, there’s only so far you can fall with a month or two left of the season, and that’s why the Pirates will probably finish the season ranked higher than 21st overall, but if the power ranking were purely judging a team’s chance of making the post season (which isn’t what power rankings are about, but what the heck?) these guys are in the right spot.
The pros are as follows. Andrew McCutchen is a great player, an almost perfect mix of power, speed, and consistency at the plate. AJ Burnett looks young again, and you get Wandy Rodriguez for a full season to solidify the rotation a bit. Starling Marte has shown he can be an every day player, and should put up stellar numbers after his first stint in the majors last fall. But guys like Clint Barmes, Travis Snider, and Garret Jones can only get a team so far.