2015 Pittsburgh Pirates Gradeout – Clint Hurdle


The offseason is unfortunately here and so we are simultaneously tasked with reflecting on the 2015 season and looking forward to next spring. As part of Rumbunter’s off-season coverage, we will be grading out virtually every member of the Pittsburgh Pirates who spent substantial time on the team’s 25-man roster over the past season. We will look at their seasons as a whole, show you their relevant stats, and assign a final grade to each player. Today’s entry: Clint Hurdle

We have finished up pretty much every major contributor of the 2015 Pittsburgh Pirates, but players aren’t the only cogs in the Pirates’ machine. General management and of course management played a huge role in the 98 regular season wins.

You would think Clint Hurdle would be universally loved by Pirates’ fans. He has helped lead the franchise out of the abyss of 20 straight losing seasons and done it with a smile. He successfully re-bonded a city with its baseball club. Despite this, there is a loud minority of Pirates’ fans that scream “Hurdled” any time the Pirates lose a game or two.

It’s pretty much common place in baseball to blame the manager any time a team loses. That activity is as American as apple pie. However, I think an overwhelming amount of Pirates’ fans are more than happy with Hurdle’s performance as manager. How do I judge Hurdle for his job in 2015? Lets jump right in, shall we?

More from Rum Bunter

The Pirates entered 2015 with super high expectations and no one person had higher expectations than Clint Hurdle. He is forever the optimist, which is needed in the daily grind of 162 games. He made sure the Pirates never got too high on the wins or too low on the losses. The Pirates never had a losing streak longer than five games and that shows that Hurdle never let the clubhouse doubt themselves. The Pirates obviously had a ton of talent, but a good manager kept the team very even keeled and they never hit a prolonged losing streak. That is ridiculously impressive and a sign of a very solid manager. The Pirates also never had a full month of less than 17 wins from June onward and went 72-40 from June to October.

Some fans may question Hurdle’s managerial decisions, but no one can argue the results in 2015. He was especially good in the close games as the Pirates went 36-17 in one run games. Obviously there is some luck involved in this statistic, but luck is the residue of hard work and preparation. More often than not, Hurdle pushed the right buttons when the game was on the line. You can pick out games where Hurdle made decisions that didn’t work, but over 162 games, sometimes things just don’t work out and the team loses. Those moments were the exception in 2015 as you don’t win 98 games by accident.

It’s pretty much common place in baseball to blame the manager any time a team loses. That activity is as American as apple pie.

No manager is perfect and Hurdle’s biggest flaw this year was the Pirates record against the NL Central. The team did not perform up to par against their own division, especially the bottom feeders and this directly lead to the Pirates having to play in yet another National League Wildcard Game. The Pirates went 34-42 against their division this year, including 17-21 against the Reds and Brewers. Play better and beat the two worst teams in the division and the Pirates are watching the Cardinals and Cubs play in the NL Wildcard game and getting ready for the NLDS. The struggles against the Central Division was the Pirates’ downfall this season and Hurdle is as much to blame as any of the players and that is also the nature of baseball.

Clint Hurdle is far from a perfect manager as they do not exist in the game of baseball. He makes the occasional questionable decision mid game or starts Sean Rodriguez in the NL Wildcard game, but the good far outweighs the bad with Clint Hurdle. He is an old school baseball man that embraced advance metrics and infield shifting. He isn’t afraid to change his ways for the betterment of the team. That is a sign of a very good manager. He managers the talent on the field and manages himself. There might be a loud minority that cry “HURDLED” when the Pirates lost a game, but those fans would be unhappy regardless of who is managing as they prefer to focus on the negative rather than accept that the Pirates were a great team in 2015 with a very good manager. “Hurdled” to me means winning 98 games and being one of the best teams in baseball in both 2015 and the last three seasons overall.

Manager. Pittsburgh Pirates. CLINT HURDLE. A. The Pittsburgh Pirates were a very talented team and almost any competent manager could have lead them to at least a winning season, but it takes more than talent to win. Clint Hurdle had the trust of his team from Opening Day until the day the season ended. That can’t be ignored. Ask the Washington Nationals what it’s like when the players don’t trust the manager. Hurdle has his faults this season and deserves to be criticized for them, but the team did not win in spite of Hurdle. They were a good team made better by a very good manager. Because of this he earns a very solid A from me.

You’ve heard our take. Now it’s your turn. Sound off in the comments below, OR let us know on twitter.

For more Hot Stove Talk, please subscribe to our podcast!  You can do so on an iPhone/iPad by clicking this link. Android users – Simply download the Stitcher podcast app and search for “Rum Bunter.” Kicking it old school on a desktop?  Here’s the iTunes link, or you can listen a la carte over at our SoundCloud account.