Would it have been better if the Pittsburgh Pirates won 75 games in 2022?
I’m asking you to think about that question for a minute.
At this point in the offseason, I think an argument can be made that the Pirates have strategically improved their roster in a way that will lead to an increase of at least ten wins over the 2022 team.
In Tuesday’s article drop, I broke down how those wins might take shape, with the biggest potential coming from a seemingly very likely six-win swing at first base and designated hitter.
The Pirates might be preserving a few of the wins that Bryan Reynolds and Jack Suwinski provide in the outfield, by surrounding them with better depth.
I also think that Austin Hedges will do some great work with the pitching staff, and wrote about why in my column this week.
The Pirates lost 100 games in 2022. They barely ended up with the third worst record in the game. That helped them move up two spots in the draft by winning the inaugural MLB Draft Lottery.
The moves they’ve made so far have helped to stabilize the roster. It’s difficult to imagine them winning more than 81 games with just these moves alone. Fortunately, they do have payroll space, and are looking to add.
Cherington says the Pirates would like to add another starting pitcher and position player
— Justice delos Santos (@justdelossantos) December 21, 2022
If the Pirates added a veteran starter and an outfielder, I think this could be a team that can post a winning record in 2023. That might sound absurd, considering this team looked horrible last year. It wouldn’t be unheard of, as the Orioles went from 110 losses to 83 wins in the span of a year, just this past year.
It didn’t take much for the Pirates to get to the point where I could see them getting 75 wins. They probably could have done the same last year, with more of a focus on adding players during the offseason. While more wins might have made fans feel better about the appearance of progress, it’s becoming clear that rebuilding MLB teams don’t see a value in aiming for wins 63-75.
And why should they?
You don’t get a trophy for having less than 90 losses.
The money you spend to make that 62 win team a 75 win team could be bankrolled for a later year, possibly taking 82 wins to a playoff spot.
So, I ask again: Would it have been better if the Pittsburgh Pirates won 75 games in 2022?
And, why does it make sense this year?
As Anthony Murphy wrote last night, the Pirates have a large wave of prospects arriving in the next year. Do you want those players coming up on a tanking team? Or, do you want them arriving onto a team that is playing to win every night, with the chance to push for a winning season in September?
The former might get another high draft pick.
The latter might create an environment that boosts those young arrivals and smooths their transition to the majors.
I have to think it’s a lot easier for a prospect to arrive on a winning team, where they can just fit in — versus “Hey, Oneil Cruz? Please immediately be a star and carry a team as a rookie, thanks!”
Ideally, at this time next season the Pirates are still working from a low payroll, due to filling so many spots internally with players from their farm system. Perhaps that would allow them to strategically spend their way next year into a playoff run in 2024.
First, let’s see how they finish the offseason.
Highlight of the Day
Pirates Prospects Daily
By Tim Williams
**In this week’s Roundtable, we each picked our favorite prospect story from 2022.
**The Pirates are reportedly looking for starting pitching in return, if they were to trade Bryan Reynolds.
**The Pirates announced six minor league free agent signings, including two names we haven’t heard before.
**Oneil Cruz appears to be done for the winter. John Dreker has an update in the latest Pirates winter report.
**Missed yesterday? Anthony wrote about the next wave of prospect to hit Pittsburgh.
Song of the Day
Pirates Prospects Weekly
In our latest Roundtable, we each picked our favorite prospect story in 2022.
Jeff Reed will have the latest Pirates Discussion Friday at noon.
Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.