Jul 19, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer (top) is greeted by right fielder Gregory Polanco (25) and left fielder Josh Harrison (5) after hitting a game wining RBI single against the Colorado Rockies during the eleventh inning at PNC Park. The Pirates won 3-2 in eleven innings. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Pirates Should Be Considered the NL Central Favorite

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The Buccos are always left out of the argument when looking at the 2014 NL Central Playoff outlook moving into the second half, but the question is why?

If you take a look at nothing but sheer performance, then common sense will dictate that the Pirates should be mentioned as the favorite to take the division even above the Cardinals.

I know that seems like a preposterous suggestion, but let’s just go ahead and take a look at some facts that would support the Pirates ending up as the eventual 2014 NL Central Champions.  Especially since all of those that predict it WON’T happen seem to leave them out of the argument.

Try to keep your jaws from dropping open when reading please.

Fact #1.

The Pirates are in the top 5 in the National League in nearly every major offensive statistic.

You read that correctly.  The same lineup that was criticized mercilessly for not having all the pieces in place to be competitive is ripping through NL pitching with sniper like precision.  Here are the rankings:

854 hits –  5th

85 Home Runs- 5th

383 RBI’s – 5th

.256 Batting Average – T-3rd

.332 On Base %- 1st

.388 Slugging %- 5th

.720 OPS- 4th

Quick!   Can you name another team in the NL besides the Colorado Rockies that can claim this much dominance at the plate?

Fact #2

The Pirates own the best winning percentage in the NL Central since May 2nd.

If you just listened to the radio and read national reports on this division you would literally think the Pirates are hanging on for dear life!  Like an injured koala bear barely clinging onto a eucalyptus tree.  Those poor Pirates are really giving it their best effort.  Bless their little hearts.. Unless you actually watch the games, you’d never know that statistically the Pirates are playing the best baseball in this division over the last 2 1/2 months.  Really…it’s true.

Records since May 2nd:

Brewers 32-35 (.470 winning %)

Reds 38-31 (.550 winning %)

Cardinals 39-30 (.565 winning %)

Pirates 40-28 (.588 winning %)

So, the only question I have is that shouldn’t the team that is actually winning the most games be considered the favorite to win the division?  I guess not.

I can continue to rattle off facts about why the Pirates are playing the best baseball right now and talk about how the starting pitching has ranked over the last 2 months, but I think you get the idea.

I know that these pesky ‘facts’ will grossly contradict the many baseball experts in Pittsburgh and beyond that have inexplicably picked the Pirates to regress this year, but unfortunately for them, you can’t argue with the truth.  The fact that most analysts continue to look past the action that is taking place on the field as a basis for their NL Central analysis is not only disappointing but it’s starting to get pathetic.

But despite that utter lack of validity behind all of the criticism that the Pirates have been forced to absorb this year, I don’t imagine the players on the 2014 Pittsburgh Pirates would have it any other way however?  They’ve repeatedly been told that they’re not strong enough, that they lack depth, that 2013 was a figment of imagination.

They’ve heard such garbage like without major free agent acquisitions in the offseason there is no chance to win let alone repeat the playoff run.  They’ve endured a shower of naysayers that said picking up Edinson Volquez was a waste of $5 million and indicative of a leadership that didn’t care about winning.  They’ve listened to the fact that Burnett not being resigned was undoubtedly the stake in the heart of this team that COULD HAVE made a run but lacked the desire to spend any money.

All of the above was so rigorously debated in March and April that it seemed like it might not even be worth showing up on opening day?  After all, what’s the use of playing if there’s no chance you can win?

The funny thing about all of this faulty and amateurish reporting is that even though nearly every argument made as to why the Pirates won’t be able to match the success of 2013 has been proven wrong, most of these same so-called experts continue to predict they’ll fall short.

What’s the definition of insanity?  Doing (or in this case saying) the same thing over and over and expecting different results?  Then reasonably, we can all say that those who continue to harp on the Pirates not being a legitimate contender are clearly….insane.

I’m not sure about the rest of the fan base, but for me I feel extremely confident (as I have all season) in the fact that the Pirates are poised to make another run at the NL Central championship.  They are arguably the most talented team in the division and they are without a doubt playing the best baseball since May.

So instead of trying to search for all the reasons why the Pirates don’t have a shot to repeat the success this year, why don’t we give credit where credit is due and take notice of what is actually happening on the diamond.

Because no matter how hard you try, you just can’t argue with the facts.

 

 

 

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