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Wednesday, January 18, 2006


Misunderestimation: The Pirates

I've decided to make "Misunderestimation" a series, a backhanded look at our NL Central competition, a warning to fellow prognosticators, and something of a pre-preview. Today, maybe because I'm a little pressed for time this morning, Diaspora covers the Pirates. The veritable Pittsburgh Platter of the division. Not to be overly derisive, but there is very little to underestimate about the Pirates. They don't stand to contend for the division title, and even Pirates' front office has conceded that goal. Instead, the Pirates organization is looking to tug the bootstraps a little harder and win a few more games. With some pretty good young talent filling out the ranks, that goal seems entirely possible. The biggest key to their success is Jason Bay. Through the winter, the team has traded and acquired a lineup that will afford the young phenom the best protection he has ever had. Last year the guy had 32 homers and a .961 OPS. Through the same season he had a WARP3 of 10.6 and 32 win shares. With Sean Casey and rookie Chris Duffy (a good OBP guy) in front of him and Burnitz hitting directly behind him, it stands to reason that Bay's bat will have a few additional ducks on the pond to bring home and see some decent pitches to hit with a moderate threat like Burnitz behind him. Okay, maybe I'm being a bit Pollyanna-ish on this, but Jason Bay is good, really good, the kind of player you can build teams around. He came to Pirates in the Giles trade, and given his age, Bay made that a great deal. Anyway, the Pirates stand to pick up a few wins more wins this year, and can certainly play the spoiler's role in a tight race for the division between the Cards, Cubs, or Astros.
I agree with you about Jason Bay. Not only can he mash, he's also a pretty damn good defender out in center. The guy would be a big star if he played on a more high-profile team.

I'd put the Bucs in '06 somewhere around 70-75 wins. There's a lot of talent on this team, and for whatever reason(s) I think they underachieved a bit last year.
i think you're right on for the Buc's win estimate
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