The Pittsburgh Pirates aren't going anywhere.
Following tonight's loss to the Chicago Cubs, they sit 13 games above .500, a game out of first place in the N.L. Central. But unlike last season, where they stayed in the playoff race until August due to the Brewers and Cardinals playing close to .500 ball, the Pirates are very much here on their own merit.
In addition to being one game behind Cincinnati, the Pirates are two games behind Washington for the best record in the National League and only three games behind the Yankees for the best record in all of baseball. They currently hold a comfortable 2.5 game lead in the Wild Card race.
The Pirates' record is no fluke, either: The only team behind the Bucs in the National League standings who has a better run differential than Pittsburgh is the St. Louis Cardinals, who have the best run differential in the National League.
The Pirates have earned their way into playoff position, and there are several reasons to believe they can stick around.