Power Rankings: Arrrr these Pirates for real? Sure looks that way so far

by | Baseball Writer

So let's talk about the Pittsburgh Pirates.

They seem to be the most polarizing team in these here ranks. Most Pirates fans seem to think I have some vendetta against their team while many non-Pirates fans think I consistently rank the Pirates too high -- other than those who think I should just copy-and-paste the standings, but that's a different topic for a different day.

Let's put all that nonsense -- and that's exactly what accusations of bias are -- aside and honestly assess these Pirates. Not the Pirates of the last 20 years. Not the Pirates of last season that teased so many. What about these Pirates.

The starting rotation has posted an ERA amongst the best in baseball, and that's with pretty terrible luck on injuries. They've needed to use 11 different starting pitchers this year, for example. So, really, it's reasonable to expect them to continue to perform well as the arms get healthier.

The bullpen boasts one of the most potent 8-9 duos in baseball in Mark Melancon and Jason Grilli. They could probably use better depth in order to avoid overworking the key players, but when the starters all get healthy, that should trickle down and help -- like being able to move Jeanmar Gomez to the 'pen, for example.

The offense has been a slight issue, but there are areas where a natural improvement should occur. Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker are capable of better play while Pedro Alvarez just recently woke up (again). Jordy Mercer appears to be a giant upgrade over Clint Barmes at shortstop and there's always the trade deadline to add pieces. And, boy, do I love me some Starling Marte.

Overall, I really like the mix.

I don't know if they can make the playoffs, but they have many of the pieces required to do so and, to reiterate, there's a trade deadline in our future. I firmly believe the Pirates will break .500 and remain in playoff contention deep into September.

Then again, I believed that last year, too. So I've been wrong with this bunch before.

Still, as things stand right now, a reasonable argument can be made that the Pirates are playing the best baseball of anyone. So I'm putting them at the top for this week. As I've said many times before, my criteria in ranking is who I'd pick to win a seven-game series that started right now. I'd take the Pirates over anyone as of June 26. Many will disagree, but that's OK. That's part of the Power Rankings fun.

Please feel free to contact me with comments either on Twitter (@MattSnyder27) or via email: matt.snyder@cbs.com. These were posted the morning of Wednesday, June 26. Any action coming after posting wasn't included here.


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