As a small-market team, there's been great times and horrific despair where the Pittsburgh Pirates are concerned. Nine times, the Pirates have won the National League pennant. Pittsburgh won the World Series on a Game 7 walkoff home run by Bill Mazeroski in 1960, the only time that has happened in MLB history. The Bucs also won Fall Classics in 1971 and 1979. On the flip side, the Pirates suffered 20 consecutive losing seasons from 1993 through to 2012, the longest ever streak by a professional North American sports team.
Lately, hope has returned to the Steel City, with three consecutive playoff appearances by the Pirates from 2013-15, their first postseason action since 1992.
Pittsburgh Pirates Next Regular Season Game
After three successive playoff appearance, the Pittsburgh Pirates slumped to 78-83 in 2016 and a big reason why was a complete drop off in their performance at PNC Park.
When the Pirates finished 2015 with a 98-64 record, with their home record was 53-28. In 2016, Pittsburgh won just 38 home games and played .475 baseball in front of their own fans.
With 162 games on the slate, one thing that's certain is that the teams left standing at season's end have earned the right to perform in the postseason.
The Pirates were one of those teams for three seasons but regressed to a losing season in 2016. A 9-19 June started a skid that saw Pittsburgh fall from 98 to 78 wins, the largest regression of any National League team.
What Are The Current Pittsburgh Pirates Standings
While the playoffs were part of the Pittsburgh Pirates' seasons from 2013-15, what hasn't happened in the Steel City for a long time is a pennant-raising ceremony.
Since the NL Central Division was formed in 1994, the Pirates are the only member yet to win a title. In fact, Pittsburgh's last division crown was earned in 1992, when they were still residing in the NL East.
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Making It Big From Small
Despite operating with one of the smallest budgets and salary structures in all of baseball, the Pittsburgh Pirates have found a way to remain competitive by creating one of the best player development systems in the game.
On top of that, manager Clint Hurdle is an innovative field general who studies analytics religiously, believes in defensive shifts and is willing to put into play high-risk, high-reward scenarios to make things happen on the basepaths.
Will McCutcheon Bounce Back?
When seeking reasons behind Pittsburgh's 2016 decline, you can start with the poor performance of center fielder Andrew McCutcheon. The NL MVP in 2013, from 2012-15, McCutcheon's numbers were other-worldly - .313 batting average, .404 on-base percentage, .523 slugging percentage, 100 home runs and 76 stolen bases. McCutcheon posted a 26.4 WAR over that four-year span, third-best in all of baseball.
In 2016, the wheels came off. McCutcheon hit .256 and stole just six bases. His WAR was an abominable -0.7. Was this season a bump in the road, or a sign of what's to come for Pittsburgh's best player?