Forgot Log-in or  Password? |  Help  Not a member, Register Now!
      
Fantasy Football Today
Fantasy Football Today Blog
Gameday Inactives
2014 Draft Prep Guide
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Get Your Draft Board
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Scores
Fantasy Games
Playoff Challenge
Commissioner
Prize Leagues
Free
Office Pool Manager
Game Pick'em
Player Challenge
Fantasy Baseball Today
Fantasy Baseball Today Blog
2015 Draft Prep Guide
Mock Drafts
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Rankings
Projections
Schedules
Probable Pitchers
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injuries
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Message Boards
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Downloadable Draft Kit
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
No Fantasy Teams Found
 
 
 

2014 Fantasy Outlooks: Pittsburgh Pirates

Senior Fantasy Writer
  •  

The Pittsburgh Pirates won 94 games last season -- the third-most in the National League. They made their first playoff appearance since 1992, losing in the NLDS to the Cardinals in five games.

The Pirates return nearly all of the players from last year's team -- with a few tweaks here and there -- and enter 2014 with a wide array of interesting Fantasy options.

2014 Fantasy Outlooks
A.L. East N.L. East
Orioles Braves
Red Sox Marlins
Yankees Mets
Rays Phillies
Blue Jays Nationals
A.L. Central N.L. Central
White Sox Cubs
Indians Reds
Tigers Brewers
Royals Pirates
Twins Cardinals
A.L. West N.L. West
Astros Diamondbacks
Angels Rockies
Athletics Dodgers
Mariners Padres
Rangers Giants

Fantasy owners have a pretty good idea of what to expect from Pittsburgh's core of 2013 MVP Andrew McCutchen (across-the-board production from the first-round pick), Pedro Alvarez (lots of homers, not a great average), and Neil Walker (solid but unspectacular stats from the middle infield spot). And Starling Marte delivered on his prospect promise last year, hitting .280 with 12 home runs and 41 steals in 135 games. He could show gains in power and batting average in 2014, while improving his stolen base rate (he was caught stealing 15 times in 2013).

The fun with the Pirates (Fantasy-wise) will likely come from four fringe-y players, who are basically fighting for two spots (or possibly platoon roles), and could all have an argument for some dollars being thrown their way in an NL-only auction:

Gaby Sanchez (first base), a 2011 All-Star, hit .254 with seven home runs over 264 at-bats in 2013. He's the only player on the roster with significant time at first base -- which is a fairly big deal, considering the Pirates need solid defense at first (despite a -0.9 dWAR from Sanchez), with the pitchers having induced the most groundouts in the majors last season.
Andrew Lambo (first base/outfield), a 6'3", 220-pound 25-year-old, hit .282 with 32 home runs over 444 at-bats in the minors last season, but hit just .233 with a home run over 30 at-bats with the Pirates. Lambo has played mainly as a corner outfielder throughout his career, but saw some first base action in the Venezuelan Winter League and has 41 appearances there in the minors; he's expected to push Sanchez for the first base job.
Jose Tabata (outfield) hit .282 with six home runs in 308 at-bats last year -- the fourth straight season in which he had between 305 and 405 at-bats. A former top prospect, Tabata seems to have settled into a part-time groove with Pittsburgh.
Travis Snider (outfield), another former top prospect, struggled through injury on his way to a .215 average last season. The injury turned out to be far more significant than the "toe" that accompanied his name for the latter half of the season in reports -- he had surgery after the season to remove bones from his left foot.

With Garrett Jones gone (to the Marlins), there are at-bats to be snagged here. Barring any moves, Sanchez will likely win the job at first base, while a healthy Snider makes for an interesting sleeper in right field. However, Gregory Polanco's huge offseason (winning MVP of the Domincan Winter League) and minor league progression (more on that below) could have him up in the majors by mid-June. When the dust settles, it may be Polanco who has the most value in this series of mini-battles.

As for pitching, the rotation could again end up being one of the best in baseball., even with A.J. Burnett likely retiring. Led by Francisco Liriano (16 wins, 3.02 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 9.1 K/9) and Gerrit Cole (10 wins, 3.22 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 7.7 K/9), the Pirates produced the third-best ERA (3.26) in the majors last season. If Wandy Rodriguez can remain healthy, and Charlie Morton can continue his recent success (3.75 ERA in 58 starts over the last three seasons), the season may come down to the work the team's pitching coach -- underrated genius Ray Searage -- can do on Edinson Volquez. And even if something goes awry with one or two starters, the Pirates boast plenty of depth to fill holes. Top prospect Jameson Taillon will almost certainly make his major league debut at some point in 2014. And both Jeff Locke (3.52 ERA and 10 wins over 30 starts last season) and Jeanmar Gomez (2.80 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in eight games started) will be waiting in the wings.

The bullpen features one of the game's best closers -- Jason Grilli -- and an excellent setup man/backup closer in Mark Melancon. Grilli strained a flexor in his forearm in late July and didn't return until early September, where he gave up four runs over his first four games, then promptly righted the ship, saving three games and giving up just five hits and no runs over his next five appearances. He should be clear of injury concerns heading into 2014.

The Pirates have no players in the projected batting order over the age of 30. And with an underrated pitching staff and a top-line bullpen, there should be plenty of Fantasy value on this roster in 2014.

Bounceback candidate ... Edinson Volquez, starting pitcher

2014 projected lineup
Player Name Position
1. Starling Marte LF
2. Neil Walker 2B
3. Andrew McCutchen CF
4. Pedro Alvarez 3B
5. Russell Martin C
6. Gaby Sanchez 1B
7. Jose Tabata RF
8. Jordy Mercer SS
Bench Clint Barmes SS
Bench Travis Snider OF

Just from looking at his stats, Volquez doesn't come across as the best Fantasy option for 2014 -- his WHIP hasn't dipped below 1.45 since 2009, his strikeout rate has tumbled from 9.6 in 2010 to just 7.5 in 2013, and he has somehow managed to produce exactly a 5.71 ERA in two of the last three seasons. But Volquez is now under the tutelage of Ray Searage, who turned around the fortunes of Francisco Liriano, A.J. Burnett, Jeanmar Gomez, Jeff Karstens, Charlie Morton, and Paul Maholm -- among others.

But even without Searage, Volquez has an argument for improvement. His perennially low xFIP was 4.07 last season, fueled by a low strand rate (64.5 percent) and above-average BABIP (.325). And his walk rate (4.1) -- while one of the highest in the majors -- was the second-lowest of his career. It's not exactly a recipe for success, but Searage has a track record of being able to fix pitchers who have shown some degree of success in the past, and could turn Volquez into a Fantasy-relevant starter once again.

Under appreciated ... Charlie Morton, starting pitcher

It's easy to look at the Pirates' projected rotation and think that Jameson Taillon -- when he's ready for the call-up (probably in mid-June) -- will take Morton's spot. But this may not be the case. Morton, 30, just signed a three-year extension with the team. He has a 3.75 ERA over the last three seasons, and these were all interrupted by injury: 2011 hip surgery (for a torn labrum) and June 2012 Tommy John surgery. If you look at what he was able to do in 2013, under the guidance of Searage and clear of the elbow and hip issues, we get a clearer picture of what Morton is capable of -- a 3.26 ERA and 1.28 WHIP over 116 innings pitched. His 6.6 K/9 is probably the ceiling for strikeout potential, but a full, healthy season from Morton could result in some Mark Buehrle-type value -- a steady, decent ratio with a handful of strikeouts, able to support a fourth or fifth spot in an NL-only rotation, with some intermittent use as a two-start waiver add in mixed leagues.

Impact prospect ... Gregory Polanco, outfield

2014 rotation/bullpen
Player Name Throws
1. Francisco Liriano LHP
2. Gerrit Cole RHP
3. Wandy Rodriguez LHP
4. Charlie Morton RHP
5. Edinson Volquez RHP
ALT Jeff Locke LHP
Bullpen Breakdown
1. Jason Grilli RHP
2. Mark Melancon RHP
3. Tony Watson LHP
4. Jared Hughes RHP
5. Vin Mazzaro RHP

There's a case to be made here for Taillon as the impact prospect, but Polanco could be the more intriguing of the two. The Dominican Winter League MVP, Polanco hit .331, with five home runs and seven steals over 166 at-bats. He walked 28 times and had just 34 strikeouts. This was coming off a season which saw Polanco play in 127 minor league games across three levels, finishing with a .285 average, 12 home runs, and 38 steals. Last year was Polanco's second straight season with 12 or more home runs and 35 or more steals. And while he is a center fielder by trade, he's played about 33 percent of his games in right field, where he'd likely land if he's called up to Pittsburgh this season. The right field spot is ripe for the taking, especially if Travis Snider, Jose Tabata, and Andrew Lambo fail to make an impression over the first few months. Polanco, 22, could not only complete one of the more exciting outfields in all of baseball, but he'd provide another left-handed bat in the lineup. He's still an NL-only play, but is a great add in dynasty leagues, with similar upside to Marte.

Prospects Report

Jameson Taillon has been overshadowed throughout his career (he was picked right after Bryce Harper in the 2010 draft and had Gerrit Cole getting much of the attention in the minors), but he has been a top 20 prospect (according to Baseball America) in each of the last three seasons, and should find his way to the Pirates by mid-June, in a manner similar to Cole's arrival after the Super-2 deadline in 2013. ... Austin Meadows hit .316 with seven home runs and three steals in 48 Rookie-level games last year. He was the 13th overall pick for the Pirates in the 2013 draft. He has a few seasons in the minors ahead of him, but dynasty leaguers should take note. ... Josh Bell hit .279 with 37 doubles and 13 home runs in Class-A last season. The 21-year-old is, like Meadows, at least two seasons away, but has plenty of potential to make an eventual impact in the majors. ... Tyler Glasnow struck out 164 batters in 111 1/3 innings last season, also in Class-A. He posted a 2.18 ERA and 1.03 WHIP. With the young, stacked rotation, the Pirates have the luxury of taking their time with Glasnow, who -- according to Baseball America -- has the best fastball among Pirates prospects. ... And just for the sake of an update, the two pitchers the Pirates signed from the Indian reality show, Million Dollar Arm -- Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel -- are no longer with the organization. Patel lasted two seasons in the minors and Singh last pitched in 2012, making 39 appearances with a 3.00 ERA and 8.1 K/9.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Nando Di Fino at @nandoCBS .

Get player news notifications, manage your team and check scores
- all updated in real time. Download the CBS Fantasy App.

  •  
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
 
 
Player News
Rays' Tim Beckham drives in winning run Saturday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1:58 am ET) Rays infielder Tim Beckham continues to show his potential in the big leagues. Beckham ripped a two-run double in the eighth inning off Miguel Castro to break a 2-2 tie. 

"I was just hoping I had a chance to get another at-bat, man," Beckham said to MLB.com. "I struck out twice tonight looking. I wasn't too happy about that. That's not what I like to do. Nobody likes to do it. But I definitely don't like to strike out looking. Just wanted to get another AB, and another opportunity to hit the ball hard. Hopefully some runners on base and get some RBIs."

Beckham was given the green light to swing on a 3-0 count and delivered.

"I didn't get it clean off the barrel, but I put a good swing on it," Beckham said. "He was throwing the ball pretty hard. Thought I had enough to get it out of here."

Beckham is hitting .275 with five RBI in 40 at-bats this season.


Dodgers' Andre Ethier smacks second home run of 2015
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1:54 am ET) Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier went 3 for 4 at the plate in Los Angeles' 11-8 win over the Padres Saturday.

Ethier, starting for the injured Yasiel Puig, found success early and often, slugging a home run in the first inning off of Ian Kennedy to drive in Jimmy Rollins, his second of the season. Ethier then doubled in the fifth inning and singled to center in the eighth to drive in another run.

Ethier is now hitting .353 with six RBI in 34 at-bats this season.


Dodgers third baseman Juan Uribe connects for first home run
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1:51 am ET) Dodgers third baseman Juan Uribe went 1 for 5 at the plate in Los Angeles' 11-8 win over the Padres Saturday. Uribe did his damage in the fifth inning when he smashed a 1-1 pitch from Ian Kennedy over the right field wall for a two-run home run, his first of the season.

Uribe is now hitting .244 with three RBI in 45 at-bats this season.


Dodgers' Howie Kendrick rips third homer of the year
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1:48 am ET) Dodgers second baseman Howie Kendrick went 1 for 5 at the plate in Los Angeles' 11-8 win over the Padres Saturday.

Kendrick did his only damage in the fifth inning when he ripped a 2-2 pitch from Ian Kennedy over the center field wall for a two-run home run, his third of the season. Kendrick is now hitting .308 with 12 RBI in 65 at-bats this season.


Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez continues to roll at the plate
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1:45 am ET) Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez went 2 for 5 at the plate in Los Angeles' 11-8 win over the Padres Saturday.

Gonzalez got going early when he smacked a double to right field in the first inning and was eventually driven home on a Carl Crawford double. He kept rolling in the second when he took an Ian Kennedy pitch over the right field wall for a three-run blast, his seventh of the season.

Gonzalez is hitting a blistering .403 on the season with 18 RBI in 67 at-bats this season.


Padres right fielder Wil Myers cracks third home run of the year
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1:42 am ET) Padres right fielder Wil Myers went 1 for 5 at the plate in San Diego's 11-8 loss to the Dodgers Saturday. Myers connected for his third home run of the season to lead off the first inning Saturday when he smacked a 1-1 pitch from Brandon McCarthy over the center field wall.

Myers is now hitting .272 with 12 RBI in 81 at-bats this season.


Padres' Justin Upton smacks two home runs in losing effort
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1:40 am ET) Padres left fielder Justin Upton went 2 for 3 at the plate in San Diego's 11-8 loss to the Dodgers Saturday. Upton got things going early with a two-run shot off of Brandon McCarthy in the first over the right field wall.

Upton did it again in the sixth, taking McCarthy to center field on an 0-2 pitch for a three-run shot, his fifth of the season. Upton continues to swing a hot bat, raising his average to .303 with 13 RBI on the season, five on Saturday, in 66 at-bats on the year.


Mets shortstop Juan Lagares post 4 for 4 day in win Saturday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1:32 am ET) Mets shortstop Juan Lagares went an impressive 4 for 4 at the plate in New York's 8-2 win over the Yankees Saturday. Lagares, who also scored three times, boosted his average to .296 on the year and credits his recent success to staying patient at the plate, according to MLB.com.

"I just try to do too much sometimes," Lagares said. "When I swing at strikes, I get good results. That's it. It's a great feeling. It's one of those days when you feel good out there and make good swings."

Manager Terry Collins has also been impressed with Lagares' recent success and wants to move him up in the order.

"I don't necessarily think Juan is an RBI guy," Collins said. "I think when he starts to have good at-bats, he's a top-of-the-order guy, which we hope to get him back in that spot."


Giants catcher Andrew Susac connects for first home run of the year
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1:21 am ET) Giants catcher Andrew Susac went 2 for 5 at the plate in San Francisco's 5-4 win over the Rockies Saturday in 11 innings. Susac found success in the fourth inning when he ripped a 1-1 pitch from Jorge De La Rosa over the left field wall for a solo shot, his first of the year. 

Susac, who also added a double, boosted his average to .385 with one RBI in 13 at-bats this season.


Giants right fielder Justin Maxwell adds another home run Saturday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1:16 am ET) Giants right fielder Justin Maxwell went 1 for 6 at the plate in San Francisco's 5-4 win over the Rockies Saturday in 11 innings. 

Maxwell ripped a 2-2 pitch from Scott Oberg over the right field wall to drive home Buster Posey, his third home run of the year. Maxwell, who also struck out twice, is hitting .308 with nine RBI in 39 at-bats this season.


 
 
 
Rankings