Series Preview: Pirates vs. Cardinals

Pirates vs Cardinals

Pittsburgh Pirates (13-15)

vs.

St. Louis Cardinals (21-7)

Friday, May 8th — 7:05 pm
Saturday, May 9th — 7:05 pm
Sunday, May 10th — 1:35 pm

PNC Park — Pittsburgh, PA

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Finally the Pirates picked up a W on Thursday night, waking up the bats for a seven-run showing and stopping a five-game losing skid. It may not get any easier, however, with the 21-7 St. Louis Cardinals coming to town this weekend. The Redbirds, as you’ll remember, swept the Bucs in STL last weekend with three one-run, extra-inning defeats. Let’s hope for a little better fortune this time around.

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Series Preview: Pirates @ Cardinals

Pirates vs Cardinals

Pittsburgh Pirates (12-10)

@

St. Louis Cardinals (15-6)

Friday, May 1st — 8:15 pm
Saturday, May 2nd — 2:15 pm
Sunday, May 3rd — 2:15 pm

Busch Stadium — St. Louis, MO

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The Pirates wrap up their long road trip with a three-day stay in St. Louis. The first place Cardinals play host, currently tied for MLB’s most wins at 15. They lost their ace, Adam Wainwright, for the season, but are rolling offensively and put three of their solid right-handers on the mound this weekend.

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Strengths & Weaknesses Within the NL Central

pittsburgh pirates st louis cardinals

After a long, cold winter, we’re getting awfully close to Opening Day 2015. The National League Central looks to be one of the more competitive divisions in baseball this season — all five teams could hang around for a while, and at least three might be vying for a postseason spot come September.

This division has a lot of intriguing players who will put their respective teams in a position to compete. FanGraphs did a rundown of their positional rankings last week, ranking how all 30 teams stack up position-by-position based on wins above replacement projections. Team WAR totals by position can be found HERE. While there isn’t a perfect correlation, their WAR projections are typically a strong indicator of success, as Jeff Sullivan wrote in December.

Using FG’s depth charts/team WAR totals, I broke each position on each team into percentiles (based on all of MLB) and displayed the NL Central on some radar charts below. Each position includes bench playing time — for example, the Pirates’ projected wins above replacement at second base isn’t just Neil Walker; it’s Walker (2.9 WAR in 525 PA), Jung-Ho Kang (0.4 WAR in 140 PA), and Sean Rodriguez (0.1 WAR in 21 PA).

Let’s take a look, starting with our Bucs…

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FanGraphs’ 2015 Projected Standings & Playoff Probabilities

clint hurdle postseason

FanGraphs has posted their projected standings and preseason playoff probabilities for the 2015 season. Their model is based on Steamer & ZiPS projections as well as their team depth charts, ultimately simulating the season 10,000 times and observing the results.

Last year, they accurately projected the final NL Central standings…

fangraphs projected nl central standings 2014

…as well as the NL Wild Card matchup, giving the Pirates and Giants the best preseason odds for the do-or-die game.

So, here’s what the numbers say for 2015:

fangraphs projected nl central standings 2015

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Now & Later: Which MLB teams feature the most top talent?

andrew mccutchen batting

If you followed MLB Network’s annual “Top 10: Right Now” features this year, you’ll know the Pirates ranked very well. With “The Shredder,” they again objectively named the best major league players at each position. Subjectively, I can say some of the rankings were questionable (Pirates included). But they’re still fun to think about, and there’s not much else going on in the final days before spring training.

MLB.com also recently finished up their top 10 position-by-position lists for the minor league side of things. If you recall their top 100 we wrote a little bit about, the Bucs are doing well in the farm system as well.

So why not compare all of the lists and see which organizations are loaded with the most talent? The positions are a little different (MLB uses all three outfield positions and starter/reliever; MiLB has just outfield and right-handed pitchers/left-handed pitchers), but we’ll go with it.

The method: if a team has the #1 player at a position, they get 10 points; #2 player gets 9 points; #3 gets 8; and so on. We’ll keep it simple for now — everything on the same scale, even though the best at one position may not be as valuable as the best at another position.

Here are the results…

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