The Pirates are having an especially strange season and keep winning despite some poor statistics

While it's technically still "early" in the season, it's not too early to start looking at what teams are going to contend and which look like they won't. We've already banked more than a quarter of the season. To this point, no team has a resume that is more off-the-wall weird than the Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pirates right now are riding a three-game winning streak and trail the Cubs by just 2 1/2 games in the very tough NL Central. Digging deeper, though, hilarity ensues. 

The Pirates have scored 169 runs and allowed 208. That's a negative-39 run differential, which carries an expected 18-26 record to this point. Generally speaking, when teams are out-performing their run differential to such a ridiculous degree, they have excelled in one-run games. Yet the Pirates are 6-7 in those. 

They've had a road-heavy schedule, too, with 18 home games and 26 road tilts so far. The Pirates are 9-9 at home with a negative-25 run differential. On the road, they are 15-11 with a negative-14 run differential. 

The National League has 15 teams. There are only four with a better record than the Pirates. Yet, here's where they rank in some key categories: 

  • Runs: 14th
  • HR: 14th
  • Average: 8th
  • On-base percentage: 11th
  • Slugging percentage: 13th
  • ERA: 8th
  • Run differential: 13th

The only teams with a better record are the Cubs, Dodgers, Phillies and Brewers. The only teams with a worse run differential are the Giants and Marlins

Are you cross-eyed yet? There's more. 

This month, the Pirates have gone 11-6. Among NL teams, only the Cubs (12-6), Dodgers (11-5) and Phillies (12-6) have been better and that's only by a half-game. The Pirates have been outscored by 20 runs, though! Only the Nationals and Marlins have a worse run differential among NL teams in the month. 

Absolutely nothing makes sense with the numbers on this team. The only thing that actually matters right now looks good, though, as the Pirates return home winners of seven of their last 10 games and four games over .500. Starting Tuesday night, they'll face the Rockies three times followed by the Dodgers three times in PNC Park. Then it's four at Cincinnati before they come home again for four against the Brewers and three against the Braves

The numbers say a backslide is coming, but the numbers haven't held the Pirates back at all so far in 2019. 

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Snyder has been a baseball writer with CBS Sports since 2011. A member of the BBWAA, he's now covered every World Series since 2010. The former Indiana University baseball player now lives on the... Full Bio

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