Pittsburgh Pirates 2021 Season Preview

Story posted March 30, 2021 in Sports, CommRadio by Jonathan Draeger

The Pittsburgh Pirates finished last season with the worst record in baseball, which evidently landed them the first overall pick in the upcoming 2021 MLB draft.

Their 19-41 record led to the dismantling of the core pieces of the franchises. Players like first baseman Josh Bell and pitchers Jameson Taillon, Trevor Williams, and Joe Musgrove all left the team via trade or free agency.

The rebuild the Pirates are currently facing is at its beginning stages, and it starts with rookie Ke’Bryan Hayes as its center point. The third baseman has been praised as a top rookie coming into the 2021 season, but the supporting cast around him may need to step up if the Pirates want to find a way to win this season.

The Buccos need a lot of help from returning contributors, and so far in Spring Training, shortstop Kevin Newman and second baseman Adam Frazier have turned heads. The two infielders have managed to bat over .500 over the course of their tenure in Bradenton, Florida.

Alongside this power trio, the Pirates have veteran experience to boost their youthful lineup with the addition of third baseman Todd Frazier. The former home run derby champion got into a groove in spring training with a .250 batting average, six RBIs and three home runs. He joins the Bucs on a minor-league deal.

Along with the Toddfather himself, Pittsburgh keeps outfielder Gregory Polanco and infielder Colin Moran as players who have been familiar with the organization for a few seasons. They know how to run the ship and play the Pirate way.

This season may be a make-or-break year for manager Derek Shelton, who now serves his second year with the Pirates as the captain of this ship. His first year of being a major league manager had its ups and downs, but he should get the hang of things this time around.

The Pirates’ schedule consists of a tough crusade against their NL Central foes and the competition from the rest of the divisions in their conference. It goes without saying that Pittsburgh will have to exceed expectations if it wants even a slim shot to win the Commissioner’s Trophy.

The NL Central looks to become a strong division with acquisitions like third baseman Nolan Arenado to the St. Louis Cardinals and Jackie Bradley Jr. to the Milwaukee Brewers. The Chicago Cubs and the Cincinnati Reds also have potent enough squads to make a run for the division title.

The Pirates must bring their A game everyday to stay competitive. However, they are in the beginning stages of their rebuild, which means they are far more likely to accrue lottery picks for upcoming drafts than compete for any titles this season.

Owner Bob Nutting and general manager Ben Cherington have put a plan in place by tanking for a prosperous future. The early stages of this rebuild began back in 2019 with the firing of general manager Neal Huntington and a few more front office personnel after a collapse during the second half of the 2019 season.

Because the rebuild is in the early stages, there probably won’t be much success on the baseball diamond as a result. The Pirates on-field product needs work, especially with the bats in a home-run-heavy league. Pittsburgh may need a flash or two in the grease pan to get this team rolling.

Record Prediction: 65-97

 

Jonathan Draeger is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. You can contact him at jrd6052@psu.edu.