The Pittsburgh Pirates have a proud history, winning nine National League pennants and five World Championships. The past 19 years, though, have been forgettable, and the franchise has continued to struggle in recent seasons. The Pirates have finished in last place in their division nine times in the past 19 years.
Pittsburgh won 72 games in 2011, which was an improvement of 15 games from 2010 and matched the best finish for the team since 2004. However, it was a frustrating year for fans because the team showed promise through the month of July before falling apart in August and September.
Team Records Since 2007
The Pirates have had a series of poor seasons and have typically been out of the playoff races early in the season. The 2011 season was different. The Pirates were above .500 at the beginning of July, and the team was tied for the lead in the NL Central as late as July 25.
However, between July 26 and August 7, Pittsburgh managed to win just one game, and by that time, the Pirates were 10 games out of first. Nothing improved for the rest of the season as the Pirates finished 24 games out of first.
Here are the team’s records for the past five seasons:
2007: 68-94 (6th place in NL Central)
2008: 67-95 (6th place in NL Central)
2009: 62-99 (6th place in NL Central)
2010: 57-105 (6th place in NL Central)
2011: 72-90 (4th place in NL Central)
Recent Playoff Drought
The Pirates made three consecutive appearances in the National League Championship Series but lost all three (once to the Cincinnati Reds and twice to the Atlanta Braves). Since their loss to the Braves in 1992, the Pirates have not managed a winning season, let alone a trip to the playoffs.
Pittsburgh Pirates All-Stars Since 2007
The Pirates have not done a good job developing young talent. The team has had only one player make more than one appearance at the All-Star Game since 2007 (Freddy Sanchez in 2007 and 2009; he has played for the Giants since midseason in 2009).
The Pirates’ best player during the last three years has been outfielder Andrew McCutcheon. In 2011, he made the NL All-Star team and hit 23 home runs with 89 RBI while batting .259.
Here are each of the team’s all-stars since 2007:
2B Freddy Sanchez (2007, 2009)
OF Nate McLouth (2008)
P Zach Duke (2009)
P Evan Meek (2010)
P Kevin Correia (2011)
P Joel Hanrahan (2011)
OF Andrew McCutcheon (2011)
Hope for 2012
The Pirates beefed up their starting rotation by acquiring former Yankee A.J. Burnett. Although he struggled in New York, he is a former 18-game winner (with Toronto in 2008) and hopes to revive his career with the Pirates.
Pirates Schedule in 2012
The Pirates open their 2012 season at home against Philadelphia on Thursday, April 5. Other home series in April include series against the Cardinals and Rockies. The team travels to face the Dodgers, Giants, D-Backs, and Braves.