The Pittsburgh Pirates look to wrap up Unfinished Business

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A week ago, we asked our readers to tell us, in their own words, how the Pittsburgh Pirates can tie up their unfinished business.  The response was overwhelming, and we have picked the three best for you to enjoy.  Here, without further ado, are your words:

"The 2013 and 2014 Pittsburgh Pirates seasons were truly remarkable and wonderful experiences. To have a winning team again was nothing short of a joy. But after finally getting off the schneid in 2013, 2014’s loss in the wild card game leaves the Pirates wanting more. Entering 2015, they’re in position to truly contend for a world series. The return of Burnett provides a bolster to the already solid starting rotation. Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte anchor an outfield that has potential to be best in the league, pending Gregory Polanco‘s continued development.  Neil Walker is coming off a career year and shows no signs of regression, while J-Hay looks to build off of his breakout season in 2014. The Pirates have veteran stars, developing talent, and a solid pitching staff. The big difference this year is that the Pirates no longer have any glaring holes. In 2013, the offense (with the exception of Andrew McCutchen’s MVP campaign) was lackluster, and couldn’t pull out enough wins when the pitching staff faltered. In 2014, the offense picked up, while pitching and defense remained steady, but one key was missing: Attitude. The Pirates enter 2015 knowing they’re a heavyweight. No longer are they nipping at the heels of the best in the NL, they are staring them straight in the face, knowing full well they’re a championship caliber team. The Pirates enter 2015 with unfinished business, but they could end it with nothing left to do but spray each other with champagne.   -Robert Sproul"

"For the Pirates to handle their business and take it to the next level, what they need most is luck. Look to the projected standings to see how close they are to the Cardinals. Next look to the website run by power ranks and look at cluster luck information from last year. The Pirates were the 27th “luckiest” team while the Cards checked in at 17. Basically last year all the Pirates needed to do was get normal luck like the Cards and they would have had a far superior record as demonstrated by their respective Pythagorean records of 90-71 and 82-80. These records include normal luck. You can say this player needs to do X but the Pirates have amassed so much depth, if one player underperforms others are waiting in the wings. Sure there are potential stars in Marte, Polanco, and Cole, but they don’t need to break out into stars. For the Pirates to take the next step, they basically just need to be as good as last year and not have as much bad luck. A little Cardinal misfortune could not hurt and this is entirely possible with regression, aging players, and a Cardinal rotation littered with injury risk. So in my opinion all these Bucs need is some average luck. It’s not too much to ask. It would be nice for just once to have the Cardinals get unlucky and the luck to bounce the Bucs way. – Seth Rummel"

"The reason we are talking about the unfinished business of ’14 is due in no small part to the unfinished business at the #4 spot.  The Pirates could push through in ’15 with modest offensive improvement from a consistent Pedro Alvarez at clean-up.  In fact, Alvarez has an opportunity to wipe clean the defensive miscues from last year by simply taking ownership of the clean-up spot in the offense this season.  With a singular focus on reducing the legion of runners left stranded by a struggling rotation of clean-up contenders last season, “El Toro” could lift the team to an NL Central title simply by boosting the platoon clean-up stats to ‘average’.  As David Hill pointed out at the beginning of spring training, Pirates cleanup hitters produced a .225/.305/.393 batting line in ‘14. Their .698 OPS ranked 25th in baseball, batting average 27th, and on base percentage 26th. Yet, despite these dismal numbers, the Pirates were legitimate contenders for the NL Central title.  A marginal improvement in this line could prove to be all that is needed to lift the team from contention to dominance.  Among Pirates hitters, Alvarez is best poised to challenge the revolving door at #4. -Brian Michael Shaw"

A huge thank you to all of you for making Rum Bunter such a fun, interactive experience.  One thing we’ve always known is that our readers are simply the best in the business and make writing about our favorite team such an amazing experience.  It’s truly our honor to join you in following the Bucs on their 2015 journey.

Now.  Time to get back to business.

Next: Reds v. Pirates Series Preview