First Pitch: So You’re Telling Me There’s a Chance

In yesterday’s First Pitch, we mentioned the new 16-team playoff system in effect for this year (and probably beyond). According to Fangraphs, the Pirates now have a 14.2% chance of making the playoffs, though their World Series chances remained at 0.1% (insert Jim Carrey saying “so you’re telling me there’s a chance” meme here).

Fangraphs also posted their official 2020 ZiPS projected standings on Thursday. They have the Pirates at 26-34, last place in the NL Central, six games back of the first place Chicago Cubs.

That’s a fairly close estimate in my opinion, but a hot/cold streak during a 60-game season can really change things. If you look at the 2019 season for an example. The Pirates finished with a 69-93 record, giving them a .426 winning percentage. Their best stretch of the season was 30-30 last year. That could get them in the playoffs this year, ridiculous as that sounds. Their worst 60-game stretch was 20-40, which gives them a .333 winning percentage and they would have had the third overall draft pick instead of seventh.

Obviously it’s not a good comparison due to the amount of games played, but I’m really interested in seeing if the Pirates can surpass the 23 wins by the 1890 club, the worst team by far in franchise history. Many teams are going to set their record for lowest win total in a season this year, but many don’t have the bar set as low as the Pirates. In fact, only the Philadelphia Phillies have a lower win total in their worst season. They went 17-81 in their first year of existence in 1883. There are other lower win totals in baseball history, but not by a franchise that still exists.

*In case you missed our season previews. Here’s part one on the hitters. Part two on the pitchers.

**We will have at least five articles today, including the one you’re currently reading. If any news comes up we will have more. The other scheduled articles for today are as follows:

This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History – Doug Drabek’s birthday, the unpopular trade of Jake Beckley, and Roberto Clemente’s unique feat.

Game Rewind – Going back to 1912 for a pitching duel between two young phenoms. The Pirates won the battle, but lost the war.

1979 Season Recap – Pirates and Reds need extra innings to decide a winner

Live Game Discussion – Today’s game has a 2:15 PM start time, with Trevor Williams on the mound against Adam Wainwright. We had over 200 comments during yesterday’s game, so join along for some witty banter and spirited discussions.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!




John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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