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McCutchen’s Case for NL MVP

McCutchen’s Case for NL MVP

The Pirates are still within striking distance of the second National League wild card spot with just a couple weeks left in the regular season, and have a great shot at securing the team’s first winning season in two decades. While fans with Pittsburgh Pirates tickets hold out hope for a rally into the playoffs, the season is still a successful one by almost any measure, and the source of a great deal of that success is Andrew McCutchen, who has become one of the best players in the MLB. The question is, do his numbers this year make him MVP worthy?

McCutchen has made noticeable improvement in each of his four seasons with the Pirates, and the biggest stride he made in 2012 was becoming an effective average hitter, seeing his BA climb as high as .373 in the beginning of August. While that has dropped off a little in the last two months, he is still well above the .300 mark and is one of the main contenders for the NL batting title. McCutchen also increased his home run production from previous years, and is one pace to reach 30 homers on the season. Perhaps most impressively, his current on-base percentage of .410 is second in all of baseball. By most metrics, McCutchen’s statistics place him among the most valuable players in all of baseball, and the fact that he has kept Pittsburgh in the playoff hunt for so long is a testament to his importance to his franchise.

McCutchen’s success at the plate seemed to dictate his team’s success as well, as the Pirates were at their best when McCutchen was at the top of his game, and this may be the only reason he does not walk away with the NL MVP award in the offseason. C Buster Posey is a hitting machine for the San Francisco Giants, who own a sizeable lead in the NL West, and voters tend to favor players from the teams with the best records. Other contenders for MVP include Cardinals’ catcher Yadier Molina and Brewers’ outfielder Ryan Braun, who each have offensive stats comparable to McCutchen. And while neither the Cardinals or Brewers are locked into playoffs spots, their teams have been hotter down the stretch, while McCutchen and the Pirates have cooled off considerably since a torrid June and July. In terms of the MVP race, it is always better to start slowly and finish in impressive fashion than the other way around. Regardless of how the vote turns out, McCutchen has already turned in a season for the ages, and he still has a couple weeks to pad his resume further.

Reds Eek Out Win Over Pirates To Complete Sweep

Reds Eek Out Win Over Pirates To Complete Sweep

The bad news continued for Pittsburgh Pirates fans Wednesday night as the Cincinnati Reds edged out a 2-1 win over the Bucs, completing the series sweep and bringing the recent Pirates losing streak to a disappointing six games. A.J. Burnett suffered the loss, his first against the Reds in 2012. The attitude on Wednesday was far different than previous games, with both teams remarking that the game felt like a “battle” the whole nine innings. While many Pirates fans were quick to dismiss accusations that the team was headed for their 20th consecutive losing season last month, the most recent in a string of defeats has many wondering if the Pirates are just building up the suspense. But a late season collapse certainly isn’t unprecedented, with the Bucs burying a July 53-47 record last season with a 19-43 finish.

The two series sweeps also come with more bad news — Pittsburgh Pirates tickets aren’t selling well. According to ESPN.com, the Pirates currently rank 21st in the MLB for average attendance at home. While it’s hard to ignore how much more fan support the Pirates enjoy now when compared to PNC Park’s opening in 2001, the Bucs need fan support now more than ever.

The Pirates aren’t destined for a losing finish yet, but have a sizable challenge ahead of them. In order to finish the season with a winning record, Pittsburgh will need a 9-12 record over the next 21 games. Since early August, the Bucs have completely reversed their Wild Card contention, going from 2 1/2 games up to 2 1/2 games down. The Pirates have work to do to reverse their slump this season — both in pitching which has logged a 4.43 ERA in the past 31 games and batting, hitting from .237 to .367 in the same period. The second Wild Card slot isn’t out of reach yet, but Pittsburgh will need to reverse their fortunes beginning with Friday’s afternoon game against the Cubs.

Pirates Overcome Astros to End 4-Game Losing Streak

Pirates Overcome Astros to End 4-Game Losing Streak

Should the Pirates go on to recapture their hopes of this year’s second Wild Card slot, Pittsburgh fans will have Andrew McCutchen to thank. Facing a long late-season losing streak and watching Division championship hopes fade away, the center fielder drove in three runs off four hits (his sixth four-hit game of the season, leading the MLB) to deliver half of the Pirates total runs. They went on to finish the game, 6-2. Also contributing to Pittsburgh’s defense was Wandy Rodriguez, who shutout the Astros over seven innings, allowing just four hits.

The Astros struggled with offensive production, and pitcher Jordan Lyles gave up four earned runs in just under five innings, which ultimately put the game out of reach. Two runs came late on an error when Astros second baseman Jose Altuve and shortstop Tyler Greene ran into each other trying to catch what would otherwise have been an easy fly ball. The ball slid just off the tip of Greene’s glove after the collision and two runs came in for the Pirates.

The Pirates have suffered through a slump lately, losing ten of their last 13 games. Their 5-1 loss to the Astros on Monday only increased doubts as to the Pirates’ contention for a Wild Card slot. But much of this slump can be credited to McCutchen’s recent lack of productivity. As McCutchen has improved, so too have the Pirates. If this is a sign that the center fielder is lifting out of his recent struggles, the Pirates could look down the rest of the month with plenty of wins.

Depending on how tonight’s final game in the Houston Astros series goes, the Pirates could be looking down a long tunnel with a small dot of light at the end, their playoff hopes. Pittsburgh Pirates tickets are still available for tonight’s game at 7:05 ET at PNC Park.

Pirates’ Alvarez Named NL Player of the Week

Pirates’ Alvarez Named NL Player of the Week

While the Pirates dropped to 2 1/2 games behind the Cardinals for the second Wild Card spot in a crushing 5-1 loss to Houston, there is reason for at least one Pirate to be optimistic this week. MLB Network announced today that Pedro Alvarez, third baseman for the Pittsburgh Pirates, is the National League Player of the Week for the week ending on September 2nd.

Alvarez was one of the big reasons the Pirates didn’t fall further out of contention for the playoffs last week. In only six games, he accumulated four homers (tying him for the MLB lead) and batted a third-ranked .458. Alvarez also managed a .500 on-base percentage and eight RBIs. On August 28th, Alvarez also struck two home runs in a game against the Cardinals, which gave him five career home runs, tying with Aramis Ramirez and Richie Hebner for most career multi-homer games as a third baseman.

Alvarez was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2008 MLB Draft, and sent to the Lynchburg Hillcats High-A affiliate before moving on to the Double-A team, the Altoona Curve. He was a standout hitter from the very beginning, leading the Pirates organization in both RBIs and home runs. Alvarez was quickly called up to the majors, but struggled initially with a strikeout in all of his first ten games. In response, the Pirates manager John Russell benched him for a day. Following the break, Alvarez returned to play with a huge hitting streak from late June to early July 2010. During this streak, Alvarez managed a pair of home runs, three runs scored, and four RBIs.

Alvarez and the Pirates will continue their series against the Houston Astros tonight before continuing to play the Chicago Cubs on Friday, September 7th. Pittsburgh Pirates tickets are available for all remaining games in the regular season at HeadlineTickets.com.

Pirates Dominate Cardinals in Season Comeback

Pirates Dominate Cardinals in Season Comeback

While some might have been tempted to count the Pirates out in the Wild Card race after devastating series against the Brewers and Padres, the Bucs answered back with a dominant series against the Cardinals. Over three games, the Pittsburgh Pirates lost one by a single run and locked in two shutouts for a 2-1 finish on the series. Next, the Pirates look to exact revenge against the Brewers tonight and end the month on a great note.

During Wednesday’s 5-0 victory against the Cardinals, the Pirates built off fantastic play from third baseman Pedro Alvarez, who blasted his 26th homer this year and drove in a crucial three runs to put the game well out of reach of Cardinal batters. Alvarez’s home run also shot him to seven homers and 23 RBIs in the past 15 games against the defending MLB champions. Not since Barry Bonds roamed the Three Rivers Stadium outfield have the Pirates shown more resilience and follow-through in a season. With a solid performance in September, Pittsburgh has a chance at their first playoff berth, and indeed first winning season, in nearly 20 years.

The best news coming from the Cardinals series is that the Pirates now lead St. Louis 8-7. Should the Cardinals and Pirates end the season tied for a Wild Card slot, the tie-breaking game will be played in Pittsburgh. But don’t be too quick to buy Pittsburgh Pirates tickets for the World Series, as there’s still five weeks left in regular season play. But Pirates fans hope that their squad will be able to use the momentum earned in late August to secure solid wins for the remainder of the season. The Pirates have their sights set on the playoffs, and you can be sure that the Brewers will have whole new challenges ahead of them heading into the clubs’ final series together.

Buy Pittsburgh Pirates Tickets

Buy Pittsburgh Pirates Tickets

2012 is going to be an exciting season for the Pittsburgh Pirates and fans should look to buy Pittsburgh Pirates tickets today. With the 2012 season coming into full swing shortly and PNC park ready for fans, team manager Clint Hurdle is ready to lead his team into a stellar performance. After having a season of going .444 last year, they are going to look to improve upon their record. Of course, there are other top teams in their division like the Reds, Cardinals and Astros that will also be posing themselves as contenders for doing well. Nonetheless, fans should buy Pittsburgh Pirates tickets because this team is up and coming and will deliver a great performance because the talent pool is surely there. With the new manager after the firing of John Russell, the Pirates will look to stop their losing streak of 19 years. Fans should buy Pittsburgh Pirates tickets today!

Best Pittsburgh Pirates Team of All Time

Best Pittsburgh Pirates Team of All Time

The Pittsburgh Pirates were established in 1882 and were one of the first teams to join the National League in 1887.  Since that time the team has won a total of 5 World Series Titles, led by famous players such as Roberto Clemente and Ralph Kiner.  While there were many great Pittsburgh Pirate teams throughout the franchise’s 129 year existence, there are two that are especially worth noting.

1909 Pittsburgh Pirates
The 1909 Pittsburgh Pirates won the franchise’s first World Series.  The 1909 World Series was one of the most memorable of its era as well, in which Honus Wagner of the Pirates faced off against Ty Cobb.  Wagner is considered by most baseball historians (and players) to be the greatest shortstop of all time, with a .327 career batting average and 3,415 hits to his credit.  However, both would be overshadowed by the pitching performance of rookie Babe Adams for the Pirates, who pitched three complete game six-hitters to lead the Pirates to a seven game win over the Tigers for the World Series title.

1960 Pittsburgh Pirates
Going into the 1960 World Series the Pittsburgh Pirates were seen as having now chance against the New York Yankees, with such greats as Roger Maris, Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle, and Whitey Ford leading their powerful offense and pitching rotation.  The Pirates had a couple of stars of their own at the time with Roberto Clemente and Bill Mazeroski hitting for the team.  Clemente was considered by many to be one of the best right fielders of all time, with a career batting average of .317 and 3,000 hits; Mazeroski on the other hand was considered as one of the best fielding second basemen of all time and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2001.  Even though the Yankees outscored the Pirates by an astounding margin of 55 runs to 27, including three games where the Pirates lost by at least 10 runs, they were able to pull it out in game 7 with the majestic home run by Bill Mazeroski in the ninth inning.  It still stands as the only home run hit to win a World Series in a game 7 (Joe Carter did it in game 6).

2011 Pittsburgh Pirates Season

2011 Pittsburgh Pirates Season

While the Pittsburgh Pirates have well over a decade’s worth of losing seasons, the 2011 season for the team was certainly a great surprise, especially during the first half.  With a 2010 record of 57-105 it wasn’t expected that the Pirates would make a lot of noise in 2011.  A lot of it has to do with having such a young team full of potential talent.  The offense going into the 2011 season would be placed on the shoulders of 24 year old Neil Walker, 23 year old Andrew McCutchen, and 21 year old Jose Tabata.  The starting pitching and bullpen were much the same as well, with James McDonald being converted from reliever to starting pitcher.

As the midseason came to an end in 2011 the Pittsburgh Pirates shockingly found themselves atop the National League Central with a record of 52-47.  One of the main reasons for the team’s success to the midseason point was a strong pitching rotation; the rotation had an overall ERA lower than 3.50, which was one of the best in the league at the time.  The role players mentioned earlier also stepped it up, with McCutchen earning an all-star appearance for his stellar hitting.

Unfortunately during the latter part of the regular season the starting pitching somehow lost its touch, and even with the additions of Ryan Ludwick and Derrek Lee the offense stagnated as well.  Combine these two together and you have a team that will end another season with a losing record.  However, there is much to be said of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2011.  Their starting pitching certainly showed flashes of brilliance, and if they can continue to develop alongside a young offense one can expect this team to break the losing record very soon.

PNC Park

PNC Park

PNC Park is one of the best ballparks to visit in all of Major League Baseball.  PNC Park was originally constructed in 2001 by Dick Corporation and Barton Malow, and is the fifth stadium of the Pittsburgh Pirates since the late nineteenth century.  The total cost of the stadium itself was approximately $260 million, with the owner of the park being the city of Pittsburgh.  As far as seating, PNC Park has a capacity of 38,365, with most seating available at the field and grandstand levels.

The ballpark has some truly spectacular views of downtown that one must see when visiting this stadium.  With its two-deck design practically every baseball fan can catch a great view of it and the game itself.  When visiting the stadium one can also gauge its classic feel, with such features as a brick front, a flat steel roof, and masonry throughout.  As far as other features there is the Pirates Hall of Fame, an outdoor river terrace, the River Walk, as well as many great places to eat.  In the outfield one will find a delicious barbecue restaurant run by a former player, as well as an Outback Steakhouse if one is interested in more well-known cuisine.

When it comes to the dimensions of PNC Park itself, it has a very similar configuration to what one would find in other northeastern ballparks.  The right and left field line are fairly shallow at about 320 feet, with the distance increasing to as high as 410 feet in left-center.  It certainly favors left handed hitters more than right handed, as the 320 mark in right field beckons for home run balls.  Pittsburgh Pirate pitchers should find the stadium to their liking as well.  One thing is for sure though, and that is that PNC Park is one of the well-built ballparks in all of baseball and must be visited at least once by any diehard baseball fan to truly catch the great atmosphere.

Best Pittsburgh Pirate Players of All Time

Best Pittsburgh Pirate Players of All Time

The Pittsburgh Pirates have been in existence for well over 100 years, and since the franchise’s founding in 1882 there have been numerous great players that have even won World Series titles for the team.  Unfortunately many of them played their careers a long time ago, but many should still remember their names.  As a form of reference, for this specific list only offensive players were chosen; because there are so many players that could be included in this article only 4 were chosen as well.  Without further ado here are the best Pittsburgh players of all time.

Honus Wagner
Honus Wagner is considered by many to be one of the greatest, if not the greatest, shortstop of all time.  Wagner played for the Pirates from 1900-1917, winning a World Series title for the team in 1909 (against Ty Cobb of all people).  He was most known for his hitting, with a career average of .327 and well over 3,000 hits.

Roberto Clemente
Roberto Clemente was one of the most respected Pirates in the team’s history, especially for his humanitarian roles that eventually led to his death in an aviation accident in 1972.  A winner of 12 Gold Glove Awards, Clemente played for the Pirates from 1955 to 1972 and is considered as one of the best right fielders of all time.  His offensive ability set him apart from many, and his career average of .317 and 3,000 hits put him in a very select club of hitters.  One could only imagine how much more he could have done as a Pirate was it not for the 1972 accident.

Paul Waner
Waner was one of the Pirate’s best right fielders, and a heated argument to this day still rages on as to whether Waner or Clemente were the best at their position.  Waner played for the Pirates from 1926 to 1940, and had a career batting average of .333 with over 3,000 hits.  What is even more remarkable about Waner’s feat was that he was nearsighted while playing and couldn’t see the baseball all too well.  Waner was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1952.

Willie Stargell
Lastly, one cannot forget about the late Willie Stargell.  Stargell played for the Pirates from 1962 to 1982 and won two World Series titles with the team in 1971 and 1979.  He finished his career as a .282 hitter with nearly 500 home runs, at 475.  He was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1988 and his statue reminds visitors at PNC Park of what this great hitter did for the ballclub.

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