The Seattle Mariners beat the Texas Rangers 3-1 tonight, which means that the Pittsburgh Pirates have clinched the number one pick in the 2011 draft. The Pirates now get first dibs on third base prospect Anthony Rendon, the consensus top draft talent in the 2011 draft. I talked about Rendon in my early 2011 draft preview and pointed out that he draws comparisons from Baseball America to Ryan Zimmerman.
There are no guarantees here. There’s no guarantee that Rendon will be drafted by the Pirates, although I’d say the chances are very strong, especially if he shows no ill effects from his ankle injury. There’s no guarantee Rendon will make the majors and live up to his hype, although college hitters like Rendon usually have the best chance of becoming star players in the majors.
Assuming Rendon is drafted, and lives up to his potential, the Pirates could have a very nice lineup as soon as 2013, with Andrew McCutchen, Jose Tabata, Neil Walker, Pedro Alvarez, and Rendon taking up the top five spots. That doesn’t even include guys like Tony Sanchez, Starling Marte, and Chase d’Arnaud, who could fill out the lineup. That lineup could be cause for celebration for the Pirates. Because of this, let’s take a moment to say thanks to all of the 2010 Pirates who made it possible to draft Rendon:
-Akinori Iwamura: Brought in to be a stop gap at second base, Iwamura hit for a .182/.292/.267 line in 165 at-bats, before being replaced at the end of May by Neil Walker.
-Charlie Morton: Morton has a 7.94 ERA in 16 starts this season. The Pirates are 2-14 when Morton takes the mound, with one of those wins coming last week.
-Ryan Doumit: Aside from his .256/.336/.415 line, Doumit has allowed 79/90 base runners to successfully steal this season. He’s also allowed nine passed balls, with each one most likely coming on a one handed back hand attempt on a ball in the dirt on the left side of the plate.
-Garrett Jones: There was hope that Jones would build on his numbers last year and become a starter for the Pirates. His .248/.309/.413 line this year points more to him being a platoon/bench player.
-Andy LaRoche: The Pirates weren’t counting on LaRoche too much, with Pedro Alvarez arriving mid-season, but LaRoche was horrible when he was starting, with a .209/.268/.291 line this season in 244 at-bats.
-Ryan Church: For some reason, Church got 170 at-bats this season, despite his .182/.240/.312 line. He even stole playing time from Lastings Milledge in a platoon situation. It’s not a bad theory to platoon Milledge, but it’s not good when the platoon partner is worse against right handers than Milledge.
-Jeff Clement: Clement was moved to first base, and named the starter at the beginning of the year. Many questioned his defense, but his offense was the bigger problem, with a .201/.237/.368 line in 144 at-bats.
-Zach Duke: Duke is having his worst season yet, with a 5.63 ERA in 28 starts. His ratios aren’t bad, and he’s been a bit unlucky, but he’s definitely been a big factor in the Pirates getting the chance to draft Rendon.
-Paul Maholm: Like Duke, Maholm is having a bad year, with a 5.10 ERA in 32 starts. Maholm has also been unlucky, but that doesn’t change the results.
-Ross Ohlendorf’s Offense: Ross Ohlendorf had the best season among Pirates starters, with a 4.07 ERA in 21 starts. However, he posted a 1-11 record, which is very similar to Morton’s 2-11 record, despite a huge difference in the results. Ten times this season Ohlendorf has put up a quality start and finished with either a no-decision or a loss.
-Brendan Donnelly: The Pirates added Donnelly to strengthen their bullpen. He responded with a 5.58 ERA, and a 26:25 K/BB ratio in 30.2 innings before being released.
-Daniel McCutchen: McCutchen started the year as the fifth starter in the rotation. After struggling in that role he went to the minors. He returned for a few starts, but is now in the bullpen, where the results haven’t been any better. McCutchen has a 6.36 ERA in 63.2 innings this year.
-Buck Showalter: The Orioles were on pace to finish with the worst record in the league for most of the season. Then they hired Buck Showalter, and the team came to life, with a 30-21 record since Showalter took over, compared to a 32-73 record pre-Showalter.
-The Waiver Wire Wonders: Sean Gallagher, Chan Ho Park, Dana Eveland, Chris Leroux, and Hayden Penn.
-Dis-Honorable Mentions: Wilfredo Ledezma, Jack Taschner, Justin Thomas, Steven Jackson, Brian Bass, Brian Burres, Erik Kratz/Jason Jaramillo, and Bobby Crosby.
If the Pirates get Rendon, and if the 2013 team is as good as we hope it will be, due to Rendon, then the above players will have played a big role in all of this happening.