Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Breaking Pittsburgh Pirates News

The Pittsburgh Pirates have been awful with a record of 7-28 since the All-Star break (through Monday, August 19th). This is not the breaking news here. There’s a lot of blame for the poor results to go around. From the lack of quality pitching to injuries to key players like Jameson Taillon to a poor track-record of drafting and developing to the inability of the team to spend significant money in free agency. It seems likely that the team will fire manager Clint Hurdle and possibly even the General Manager Neal Huntington during the off-season as brand-new leadership and a different philosophy are probably needed. However, the Pirates could make a major move with or without making any major personnel moves. What I mean by this is that Sean's Ramblings has learned that Pirates owner Bob Nutting and the team's front office will petition Major League Baseball to move to the team to the American League.

You're probably asking why would the team do this? The Pirates have been in the National League for well over a century. The answer is the team's success against American League teams. In 2019, the Pirates are 12-5 in interleague play but only 39-68 (again, though Monday) against National League teams. That 12-5 record is tied for the best interleague record for any National League team. You're probably thinking, that's ridiculous. That's an extremely small sample size. (You're probably thinking about a lot of other things besides the small sample size, but stay with me here.) However, let's look at the Pirates record against American League teams over the last 9 years:

2019 12-5 (Best in NL)
2018 15-5 (Best in NL)
2017 10-10
2016 9-11
2015 13-7 (Best in NL)
2014 11-9
2013 15-5 (Best in NL)
2012 10-8
2011 8-7

That's a record of 103-67 or an incredible winning percentage of over 60%. I say incredible because this is the Pirates' record against National League opponents during the same timeframe:

2019: 39-68 (through Monday, August 19th)
2018: 67-74
2017: 65-77
2016: 69-72
2015: 85-57
2014: 77-65
2013: 79-63
2012: 69-75
2011: 64-83

Total 614-634

That's a winning percentage of just under .500 at 49.2%

Maybe the front office or coaches know how to manage the Pirates better against American League teams. Maybe they prefer playing with a designated hitter rather than trying to figure whether they should have a pinch-hitter bat for the pitcher in the 6th or 7th inning. Whatever the reason, I think I see why the Pirates want to switch to the AL. Yes, there's the record above, but this is an opportunity to bring in additional ticket revenue. Pirates fans are probably tired of seeing the Brewers and the Reds nine times a year. Now, they would be guaranteed a home series against the Yankees and Red Sox each season. They would probably be in the American League Central meaning nine games each year against Cleveland. Take that Baker Mayfield! Plus, the Twins look good this season, so maybe Pirates fans can pretend that Doug Drabek could have faced Kirby Puckett in the 1991 World Series. (We'll disregard the Royals, White Sox, and Tigers from this conversation. Presumably, if the Pirates moved to the AL one of these teams, probably Kansas City for a fun Cardinals-Royals rivalry, would move to the NL.)

There's no word of whether MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred will consider the Pirates request. With the scheme out for 2020, the earliest this could occur would be 2021.

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