Pirates Offseason Notes 11/24/15

19 weeks until Opening Day…

You can check out last week’s offseason notes HERE.

2016 Schedule

— To accommodate ESPN’s effort to televise a number of 2016’s Opening Day games, the Pirates-Cardinals opener has been moved up a day to Sunday, April 3rd. First pitch will be at 1:05 at PNC Park, marking the first game of the MLB season. Opposed to just the traditional Sunday night game on the season’s first day, Pirates-Cards will be one of three (Blue Jays-Rays at 4:00; Mets-Royals at 8:00).

— It was also officially announced that the Pirates and Marlins will play two games in San Juan, Puerto Rico on May 30 and 31 to honor the legacy of Roberto Clemente.

— The Pirates’ spring training schedule was released. Grapefruit League play begins on Tuesday, March 1st. The Pirates will wrap-up spring ball with an exhibition against the Reds in Indianapolis on Saturday, April 2nd.

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Series Preview: Pirates vs. Cardinals

Pirates vs Cardinals

Pittsburgh Pirates (13-15)


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


Follow us on Twitter @ForbesToFederal.

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 — at least three teams 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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