The Pittsburgh Pirates had an interesting offseason, one that has caused the fan base to become very angry. They traded their best pitcher and most popular player, didn’t sign one free agent and lowered payroll. Let’s just say the PR department didn’t have a great winter. But that doesn’t mean the team will stink; management believes this team is still a contender. Will they contend? Maybe. Here’s some crazy (and not so crazy) predictions:
1) Gregory Polanco will hit 20 home runs and steal 20 bases
Polanco had a terrible season last year, hitting only 11 home runs and stealing 8 bases, but that was because he was hampered by hamstring injuries all year. This year he should be healthy and show why he was one of the top prospects in baseball a few years ago.
2) Josh Bell will have a sophomore slump
That doesn’t mean he’ll have a bad year; it just means he won’t hit 26 home runs like he did last year. Look for him to hit 20-25 home runs but have a higher batting average.
3) Felipe Rivero will be one of the best relievers in baseball
Rivero had 21 saves last year as he took over the closer role from Tony Watson. This year, there’s no doubt who will be closing games. Look for him to dominate the 9th inning with an ERA around 2.00 and get at least 35 saves.
4) Starling Marte will have a better year
This isn’t exactly a bold prediction as 2017 was marred by an 80-game drug suspension. Look for him to do about the same as he did after the suspension – not many home runs but a lot of stolen bases.
5) Joe Musgrove will have more wins than Jameson Taillon
Just a hunch, but Musgrove will make the most his return to the starting rotation. Taillon will have a nice year and stay healthy.
6) Colin Moran is not the next Mike Schmidt
Don’t look for big power numbers from Moran. He should hit 15-20 home runs in his first full season in the majors.
7) The Pirates will contend for a wild card spot, for a while
There will be times when the team is within striking distance of a wild card spot, but in July if they’re not close, management will decide to have a fire sale and trade veterans David Freese, Josh Harrison, Ivan Nova and Fransisco Cervelli. They will end up with a record of 74-88.