The Pittsburgh Pirates have been one of baseball's surprises this season, emerging as a contender in the NL Central and looking like a favorite to win one of the league's Wild Card playoff spots.
Pittsburgh was also a surprise contender at this point last season before falling into a deep collapse. That resulted in a fourth-place finish, 24 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers, that made most everyone forget how they raised hope and encouraged fan interest earlier in the season.
But Pirates general manager Neal Huntington has made several key moves that has Pittsburgh competing for a playoff spot again this year. And many of those transactions will prevent the second-half collapse that the team suffered last season.
For those clubs that are struggling this year or have slid down the standings after initially challenging for first place or a Wild Card bid, the Pirates' plan is one worth following. What did Huntington do that other hopeful contenders can attempt to replicate for next season?
Here are five points that teams should incorporate in their planning.