Old Pirates Commercials: Every Day is Game Day

Found a few incredible Pirates commercials from way back when and decided to put them into a single video. It includes four TV spots the Bucs used a decade ago with their “Every Day is Game Day” branding. Lloyd McClendon tells it like it is; Tike Redman has some fun on a Slip ‘N Slide; Jason Bay robs a dog of a frisbee; Jason Kendall does a little spring cleaning. Enjoy:

Anyone else remember these? Pretty hilarious stuff. As the Post-Gazette aptly wrote above an article regarding the commercials in March of ’04: “If we aren’t that good, at least we’re funny.” The team finished 72-89 that year, 32.5 games out of first place.

Go Bucs

Pittsburgh Pirates Single Season Team: PNC Park Era

Pittsburgh Pirates single season team

Last week, there were some interesting posts on Bucs Dugout and Eye on Baseball which featured the Pirates’ “All-Time Single Season Team.” They both ranked the best single seasons in team history, position-by-position.

Since the lists mainly consisted of players before our time (with the exception of Cutch), I figured I’d recognize some of the best individual seasons in recent memory by doing a similar list for the PNC Park era.

We did something along the same lines last winter, ranking the top ten Pirates since PNC opened. This is a little different in that it’ll go by position and depend solely on single season success.

To do it as simply as possible, I used FanGraphs’ WAR to be the judge. Whether or not you’re a fan of WAR, it’s still an all-encompassing stat that will give us an idea of who was the best at each spot.

So, here they are, the best Pittsburgh Pirates of the last 13 years, 2001 – 2013…

Catcher: Jason Kendall, 2004 = 4.7 WAR

No surprise here. An all-around solid backstop, Kendall had a nice year in 2004, his last season as a Pirate. He was a tough out, hitting .317 with a .399 OBP and a low 6.2 K%. From behind the dish, Kendall threw out runners at a 36% rate.

Honorable mention: The 2003 version of Kendall was pretty good, too (4.3 WAR). And how about Russell Martin? His 2013 was worth 4.3 wins above replacement.

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First BaseGarrett Jones, 2009 = 2.7 WAR

The fact that Jones was much more valuable over 82 games than any other first baseman in the last 13 years shows how much the Pirates have struggled at the position. And it’s still a weakness.

G.I. Jones broke into the bigs in July of ’09, hitting .293 with 23 homers and a .938 OPS. Besides a nice showing in 2012, Jones never reached those heights again, but he was at least productive enough to make a career out of it. He picked up a two-year, $7.75 million deal from Miami this winter.

Honorable mention: Adam LaRoche (2007) and Matt Stairs (2003) tied for second in WAR at 1.9. Really not much there; serious lack of talent overall.

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Second BaseFreddy Sanchez, 2005/2007 = 2.8 WAR

“Steady Freddy” was just a solid hitter for Bucs through the mid-2000’s. His best year was in 2006 when he won the NL batting title, but that was when he was over at 3B (more on that in a second).

Honorable mention: Neil Walker‘s last three seasons, in order, are right behind Sanchez. If he can stay healthy for a full year, maybe get a little luckier with the BABIP, maybe hit a little bit more from the right-side, I could see him being a 3-win player.

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Third BaseAramis Ramirez, 2001 = 4.7 WAR

A-Ram opened PNC with a bang, hitting .300/.350/.536 with 34 HR and 112 RBI in the stadium’s inaugural season.

Honorable mention: As previously mentioned, Sanchez had a great 2006 over at third base, but Ramirez just beat out his 4.5 WAR.

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ShortstopJack Wilson, 2004 = 4.4 WAR

Wilson was an All-Star and Silver Slugger in ’04, hitting .308/.335/.459 with a league-leading 12 triples. Jack Flash entertained with the glove on a nightly basis, as he saved 11 runs and posted an 8.0 UZR.

Honorable mention: Wilson in ’07, ’05, and ’09… then Jordy Mercer last year at 1.4 WAR. Shortstop has been a huge area of weakness for the Pirates since Jack left.

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Left FieldBrian Giles, 2002 = 6.8 WAR

Take a moment to take in these incredible numbers: .298/.450/.622, 38 HR, 103 RBI. That insane .450 on-base percentage ranked second in the league, only behind … Barry Bonds at .582.

Honorable mention: The man who replaced him/was acquired for him, Jason Bay, had a few great years. Starling Marte was pretty good last year at 4.5 WAR.

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Center Field: Andrew McCutchen, 2013 = 8.2 WAR

Not even close here. MVP.

Honorable mention: Pretty much every season of Cutch, plus Nate McLouth (2008), etc.

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Right Field: Reggie Sanders, 2003 = 2.9 WAR

Another position that hasn’t been too kind to the Bucs. Sanders hit the ball well in 2003, though: .285 average, .913 OPS, 31 homers. It was his only season in Pittsburgh.

Honorable mention: Xavier Nady? Craig Wilson? Again, not much there.

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Starting Pitchers (Leaderboard)

Oliver Perez, 2004 = 4.4 WAR

A.J. Burnett, 2013 = 4.0 WAR

Ian Snell, 2007 = 3.1 WAR

Francisco Liriano, 2013 = 3.1 WAR

Todd Ritchie, 2001 = 3.0 WAR

Honorable mention: Paul Maholm, Zach Duke.

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Relief Pitchers (Leaderboard)

Mark Melancon, 2013 = 2.5 WAR

Joel Hanrahan, 2011 = 1.7 WAR

Matt Capps, 2007 = 1.7 WAR

Mike Gonzalez, 2004 = 1.6 WAR

Josias Manzanillo, 2001 = 1.6 WAR

Jason Grilli, 2013 = 1.5 WAR

Salomon Torres, 2004 = 1.2 WAR

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Thoughts? Let us know.

Go Bucs

Throwback Thursday: Pirates open PNC Park

Each Thursday from now until the start of the season, we will post a “throwback” video from the pirates.com archives.

On April 9th, 2001, Pittsburgh began a new era of Pirates baseball with the opening of PNC Park. Here’s former managing general partner Kevin McClatchy delivering a first pitch to Bucs’ catcher Jason Kendall:

In four days, the 13th year of Bucco baseball will begin at PNC.

Go Bucs

Previous Editions:
Stanley Cup Visits PNC Park
Ward Meets the Wall
Cordova, Rincon No-Hit Houston
Giles Climbs the Wall
Cutch’s Three-Homer Night

Bucs Turn a Triple Play in Cincy
Kendall Leaps to Score
Mackowiak’s Walk-Off Grand Slam
Mesa’s 300th Save

Jack Flash’s Slick Double Play
Giles’ Walk-Off Grand Slam

Throwback Thursday: Kendall Leaps to Score

Each Thursday from now until the start of the season, we will post a “throwback” video from the pirates.com archives.

On April 24th, 1998, the Pirates were in San Diego to take on the Padres. The Bucs were down 1-0 entering the sixth inning, but took the lead on a two-RBI double by catcher Jason Kendall. After advancing on a groundout, Kendall stood on third base with Turner Ward at the dish. Ward hit a grounder to first base; Mark Sweeney‘s throw home forced Friars’ backstop Carlos Hernandez to lunge for the ball. What ensued was a legendary leap by Kendall to put the Buccos ahead, 3-1. Check it out:

39 days until Opening Day.

Go Bucs

Previous Editions:
Stanley Cup Visits PNC Park
Ward Meets the Wall
Cordova, Rincon No-Hit Houston
Giles Climbs the Wall
Cutch’s Three-Homer Night

Bucs Turn a Triple Play in Cincy

Top Ten Pirates of the PNC Park Era: #4 Jason Kendall

Kendall

Year Age G R H HR RBI BA OPS
1996 22 130 54 124 3 42 .300 .773
1997 23 144 71 143 8 49 .294 .825
1998 24 149 95 175 12 75 .327 .884
1999 25 78 61 93 8 41 .332 .939
2000 26 152 112 185 14 58 .320 .882
2001 27 157 84 161 10 53 .266 .693
2002 28 145 59 154 3 44 .283 .706
2003 29 150 84 191 6 58 .325 .815
2004 30 147 86 183 3 51 .319 .789
PIT (9 yrs) 1252 706 1409 67 471 .306 .805

Jason Kendall is known as one of the best Pirates catchers in the past half century, and put up some of his best numbers while behind the plate at PNC Park.  He only hit below .280 once in his time with the Bucs, and was usually at the top of the order because of his knack for getting on base.  Kendall was one of the best defensive catchers in the game with the Bucs.  He consistently had a high CS% and had a great arm, while other defensive sabermetric stats put him right up there with Pudge Rodriguez, Mike Piazza, and other great catchers of the era.  Overall, Kendall was known as a gritty player who was great behind the plate, never wore batting gloves, had a goofy stance, and got beaned a ton.  He had limited success after he left the Pirates, but his time here in Pittsburgh was certainly memorable, especially at PNC Park.

Photo: Steve Paluch/Creative Commons