Diary of a long-suffering Pirates fan: If you want to go to the playoffs, score more runs. Just like spring.

Pirates are top ten in scoring runs in Spring Training. Can we believe in these numbers?

Washington Nationals v Pittsburgh Pirates
Washington Nationals v Pittsburgh Pirates / Justin K. Aller/GettyImages

Spring Training team statistics can sometimes be predictive of future regular season results, and sometimes not so much.  Take 2023 for instance.  Last March, the Atlanta Braves scored the second-most runs in Spring Training games and then proceeded to score the most runs in the regular season.  The Baltimore Orioles likewise previewed their regular season coming-out party in March when they scored the fourth-most runs in Spring Training.

On the other end of that spectrum, though, I give you the 2023 Oakland A’s and Kansas City Royals.  The two teams with the worst records in baseball had very good springs.  The Royals scored the most runs in the 2023 Spring Training and Oakland finished eighth in runs scored.  Their regular season performances couldn’t have been more different from their Spring Training performances.

So, in some instances (Braves and Orioles), Spring Training results are predictive, and in some instances (Royals and A’s), they are not.

But Spring Training aside, in the regular season, scoring runs is a very big predictor of whether a team will make the post season.  Score lots of runs, and chances are you will get to the playoffs. 

In 2023, eight of the top 10 run-scoring teams made the post-season. Only the Cubs (sixth) and the Reds (ninth) missed out.

Moreover, a look at the recent World Series winners reveals that if you expect to win the World Series, you need to be one of the top eight run-producers in MLB.  Let’s review:


World Series Champ

Runs Scored (MLB Rank)


Texas Rangers



Houston Astros



Atlanta Braves



Los Angeles Dodgers



Washington Nationals



Boston Red Sox



Houston Astros



Chicago Cubs



Kansas City Royals


You have to go back to the 2014 San Francisco Giants before you find a team that won a World Series without being among the top eight in baseball in scoring runs.  They finished 12th.

So why are you telling us this, Mr. Obvious?

Because, the Pirates are currently tied for ninth in runs scored in Spring Training.  But with more spring games on the schedule, they are still in striking distance to climb up the leaderboard before they break camp.

In my previous posts, I have written optimistically about the pitching the Pirates have stockpiled in the minors.  But that pitching will be of no use if the Pirates cannot score runs.  Just ask the Milwaukee Brewers.  Surprisingly, they allowed the fewest runs in baseball last year.  That is quite an achievement when you consider the home run-friendly confines in which they play.  But, great pitching or not, the Brewers and their 17th-ranked offense were a quick out in the playoffs.

So as one follows the Pirates this year, keep an eye out on the run production numbers.  The path to the World Series, as recent history dictates, is to get into the top eight.

The Pirates finished 22nd in run production last year in the regular season.  In the Spring of 2023, they finished 27th.  In 2022, the Pirates finished 20th in Spring Training run production and then finished 27th in the regular season on their way to 100 losses.  In both instances, the Spring Training numbers were a harbinger of the poor offensive regular season to come.

But this year’s Spring Training numbers look very promising for the Pirates. 

As I write this, the Pirates are leading all of baseball in Spring Training home runs. I believe the national media has underestimated the impact that Oneil Cruz, Henry Davis, and an improved Ke'Bryan Hayes are going to have. And if the Pirates have solved their offensive woes from previous years, then when the young guns in the minors arrive to the major league team, the Pirates' future could be very bright. 

The question becomes: Are the numbers the Pirates are putting up this spring real?  Or are they like the numbers put up last spring by the A’s and Royals?  I believe that they are real.

Time will tell.