These Pittsburgh Pirates must play 150 games in 2015

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Sep 11, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder

Andrew McCutchen

(22) and second baseman

Neil Walker

(18) walk off the field after defeating the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. The Pirates defeated the Phillies, 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

In August of 2014, the Pittsburgh Pirates went through a truly horrid stretch brought on mainly by injuries.  Andrew McCutchen was savagely thrown at by some barbarians posing as snakes and Neil Walker‘s back had seized up again.  The result was a series of games that very nearly cost the Pirates their second consecutive playoff berth.  Yet, even after recalling the horror that was that month, as well as other injuries throughout the year to players like Russell Martin and Pedro Alvarez, I was still surprised when I discovered that no everyday Pittsburgh Pirate played 150 games last year.  Jordy Mercer, aka Mr. Dependable, came closest at 149.

Put bluntly, there will never be another Cal Ripken.  The landscape of today’s baseball is not the same as it was when Cal broke Lou Gehrig‘s streak.  Managers and front office put more stock in regular days of rest for players to keep both mind and body fresh than in Ripken’s time.  In addition, the trend of more pitchers pitching inside ends up with a lot of bumps and bruises for batters, requiring a very short one or two day break to heal up.  The closest streak in recent times to Cal’s was surprisingly Prince Fielder‘s 547 consecutive games which ended in May of 2014.  Add it all up, and it becomes very clear:  no one will ever come come close to 2,632.

Today I would like to highlight the four current Pittsburgh Pirates that must play at least 150 games for the team to truly perform like the contender that many think they are.   Some of these may be obvious, some not so much.  While it’s true that the Pirates have more versatile depth this year than year’s past, these are the guys who have to be out there as much as possible.

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