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…

Continue reading “Now & Later: Which MLB teams feature the most top talent?”

Series Preview: Pirates @ Nationals

Pirates vs Nationals

Pittsburgh Pirates (64-57)

@

Washington Nationals (66-53)

Friday, August 15th – 7:05 pm
Saturday, August 16th – 7:05 pm
Sunday, August 17th – 5:05 pm

PNC Park – Pittsburgh, PA

BUY TICKETS

Follow us on Twitter @ForbesToFederal.

After dropping two in a row in Detroit and falling back to third place, the Pirates head to our nation’s capital to take on the NL East-leading Washington Nationals. The Bucs have a grasp on the second Wild Card spot for now, a half-game behind St. Louis and a half-game ahead of San Francisco.

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Probable Pitchers

Friday – Charlie Morton vs. Tanner Roark

Saturday – Jeff Locke vs. Gio Gonzalez

Sunday – Edinson Volquez vs. Doug Fister

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News, Notes, Storylines

– Nationals at home: 34-24 … Pirates on the road: 25-33

– Washington has a solid six-game lead on the second place Braves, who will be in Pittsburgh on Monday.

– The Pirates took three of four from the Nats at PNC earlier this season, and are 14-6 against NL East opponents overall in 2014.

Jordy Mercer left yesterday’s game with right forearm tightness and will miss tonight’s series opener. It sounds like he could be out for a while… This ends his streak of 49 straight games started at shortstop for the Bucs, the longest streak since Jack Wilson‘s 96 in a row back in 2005.

– DL updates: Clint Barmes started a rehab assignment with Altoona last night, going 0-for-3 … Gerrit Cole will make (hopefully his last) rehab start tonight
with Indy.

– The Racing Presidents were at PNC in May, which means the Pierogies will be down in DC this weekend.

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Opponent Blogs

Federal Baseball | The Nats Blog | Citizens of Natstown | Red Porch Report

What they’re saying:

[quote_simple]”McCutchen’s absence is likely a relief for the Nationals, considering that the 27-year-old outfielder has a Stanton-in-D.C.-esque .367/.435/.750 line with six doubles, two triples and 13 HRs in 34 games and 147 career PAs against the Nationals in his career with a .345/.393/.764 line, four doubles, two triples and five home runs in 14 games and 61 PAs in Nationals Park.” – Federal Baseball[/quote_simple]

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Players to Watch

players to watch

Pedro Alvarez, Neil Walker, John Axford.

– Pedro did not look good in four at-bats on Thursday, but Tim Neverett noted on the broadcast that El Toro could make his first base debut at some point this weekend. He’ll play third base on Friday night, but keep an eye out for that.

– If you’re tired of watching Jayson Nix & Michael Martinez play second base, you’re not alone. Neil Walker, who’s made all of two starts this month due to back pains, is finally back in the starting lineup on Friday night.

– Of course, there will be a new Bucco in black & gold tonight — that’s John Axford. Look for him to get some work this weekend (he hasn’t pitched since last Friday).

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Prediction Time

With the second-best record (and best run differential, +89) in the NL, the Nats are a dangerous team… Tanner Roark and Doug Fister have been really good; Bryce Harper’s starting to heat up a bit (6-for-19 with two homers this week); Adam LaRoche is on his usual second half tear (.319 with a 1.109 OPS in August); Denard Span just had his 34-game on-base streak end a few days ago; etc. … Washington takes two of three here.

Go Bucs

Series Preview: Pirates vs. Nationals

Pirates vs Nationals

Pittsburgh Pirates (19-26)

vs.

Washington Nationals (24-22)

Thursday, May 22nd – 7:05 pm
Friday, May 23rd – 7:05 pm
Saturday, May 24th – 7:15 pm
Sunday, May 25th – 1:35 pm

PNC Park – Pittsburgh, PA

BUY TICKETS

Follow us on Twitter @ForbesToFederal.

Big weekend for the Bucs, as they host the Washington Nationals for four. The Nats are banged up right now, and the Pirates can’t afford to slide any further below .500.

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Probable Pitchers

Thursday – Edinson Volquez vs. Blake Treinen

Friday – Charlie Morton vs. Jordan Zimmermann

Saturday – Gerrit Cole vs. Stephen Strasburg

Sunday – Francisco Liriano vs. Doug Fister

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News, Notes, Storylines

– Goodbye, Wandy Rodriguez.

– The Bucs claimed Josh Wall off waivers and DFA’d Phil Irwin.

Russell Martin was activated from the disabled list, but needs to serve his one-game suspension. Should see him Friday night. Jason Grilli is looking to come back from the DL on Saturday. Expect Tony Sanchez to go back to Indy.

– Saturday’s game will be televised on FOX … Decent pitching matchup that night. Here’s the coverage map:

pirates nationals coverage map

– The injury bug is flying around MLB. Nationals are without Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman, Adam LaRoche, and Gio Gonzalez, among others.

– PNC Park promotions this weekend: Friday – Free Shirt; Saturday – Pedro Alvarez bobblehead night; Sunday – Kids Day / Andrew McCutchen kids wristbands.

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Opponent Blogs

Federal Baseball | The Nats Blog | Nats Insider

What they’re saying:

[quote_simple]”Treinen faces a Pirates lineup that exploded for nine runs last night against Chris Tillman and the Orioles, and he faces one guy in particular who has absolutely killed the Nationals pitching staff over the years: Andrew McCutchen. In 30 career games against Washington, the reigning NL MVP has merely hit .395 with a .458 on-base percentage, .825 slugging percentage, 13 homers and 26 RBI. Suffice it to say, the Nats would be wise to try to keep this guy off base all weekend.” – Nats Insider[/quote_simple]

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Player to Watch

Ike Davis. The Bucs’ new first baseman has done some good things at the plate since his arrival, hitting .286 with an .817 OPS. He’s pounding the ball in May, after tacking on three more hits last night. Ike’s numbers since the All-Star break last year: .277/.417/.460 in 262 plate appearances. Gotta like the deal so far… Pairing his .312/.429/.484 vs. RHP and Gaby Sanchez‘s .321/.345/.607 vs. LHP is a platoon you can get behind. 

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Prediction Time

Going out on a limb and saying Pirates take three of four. They NEED to win these games. Even if they do take the series, they’d still be five games under .500 heading on a long roadtrip. Be nice to pick up the W’s now.

Go Bucs

Game #100: Nationals 9, Pirates 7

The Pirates looked for a series sweep on Thursday afternoon in DC. While they came up short, they didn’t go down without a fight.

A.J. Burnett gave up four runs in the first inning, although only one of them was earned. The Bucco defense has been sharp all season, but three costly errors by Pedro Alvarez, Gaby Sanchez, and Jordy Mercer put them in an early hole.

The Bucs started chipping away in the fourth inning, as Burnett helped his own cause with an RBI groundout.

Two innings later, Josh Harrison (of all people) belted a two-run homer. More on J-Hay in a bit.

With their lead down to one run, the Nationals appeared to pull away in the eighth inning with three runs off Vin Mazzaro. Steve Lombardozzi lined a ground-rule double to bring home Roger Bernadina, then Adam LaRoche knocked in two more with a triple that slipped under Travis Snider and rolled to the wall.

However, the Pirates weren’t dead just yet. Nats closer Rafael Soriano – who hadn’t pitched in five days – entered the game, even though it was a non-save situation. Here’s how the crazy top of the ninth played out:

Neil Walker walked.
Starling Marte walked.
Jordy Mercer doubled, Walker scored. 7-4
Andrew McCutchen struck out.
Russell Martin singled, Marte scored. 7-5
Ian Krol replaced Soriano –
Pedro Alvarez walked (bases loaded).
Jose Tabata struck out.
Josh Harrison singled, Mercer & Martin scored. 7-7
Garrett Jones struck out.

Huge four-run comeback for the Bucs, and how about Josh Harrison? Two-out, two-run single to tie the ballgame.

Unfortunately, the Pirates’ comeback was wasted in the bottom half of the ninth. Bryce Harper hit his first career walk-off home run, a two-run shot off of Bryan Morris. Nats win, 9-7.

Tough one to lose, but you have to appreciate the fight they showed in the ninth inning. Still a good series win in Washington.

Pirates (60-40) – Nationals (49-53)

Win: Krol (1-0)
Loss: Morris (4-4)

BOX SCORE

Go Bucs

Game #98: Pirates 5, Nationals 1

The Bucs guaranteed themselves at least a series split in DC on Tuesday night with another win over the Nats.  Gerrit Cole, making his eighth career start, collected as many hits at the dish as he gave up on the mound, which just added to his impressive showing.

After loading the bases against Taylor Jordan in the second, two run-scoring groundouts put the Pirates up 2-0.  That brought up Cole with the bases loaded, and he came through with an RBI-knock, picking up his third ribbie of the season.  To Jordan’s credit, he bounced back after the second and pitched very efficiently for the rest of his outing.  He began the eighth inning with just 88 pitches thrown, but served up an opposite-field jack to Pedro Alvarez and then was later charged with a fifth run when Gaby Sanchez came through with a pinch-hit double after Jordan exited the game.

Cole was equally as efficient in his seven innings of work – giving up just two hits, one of which was a solo home run off the bat of Wilson Ramos.  And the strategy that has worked so well for the Bucs this season, starter going seven innings and then Melancon and Grilli for the final two, was applied on Tuesday night as well.  But a little differently this time.  With Grilli on the DL for at least 15 days, Bryan Morris took over the eighth inning as Mark Melancon closed it out in the ninth.  Same result, just different mixed up a little bit.

After scuffling a bit coming out of the break, this little win streak is a nice way to bounce back.  The Pirates will go for their 60th win on Wednesday and also look to push the winning streak to four.

Pirates (59-39) – Nationals (48-52)

Win: Cole (5-3)
Loss: Jordan (0-3)

BOX SCORE

carlton-banks

Go Bucs