The 2014 version of the Pittsburgh Pirates offense took a huge step forward in many areas. Everyone knows about the team’s offensive rankings: fifth-best in MLB in .AVG, third in .OBP, and seventh in .SLG. But I’m willing to bet that some Pirates fans may still be surprised to learn that the Bucs ranked sixth overall in home runs. That’s right, sixth. That put them ahead of such traditionally home-run happy teams as the Los Angeles Angels and the Detroit Tigers. And, it is surprising that the Bucs would rank so high, with a down year from the team’s chief power threat in Pedro Alvarez, to go along with absences from Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker, who had a career year regardless.
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In 2015, the Pittsburgh Pirates could very well wield the power of the longball to an even greater extent than 2014, creating a terrifying scenario for the National League Central and beyond. In today’s game, the ability to create instant offense is perhaps even more valuable than during the heights of the Mark McGwire–Sammy Sosa days. As home runs decrease steadily in this new era, those teams that display good team-level power carry a significant edge over those that may rely on one or two pure power hitters.
As the Pirates were completing their 18-4 drubbing of the Philadelphia Phillies, the six home runs hit by the Bucs (two of which came from Alvarez) stirred in me a sudden realization.
The Pirates could have multiple players with 25+ HR this season.
A multifaceted Pirates offense built on both speed, good contact, and power would absolutely render them a force to be reckoned with throughout all of baseball. No longer relying on one or two power threats in the lineup, the Pirates could quite possibly trot out a lineup that is dangerous in a myriad number of ways. Today we are going to highlight those that have the best chance of launching 25 or more cannonballs into the rapturous PNC Park crowds.
We start with the obvious choice.
Next: The obvious