First Pitch: The Approach in 2020 as 2020 Approaches

We’re two days away from a new year and a new decade. I’ve been doing an annual article  each year around this time, along the theme of “20 Players who could make a difference in 2020”.

I don’t think the Pirates are making a difference in 2020 in the majors, so I don’t think that approach would work this year. I’ve focused on a prospect approach in the past — 20 prospects to watch in 2020 — but there’s not much separation between that and a standard top prospect list.

It’s also difficult to write about the 2020 season and what to expect for the Pirates when we have no indication of what the Pirates are planning on doing. So at some point in the next two days, I’ll have some form of 2020 preview. I’ll also have a few fun 2019 recaps, combining some article ideas I missed out on this weekend.

**Wilbur Miller will be doing a prospect chat this afternoon, discussing the 2020 Prospect Guide. You can purchase your copy of the eBook here for just $19.99. We’ll have an article up this afternoon for you to post questions.

**As usual, feel free to use the comments for any discussions or questions.




By John Dreker

Three former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, plus a trade of Babes.

On this date in 1943, the Pittsburgh Pirates traded catcher Babe Phelps to the Philadelphia Phillies for first baseman Babe Dahlgren. Phelps hit .284 in 95 games for the Pirates in 1942, but he did not play during the 1943 season. The Pirates also included cash in the deal. Dahlgren played for six different teams from 1940-43, hitting .287 with 50 walks and 56 RBIs in 136 games in 1943. Phelps never did play a game for the Phillies so all they got out of the deal was the cash. Dahlgren played 158 games for the Pirates in 1944, the highest game total in a single season since 1915. He hit .289 that year with 101 RBIs and a team leading 12 home runs, earning himself MVP support, finishing 12th in the voting. The following year he hit .250 with 75 RBIs in 144 games. The Pirates sold him to the Browns in the off-season and he hit just .175 in 28 games before being released, which ended his 12-year career.

Jim Viox, infielder for the 1912-16 Pirates. Viox played three seasons in the minors for Lexington of the Blue Grass League before joining the Pirates at the beginning of the 1912 season. He played just 33 games that year, hitting .186 while playing some time at 2B/SS/3B/RF. He became the everyday second baseman the next year and did well, hitting .317 (3rd in NL) with 86 runs and 65 RBIs. He became the first Pirates starter, other than Honus Wagner, to lead the team in batting average since 1902. In 1914 his numbers slipped, although he played 143 games. He hit .265 with 63 walks and 57 RBIs. Viox played a career high 150 games in 1915, drawing 75 walks, the third highest total in the National League. Despite the amount of playing time he received in 1915, he only lasted until late July of 1916 before he was let go by the Pirates. He returned to the minors and hit .313 in 42 games in 1916, then .315 in 92 games the following year, but never made it back to the majors. He finished his playing career in 1924 and also managed six seasons in the minors. Viox had a .273 average in 506 career major league games.

Ovid Nicholson, teammate of Viox on the 1912 Pirates team. He just finished his third season in the minors when the Pirates called him up in mid-September 1912 to make his major league debut. He played six games over a ten-day stretch, hitting .455 in 11 at-bats with three RBIs. He played four games in left field and two off the bench. Nicholson returned to the minors where he finished out his playing days in 1917. He later coached and managed in the minors, last taking the helm in 1935. He is the only player in major league history with the name Ovid.

Sean Gallagher, pitcher for the 2010 Pirates. He was picked up from the Padres on July 7, 2010 and finished the season in the Pirates bullpen. He posted a 6.03 ERA in 34.1 innings for the Pirates after posting a 5.40 ERA in 15 games for the Padres. Gallagher pitched for Indianapolis ( AAA) in 2011 and went 5-12, 5.11 in 29 games, 23 as a starter. He signed with the Reds for the 2012 season, then ended up playing pro ball until 2016. He had a 5.64 ERA in 207.1 innings over four seasons in the majors.

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Tim is the owner, producer, editor, and lead writer of He has been running Pirates Prospects since 2009, becoming the first new media reporter and outlet covering the Pirates at the MLB level in 2011 and 2012. His work can also be found in Baseball America, where he has been a contributor since 2014 and the Pirates' correspondent since 2019.

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