Pirates Ranked as the Third Best Team in Baseball

On ESPN.com on Friday afternoon, David Schoenfield wrapped up his rankings on all 30 teams in baseball and he placed the Pittsburgh Pirates third in all of baseball. They are also third in the National League, falling behind the Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals.

Schoenfield put a lot of work into these rankings, splitting them up into five separate articles. In his evaluation of the Pirates, he says they have a deep lineup and he expects them to be even better at scoring runs this year, with a bounce back from Pedro Alvarez being key to the added offense. He also praises their depth, defense and says the outfield trio of Gregory Polanco, Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte “may be the best all-around group in the game”. He also thinks the starting rotation is strong, saying the Pirates have done just fine without an ace, while also saying Gerrit Cole could be the team’s breakout player this year.

His final record prediction is 91-71, putting them three wins above the St Louis Cardinals for the NL Central.

John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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I can feel a “we are fam-i-lee”, year coming. This is going to be a fun year to be a pirates fan, hopefully with a very happy ending in october.


Absolutely incredible!! What an amazing turn-around for this franchise. The PIrates haven’t been third best in MLB projections since when…1990-92? This should sell some ticket packages and help get PNC rocking this year.

Chris Hale

Tim, I think you or someone else was talking about wanting a Kang HR spray chart. Well I couldn’t find one so i manufactured one myself. Of Course it’s not super accurate but, I broke down the field into 8 sections. Section 1 starting at the left field foul pole and Section 8 ending at the right field foul pole. Dead center field splitting Section 4 and 5. I just watched all 40 of Kang’s Homers he had: 5 HR’s in Section 1, 4 Homers in Section 2,15 HRs in Section 3 which is where I estimate the North side is , 7 of those I estimated would have been Hr’s if hit at the north side notch. Again just a guess. Kang had 5 Homers in Section 4 just left of dead center. Kang had 4 HRs in Sec 5 just right of dead center, 4 HRs in section 6 ,3 HRs in Section 7 and 0 in section 8. So He hit 11 HRs to the right side of dead CF. and 5 more that were just left of dead center. So i’d say he’s got good opposite field power. My guess is 31 of those HR’s would have been out of PNC . He had some absolute mammoth shots that would have been out of the grand canyon. Just thought i’d share this information in case anyone was wondering..


Adding up the wins and losses based on Schoenfield’s numbers:

NL Teams – 1209 Wins, 1221 Losses
AL Teams – 1221 Wins, 1209 Losses

I think San Diego (80-82) and Atlanta (68-94) will be better than David’s predictions and Tampa Bay (79-83) and NY Yankees (78-84) will be worse.


It’s good to be a PIRATE! Now surrender the booty!!!


The Pirates should play this on the scoreboard between innings. Too funny.


Very funny, I like the humor. That’s not quite the booty I had in mind butt it will do.



Sec 119

Not buying this pre-season ranking—-certainly in the Top 10 right now…..But #3 come on


Think about it. The only reason the Pirates didn’t make a run last year was the Giants.
The Giants are starting Casey McGee and Nori Aoki. No chance of hearing from the Giants this year. Who else is there? The Padres.
The Padres have THE WORST infield in all of baseball and the most un-athletic outfield.
Who is the Cardinals big bat? No one. Not one of their position players matches the Buccos or exceeds them. Only Yadier Molina for his defense.
The Dodgers will find out quickly how much they miss the bats of Matt Kemp and Hanley Ramirez.
Third place in the NL sounds about right.

Sec 119

Without question they are poised in the Top 4 to 5 in the NL— #1 Nationals,#2 Dodgers,and until they can rip that Central Division strong hold away from the Cards you have to rank them ahead of the Bucs…But to rank them #3 in all of the MLB, thats smoke and mirrors

Scott Kliesen

Lot to like about this collection of talent for sure. What baffles me is how numerous experts like Buster Olney and David Schoenfield extol the virtues of the Bucs, yet the oddsmakers in Vegas have them as basically a middle of the pack team. Sounds to me like the Pirates are a good value play if you’re inclined to wager.


The Vegas odds are seldom a true reflection of what the expert opinions say. Oddsmakers artificially manipulate the odds up or down in order to ensure that they get enough bets for and against, so that the bookmakers make money and cover their risk.

Scott Kliesen

Au contrair, Vegas odds are almost always a true reflection of how a team is predicted to finish. To set the odds in any other manner increases their risk unnecessarily.

Erik Masucci

Lines and odds are done to ensure betting on all sides. The books do not want to have a high handle on any one team. Or maybe said a little differently they want fans of each team to think they’re getting good value to place the bet. If the Bucs are 17/2 or 10/1 the value isn’t there for the average pirates fan, but at 33/1 its a different story

Scott Kliesen

So you’re suggesting Vegas will get approximately the same amount bet on Nationals as Phillies? Not hardly. They set odds so their payout is approximately the same, no matter what team wins WS. They know the best teams attract the most wagers.

Erik Masucci

No, public teams attract the most wagers



” Oddsmakers don’t try to predict the outcome of the game when setting point spreads. If a team is favored by seven points, that doesn’t mean that the oddsmaker necessarily thinks it will win by seven points. The oddsmaker’s goal when setting the line is to keep an equal number of bets on both sides of the game. The betting public’s perception of the game can be as important as the actual comparison of the two teams.

Why do oddsmakers try to keep the action even on both sides of a bet? A bookie’s worst fear is being “sided.” This happens when many bets come in on one side of a game. If that side turns out to be the winning side, the bookie will lose a lot of money. Ideally, half the bettors lose, and their money goes to pay off the other half, who won, with the bookie taking the vig.”

source: http://entertainment.howstuffworks.com/sports-betting2.htm

Scott Kliesen

You’re talking about betting on an individual game. I’m talking about a future’s bet. As different as apples and oranges.

For a future’s bet, the house establishes odds on a team to attract wagers. Obviously these odds need to be in alignment with their chances to win.

Oddsmakers know more money will be put on highly ranked teams, Dodgers, Nationals, etc., thus the odds are lower. With Pirates, the disconnect is Olney and Schienfield ranking them as contenders, while Vegas has them as also rand.



A betting line for a game follows the same logic as a betting line for a season. Or a betting line for shooting a 7 at the craps table. Or any other gambling event. Math doesn’t change from one randomized event to the other.

I understand the disconnect between the Vegas odds and what the experts say. One possible reason for that is because the Vegas odds are manipulated upwards or downwards to suit the oddmakers’ purposes; I don’t know if that’s what’s causing the disconnect in this case.

I cited a source to support my position. Do you have one for yours?

Scott Kliesen

Bovada has the Pirates at 33-1 to win WS. Coincidentally the same as the Braves.

The Atlantis Sports Book in Reno, NV was first to post over/unders for MLB team wins and they have Pirates at 85.5, which is 12 games more than Braves!

Steve, this is why I said the Pirates are a value play.


I understand that. My point is that maybe the Vegas odds are what they are– and they’re not in line with the expert’s odds– because the Vegas odds are manipulated either higher or lower to suit the oddmakers’ purposes. I have a source to back up my assertion and point. Googling “setting vegas world series odds” will get you more sources. In fact, there are several articles out there about why the odds on the Cubs are so low– and the reason ain’t because of the expert consensus on how good they are.

You stated that you disagreed: “Au contrair, Vegas odds are almost always a true reflection of how a team is predicted to finish. To set the odds in any other manner increases their risk unnecessarily.” Value play or not, you’re haven’t put forth any source to back up why the Vegas odds should be a “true reflection” of the expert odds.


Man oh man ! 2008 doesn’t seem like that long ago to me. What a trip it has been.


2008? How about 2010?

57 Wins, 105 Losses

The Pirates had a negative 279 run differential that year. The team ERA was 5.00 that year. Charlie Morton had a record of 2 Wins, 12 Losses with an ERA of 7.57 that year.


I was looking at the organization as a whole at that time. In 2008 the AA roster, for example, had a handful of recognizable names ( Luis Cruz, Jared Hughes, Ronald Belisario ), and possibly the worst roster I had seen since the early 2000s.

Diego Shmurda



We are talking the majors here? IMO, they could be the best team in baseball at different times this year, but realistically IMO they are probably in the top 7 somewhere. I do agree with some of his points, IMO, they do have the best overall depth of any team in the majors and 91-71 looks like a good bet.

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