The LT Profits Group continue to provide profiles for every team before opening day of the 2016 season to help with your MLB picks, and today they profile the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The 2016 MLB season is just over four weeks away as it begins with three games Sunday, April 3rd, with the rest of the league starting Monday, April 4th. In an attempt to help with your MLB picks, we are presenting team profiles for all 30 Major League Baseball teams before opening day, and today we profile the Pittsburgh Pirates, who finished in second place in the National League Central in 2015 at 98-64 before losing to the Chicago Cubs in the Wild Card Playoff.
To begin, here is a summary of the Pittsburgh betting statistics for the 2015 season. Note that these stats are always for regular season games only and that the units won or lost are based on betting one unit every game, with those units and Over/Under records based on the closing lines from Pinnacle.
Pittsburgh Pirates 2015 Betting Stats
Unfortunately for both the Pirates and the Chicago Cubs, the three best records in the entire Major Leagues last season all resided in the National League Central, meaning that the Pirates had to settle for a wild card berth where they lost to the third place Cubs despite owning the second best record in the majors! Pittsburgh was a great bet all year regardless, with the +21.35 units won overall being the third best in baseball.
Next up, we move on to the Pirates’ statistical summary for the 2015 season.
2015 Pittsburgh Pirates Team Statistics
|Runs per Game||4.30||11th|
The Pirates still boast a former MVP in Andrew McCutchen on offense, but the real key to their success last season was great pitching. The top of the starting rotation was excellent with Gerrit Cole going 19-8 with a 2.60 ERA at the age of 24 and Francisco Liriano pitching much better than his 12-7 record as a had a 3.38 ERA and better than a strikeout per inning. And then there was the bullpen that led the Major Leagues in pen ERA, led by closer Mark Melancon.
2016 Pittsburgh Pirates World Series Futures
The Pirates are actually the third choice among the National League Central teams this year, as the oddsmakers could be a bit concerned about the Pittsburgh pitching staff overachieving last year, both in the back end of the starting rotation after Cole and Liriano and in the bullpen basically as a whole. Pitching coach Ray Searage has drawn rave reviews since taking over the job, but we may see what his true worth really is this season.
2016 Pittsburgh Pirates Batting Forecast
To the surprise of no one, McCutchen has the best projected WAR on the team this year according to the ZiPS projections at 6.0, and keep in mind that number is actually being held down by a negative defensive rating. So when it comes to pure hitting, McCutchen should again be among the very best in the National League.
After that, Sterling Marte projects to close to 20 homers, 70 RBI and a 4.0 WAR, and then there is Jung-ho Kang, who came out of nowhere last year and was having a great year until suffering a torn meniscus and fractured tibia. Kang could miss most of April as his is still recovering, so his ZiPS projects him to have about 495 plate appearances, but that is still good enough to give him around 15 homers and 60 RBI with a 2.7 WAR.
2016 Pittsburgh Pirates Pitching Forecast
There is no reason to doubt the Big Two of Cole and Liriano, but it is the rest of the rotation that remains in question. There has been a bit of an overhaul there with A.J. Burnett and J.A. Happ now departed and replaced by Jon Niese and Ryan Vogelsong. Still, is that really an upgrade after Burnett and Happ combined for around a 5.0 WAR last season?
As for the bullpen, Melancon and Tony Watson are probably the real deal, but the rest of the pen may have difficulty matching its 2015 numbers. The Pirates did add another body into the mix by signing Juan Nicasio for a cheap $3 million after the Dodgers failed to tender him.