Top 10 Pittsburgh Pirates of the first half

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Jul 2, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Francisco cervelli (29) celebrates after he hit a home run in the fourth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

#4 – Francisco Cervelli

If you asked Pirates’ fans who the biggest surprise has been so far this season, Francisco Cervelli would most likely top the list. When the Pirates’ traded for him this past offseason, he had tremendous shoes to fill with the departure of Russell Martin to Toronto. But with a salary under $1 million, he’s been worth every single penny.

He’s already having the best season of his career, having gone from being a backup to a starter in Pittsburgh. He’s been great offensively in 2015, with a .294/.366/.400 line to go along with 30 RBIs. He’s also been a clutch performer this season, as evidenced by his game-tying RBI against the Cardinals this past Sunday night.

What also stands out about Cervelli is his pitch framing ability. He leads all of baseball in defensive runs saves at 14.0, and has been an above average blocker and defender behind the plate as well. He’s also caught the majority of games for the second-best pitching staff in baseball, which has to count for something. Considering the value catchers provide in so many other areas besides offense, and considering how much money Russell Martin is making compared to him, Cervelli has been one of the most important pieces to the success of the Pirates in 2015.

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