Buster Olney Ranks Pirates Ninth Overall

In the final rankings for Buster Olney, he picked the top ten teams in baseball(subscription required). The Pirates received top ten rankings for their rotation, bullpen and defense, while getting the top overall spot for outfielders and getting the honorable mention(#11) for the best lineups. The only category they didn’t do well in was the best infield, not getting mentioned among the 14 teams named.

Those rankings combined seemed to point to the Pirates being among one of the top five teams in baseball, but Olney has them ranked ninth overall and fifth in the National League.

If you use his rankings as standings, then that means he is picking the Chicago Cubs to win the NL Central, as they are the top ranked team on his list. The San Francisco Giants(#4) would win the NL West and New York Mets(#8) would repeat as NL East champs. That would leave his #7 ranked team, the St Louis Cardinals to host the Pirates in the NL wild card game.

Olney’s list has an even split of AL/NL teams in the top ten. The Dodgers, Diamondbacks and Nationals all got honorable mentions.

  • Go Pirates!

  • There are only two things that really matter:
    1) Be one of the top 5 teams.
    2) If you end up as a WC team, have the pitcher who will throw the shutout.

  • This is never stated, but the Cubs defense is horrific.

  • Most rankings Ive seen have the pirates somewhere between 5-10 in the league. Seems about the consensus.

    • I think the Pirates are being conservatively rated because of the 1B question mark, Kang’s injury, and Taillon/Glasnow at Indy. There are some moderate ifs right now but the Pirates have great potential to jump that list if some things break the way they should.

  • Fangraphs has the Dodgers winning the West and the Nats winning the East, but I agree with Olney’s picks for those divisions.

    • BuccosFanStuckinMD
      January 19, 2016 1:48 pm

      I like the Mets in the East, because of that starting rotation…and the fact that the Nats haven’t really helped their lineup that much, in my opinion. Revere and Murphy will help, but they also lose some production with Desmond and Span gone.They are now counting on Papelbon alone to close, since they shipped off Storen to Toronto. If the Mets go out and land Cespedes, I like them hands down in the NL East…

      • Yeah, I think Olney’s buying too much into the #evenyear meme with the Giants…Dodgers have no less talent than the Giants and the most depth in baseball. Hard to make an argument for the Giants over them at this point.

      • Mets bullpen certainly seems a tick better than WSH, who has left itself with Papelbon and a list of non inspiring other option.

  • I think it’s definitely been an interesting off-season.

    It can’t be an easy sell to some FA SP’s and their agents that are looking this way and seeing that the Pirates are eager to bring up 40% of the rotation sometime in June or July. I obviously have no info to this or an agent’s thought process, but to be looking for a place to go be in a rotation I’d imagine you’re either looking for a team that won’t contend and will send you to a contender who needs SP mid-year or you’re looking for a contender who is already looking for a SP to lock down a spot for an entire year.

    The Buccos are a weird team in that their “step back” year is still a year they are contending for the playoffs. This new wave of talent (hopefully upgraded talent over their replacement) can possibly come up and actually help the Buccos contend for a playoff spot AND cut their teeth in their first year instead of only being up because we aren’t contending. It’ll be intriguing to see how the rest of the off-season unfolds…and if the L’s pile up, then the decisions may (definitely will) be easier over the summer.

    • Excellent points on the 2016 Pirate transition. The Cubs bought a big time SP (Lester), Arrieta had his career year, and every button they pushed turned on the lights. It happened mostly with 3 high draft picks, but seeing kids hitting MLB pitching like that has to make us all wonder what can be possible.

      The Pirates pitching moves were set back a year due to injuries, and their position moves could have waited, but they had to be made. It is a big gamble to try to do it all at once, but I favor that type of aggressive move to plan the possibility of making this a full transition year and still maintain contender status.

  • As it has been said, “Ask me again in October.”

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    January 19, 2016 11:12 am

    Good news and bad news…we’re picked 9th overall, but third in our division. The Cubs should be stronger, but I think the Cardinals may be weaker with loss of Heyward and no significant additions to the lineup (as of yet)…but, they are the Cardinals…

    • To say nothing of Yadier’s health. I think Molina regresses big time this year in terms of health and at the plate.

  • I would replace the Dodgers with the Cardinals on the list. Its hard to imagine, but I do think the Cardinals might be missing the playoffs this year.

  • Buster loses all credibility when he fails to have the Dodgers in his top ten – they have great depth in both arms and bats and should be a lock for 90+ wins. I still think the Bucs are going to have to have a lot of things break the right way to have a shot at the play in game. I really have a hard time seeing how the team the will be going to spring training is better than last years team. A healthy Kang and a breakout season for Polanco could prove me wrong – which is why they play the games.

    • Dodgers are great on paper but lack any desire to succeed. The new manager could be a disaster and I really think the perception about talent is one thing but this group having the desire to win is another.

      • I’d be more concerned with Arizona and Washington. Putting Greinke and Shelby Miller at the front of that rotation with that offense. The Giants are going to have their hands full with the Snakes all year long.

  • I couldn’t agree more. Rizzo and Bryant are very talented and you can pencil them in for 30 HRs and 100 RBI if healthy. But I highly doubt Jake A goes 6 months of lights out pitching, and Kyle S will not keep up his high HR rate. Every team as issues or weakness. The Cubs don’t have a closer and a lot of swing and miss guys. It is different playing w pressure, look at the Pirates a couple of years ago. Cubs, Cards and Pirates will be there in the end, but overall defense and timely hitting will win out. If Polanco hit that ball 1 foot higher we win the play in game.

    • Schwarber is a player without a position defensively so that will create problems for them. And, as always, Maddon is a jagov.

  • I see the #1 story for MLB this season being how the Cubs handle the pressure of sky high expectations. Sure they have a talented roster, but they also have a plethora of inexperienced players who haven’t had to deal with much adversity in their career.

    I predict they’re going to find out it’s a whole lot easier to be the hunter than the hunted.

    • Cross sport reference but Ken Hitchcock said yesterday I think experience is overrated… You still have to play.

      • The fact that the Cubs are expected to have linear improvement straight across the board, and the Cardinals and Pirates forecast for regression is just a fact I can’t seem to accept. I have never seen this as long as I have been watching baseball.

      • I’m not saying Cubs won’t win division. I am saying it’s highly unlikely they meet expectations the experts have for them, which is to run and hide from Cards & Pirates.

        Far more often the odds on favorite to win WS crashes and burns than makes the experts look smart.

      • Totally beyond the point and a bit unfair….but i find it funny the current coach of the Blues saying experience is overrated. Not for nothing Ken, but your current boys seem to have an issue once playoff time rolls around after being extremely talented all year. Experience aint the only factor, but it sure seems to be one of them.

    • Andrew, was he serious ? OR, are all MLB Managers and GMs wrong ?

      • Yes he was serious. Experience matters in things like have you seen this pitcher before, I don’t think it matters at all with things like is a team the hunted or hunter.

        There isn’t really any projected improvement in Cubs players from last year, it is more they added Heyward, Zobrist, and Lackey who are projected to be better than the players they are replacing.

        • I vehemently disagree with your opinion.

          The human psyche plays a huge part in success or failure. A player who is expected to win can channel this belief into confidence and achieve success, but he can just as easily lose confidence quickly when he fails.

          How the Cubs players deal with this will determine how their season goes just as much as how Heyward, Zobrist and Lackey perform compared to those they replace on the roster.

          • This is non-falsifiable position, making positive statements (positive vs normative) is foolish.

            I’m agnostic the importance of player psyche.

            • I’d be inclined to agree with you if the game was played by robots or on paper, but since it’s not, I don’t think you have a clue.

              And as evidence to support my position I submit Drew Storen and the Nationals as exhibit A. He went from a lights out closer on a 1st place team to a devastated mentally set-up man on one of the biggest under achieving teams of recent memory. On paper the trade for Papelbon should’ve strengthened their team, but in actuality it crushed it. Why? It sure wasn’t because Papelbon started blowing saves.

              • And there in lies the problem, you tell whatever story you want citing player psyche; too inexperienced to realize the pressure, overconfident so they crumbled, unheralded so there was no pressure, they are a team of odd balls without a leader so they make it work, he has the rings they all follow his lead, ect.

                Papelbon clubhouse cancer who scuttled a team from .535 win% to a .476 rate, over 162 games that is 10 wins, I guess whoever said Brandon Inge was worth 10 wins in the clubhouse was right?

            • It’s all ballbearings these days….Fletch

    • Sorry Scott, somehow my reply got directed to you rather than Andrew.

    • I know one thing, there are definitely gonna be some scuffles between the Cards, Cubs, and Pirates. With these 3 teams’ talent and expectations, and how close they finished last year, games in April & May should come with a playoff feel. Factor in that the Cubs & Cards have eliminated the Pirates the last two years, and how they are ranked lower than these teams coming in, Hurdle should be preaching an underdog angle for a team loaded with guys in their prime. I hope to see the Pirates playing a little chippy early in the season. They owe the Cubs a little extra for the Kang injury anyways.

      • Part of me agrees with this, but i always end up coming back to thinking “what does that get us”? Im just as mad about the Cubs actions as anyone, but i dont want Cutch getting targeted anymore than we can avoid. We get chippy and do something against CHC and i get left wondering when Cutch takes a FB to the back.

        One area i think Hurdle has proven himself in is being able to connect with the team and keep them focused on a daily basis. I have no issues trusting Hurdle to have the team thinking the right way as all that is concerned.

        • Yeah, they have a lot of 4-6 year vets now so focus should not be a problem. Especially with a guy like Cutch leading the lineup, Cole leading the staff, and Melancon & Watson leading the pen. Those three are some serious professionals. It’s nice when your stars are the most professional guys on the team. Although part of me thinks Hughes sets the tone out in the pen.

          • What i love most about Hughes is the total night and day he seems to be on/off the field.

            He sprints onto the field and looks intense, mouth open and serious the entire time. And a ton of reports from fellow players have him as nothing like that off the field. Love it.

            • I like how he takes every picture with an insane look in his eyes. He has fun out there. He has the true flaky middle reliever personality.

    • They can ask the World Series Champion Nationals for advice on how to succeed when you’re highly favored.