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Monday, December 5, 2022

First Pitch: So This is What the Other Side of The Collapse Looks Like

Pittsburgh Pirates fans are familiar with a second half collapse.

The 2011 team was contending in July, thanks mostly to a weak division. That team wasn’t really a strong contender, and ended up fading down the stretch. The 2012 team was much better than the 2011 team, which made the second half collapse even worse.

We may be seeing The Collapse from the other side of the equation this year. At the end of June, the Milwaukee Brewers were 51-33 and had a 6.5 game lead in the NL Central. They were eight games up over the Pirates. It looked like they were going to run away with the NL Central, leaving everyone else competing for the Wild Card spot. Since that time, they’ve gone 26-38, which is a .406 winning percentage. To put that in comparison, the Pirates had a .378 winning percentage the final three months of the 2011 season, and a .435 winning percentage in 2012 (although they were good in July, and horrible the final two months).

The Brewers might not be collapsing as much as the Pirates did in 2011-12, but the effect is the same. Milwaukee has gone from a 6.5 game lead in the Central to falling 1.5 games back from the second Wild Card spot.

Meanwhile, the Pirates are doing the opposite of a collapse. They were 42-40 at the end of June, sitting eight games back in the NL Central and two games back from the second Wild Card spot. Now they’re sitting 2.5 games back in the NL Central and 1.5 games up in the second Wild Card spot.

The Pirates are doing a lot of this by beating up on the teams they should be beating — specifically the teams with losing records. That’s not automatic, as we saw with the Cardinals against the Reds last week, and as we’ve seen with Milwaukee in the second half. I’m not sure if their success will translate over against contending teams. I don’t know if beating the Cubs and Phillies means they’ll be able to make a run in the playoffs. What I do know is that it’s nice to see things from the other side of The Collapse, after watching it happen two years in a row, and then watching Pirates fans living in fear of it all season in 2013. It’s nice that the Pirates are on the right side of this type of situation.

Links and Notes

**Pirates’ Offense Continues to Lead the Way

**John Holdzkom Quickly Earns Clint Hurdle’s Trust in the Late Innings

**Pirates Have Four Baseball America 2014 Minor League All-Stars

**Playoff Odds: Pirates Getting Hot at the Right Time

**Morning Report: What Happens When You Get Drafted by a Winter League Team?

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Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.


Pirates Prospects has been independently owned and operated since 2009, entirely due to the support of our readers. The site is now completely free, funded entirely by user support. By supporting the site, you are supporting independent writers, one of the best Pittsburgh Pirates communities online, and our mission for the most complete Pirates coverage available.

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My superstitious nature gets very nervous at articles / comment sections like this :(. I’ll try and knock on enough wood for all of you, lol


I’ve been saying for months that the sewers reminded me of the 2012 pirates. (Good team,no depth.) And were probably going to have similar results down the strech. Looks like that is the case.

Andy Prough

I wish they would pick up Rod Barajas out of retirement to catch for them the final few weeks of the season. That would be the icing on the cake.


It is nice that the games mean something – but this will go down in my mind as a season that could have been really great and wasn’t. The Division was there for the taking. Folks want to talk about Buc adversity – but St Louis has had it’s share too. Milwaukee has not played very well for months and the Reds have also had their share of key injuries. The opportunity to get to the post season without having to win a wildcard game was there. Not adding an arm at the trade deadline was close to criminal. Not dealing with the black hole at first base borders on criminal. Not facing the fact that 4 of 8 positions are being manned by sub-par defenders and doing something about it never gets anyones attention – but believe me, when the Pirates try and sign a top or rotation starter in the off season – as they should – every agent they talk to will know that Walker stinks at second – first is not very good – and only one outfielder is a plus defender.

Lukas Sutton

Yeah Walker stinks, 1B was a black hole, 4 of 8 position players are sub par defenders and only 1 OFer is a plus defender. One question, where do you get your drugs and can i have some? You present a litany of opinion that is backed by 0 fact and given off as the gospel. You are a moron and i dont apologize for saying that. Cutch and Marte are both overall above average defenders and Polanco profiles as a plus defender (you know, since using SSS is dumb and he was a fantastic defender his entire minor league career) and the infield has a quality left side of the infield. Walker isnt great, but acting like teams will go “yeah, that team that finishes 15 games over .500 and has resurrected the careers of at least 3 SP aint good enough for me” is at best ignorant. Every agent will know they have a young and more athletic outfield than almost any other, play in one of the best pitching parks in the bigs and had a top 2 offense in the NL. That is all based on stats, not conjecture.


“but believe me, when the Pirates try and sign a top or rotation starter in the off season – as they should – every agent they talk to will know that Walker stinks at second – first is not very good – and only one outfielder is a plus defender.”
I don’t believe you.


Walker is one of my favorite Pirates – I paid for an autographed shirt – but he is not a good defensive 2nd baseman. I don’t think I ever said Mercer was bad – he is not a liability at SS anymore and has recovered from his awful start. And yes – Davis and Sanchez are awful when you look at the season and what hey are paid – they have not returned anything close to their contracts in value. The opportunity that was hear this year may not be presented next year. The team the Bucs are currently playing will be a lot better next year – lots of good young talent coming. The other three teams in the Division have shown they are comfortable spending $100M plus and will not be idle in trying to get better. All I was trying too say is that the missed opportunity is one that the Front Office chose to make happen – it did not have to. I take little solace in agreeing with you that the Brewers may have been bigger offenders in failing to take advantage of the opportunity they had – they are not a team i care about and root for.


Man oh man ! That is a lot of criminality going on for a team that is 9 games over .500 with 15 to play. Aren’t you the same person that tried to tell us early on that the Brewers were a lot better than the Pirates because of their pitching ? If so, the REAL criminals are the people running the Brewers !

Lee Young

These same Cubs we’re beating up on swept the O’s!!!!

Lee Young

I’m going to take full credit for stopping the collapse. I left for the shore in the middle of our 3 game losing streak to St Louis. I came back refreshed and primed to root on our Buccos. The positive ‘wave’ of energy that I brought back is obviously what is keeping us on our winning path.

If need be, I will volunteer to go BACK to the shore if we start to falter.

ANYTHING for my team!!!!

Andy Prough

No it was me. I stopped the earlier 7-game losing streak by flying to Pittsburgh and going to the game when Cole came back and we beat the Braves. I get the credit for spending $8.50 on StubHub and sitting on the railing at the top of the stadium for that game.

Scott Kliesen

I like that the team has persevered through a ton of adversity to put themselves into position to be a WC team. Possibly even win the division.

It’s easy to criticize CH for the misuse of the bullpen, but clearly he is a magician when it comes to keeping his guys prepared to win each night. He won’t win it again, but he is definitely worthy of consideration for Mgr of the Year.

Andy Prough

If Hurdle wins the division with Holdzkom walking in like the ghost of Roy Hobbs from “The Natural” to save our bullpen – then you’ve got to give him consideration for manager of the year.


I’m just glad that the middle innings look like they have been shored up and not the reason the pirates lose. While I am still not completely sold on melancon he is getting the job done,so kudos to him and I hope he keeps it up.

Dom DiDominic

Am I the only one around that is pretty uncomfortable with a 1.5 game lead. I mean, it would be tough to classify the Brew ‘collapse’ if they end up the 2nd WC.
Looks like we’ll be in good shape if we just win series, but tough to see us pulling away without sweeping the brew and 3/4 vs the braves.


Winning every series = at least 10-5. Brewers won’t catch that. Probably need 11-4 minimum to take division. But, if SF & LA go down to the wire, that could work in Bucs favor.

Monsoon Harvard

Damn right. The Brewers & Braves series will mean everything for the Bucs. I could see a sweep of Milwaukee and winning 3/4 of the Braves series happening, but I’m not going to have any fingernails left & won’t be able to breathe properly until the last out is made.

Lee Young

I’m more comfortable than if it was Milwaukee with the 1.5 game lead.


Milwaukee has the tougher schedule ahead. 2 more against Cinci, then three at St. Louis, three at Pittsburgh. It is conceivable that the Brew Crew could be 4-5 games behind Pittsburgh when they come to town.

Lukas Sutton

Cant think of a better team to feel the sting of a collapsening than the Brewers. Hope they finish the year only a few games above the Reds.

Andy Prough

Hope they stew in their collapsitude like a slow-cooking pork shoulder in a crock pot.


mmm…Pork shoulder. Gotta get my crock pot out. Thanks!


That is insulting to all that porky goodness, the sewers are more like rotten seaweed and fish heads in a crock pot.


mmm…Seaweed. May be time for a sushi run.

Lee Young

a ‘collapsening’? love the ‘word’……… and I agree.

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