Derek Shelton embarked on his journey as the Pittsburgh Pirates' manager in 2020, stepping into a role laden with challenges, notably the unprecedented disruptions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Handpicked by General Manager Ben Cherington, Shelton faced the daunting task of guiding the team through a shortened season marked by health protocols, uncertain schedules, and the absence of a regular rhythm.
The 2020 season, altered by the pandemic, proved to be a crucible for Shelton and the Pirates. With a shortened schedule, the team faced an uphill battle, culminating in a 19-41 record. Despite the adversity, Shelton exhibited resilience, navigating uncharted waters as a first-time manager with commendable adaptability.
Over the last few seasons the Pittsburgh Pirates, under Shelton's leadership, showed signs of incremental progress. Records of 61-101 in 2021 and 62-100 in 2022 reflected a team striving for improvement. However, the 2023 season, now concluded with a final record of 76-86, reveals a continued struggle to break free from the shackles of consistent mediocrity.
The narrative of Shelton's tenure becomes entwined with the harsh reality of persistent challenges on the field. The seasons, despite the optimism and adaptability displayed, have been marred by the consistent underperformance of the team and specific players. The team was ready to let Rodolfo Castro be the second baseman of the future, instead, he found himself with a different Organization by the trade deadline. On the other hand, players like Oneil Cruz missing significant time also have an impact on a manager's record.
As the 2023-2024 offseason comes into full gear the Pittsburgh Pirates Front Office needs to set up Shelton for success.
While Shelton has been dealt a tough hand over the years, the team's top prospects are here. It is time to build around them and win.
The challenge for Shelton and the front office is to address the root causes of the team's struggles, implement necessary changes, and set a new trajectory. While things have improved the onfield product has still left a lot to be desired. If the results do not start to be better then he very well could find himself without a job at the end of 2024.