Pittsburgh Pirates: Building a Team of One-Season Wonders
By Noah Wright
Honorable Mention – RHP Reliever Vin Mazzaro
I almost wanted to put Vin Mazzaro in the relief pitching spot. In the end, I felt that Manzanillo had the better overall season, but I also feel that Mazzaro had much more of an impact on his team and the franchise as a whole. Manzanillo pitched for a Pittsburgh Pirates team that lost 100 games. However, Mazzaro played an extremely key role for the 2013 Pirates, the first Pirates team to make it back to playoff baseball in 20 years.
The Pirates had acquired Mazzaro the prior offseason from the Kansas City Royals. Up until this point, Mazzaro had a poor Major League career. He worked as a swing-man, starting 45 of his 61 games for the Royals and Oakland Athletics. In total, he had a 5.22 ERA, 5.01 FIP, and 1.62 WHIP.
Then came 2013, and Mazzaro tossed a whopping 73.2 innings, working to a phenomonal 2.81 ERA, 3.31 FIP, and 1.21 WHIP. Mazzaro never was a strikeout pitcher, both during his time in the minor leagues or major leagues, and he had just a 15.1% K-rate for the Bucs. However, he whittled his walk rate down from 9.5% from 2009-2012 to 6.9% in ’13, while also seeing his HR/9 plummet from 1.20 to just 0.37-per-9.
By the end of the season, the Pittsburgh Pirates had no issue giving Mazzaro late-inning/high-leverage innings. This all but cemented his place in the bullpen for 2014, right? The Pirates apparently thought otherwise as he was shockingly designated for assignment and sent to Triple-A, and would only pitch 10.1 innings for the Bucs in the major leagues.
After the Pirates released him following the 2014 campaign, he would only pitch 13 innings with the Miami Marlins and San Francisco Giants. While Mazzaro hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since 2016, he’s kept the dream alive, pitching in the Indepent circut the last handful of seasons. This past year, he pitched for the Frontier League Sussex County Miners.