Last season the Pittsburgh Pirates took some big steps forward.
The team contended to make the playoffs for a good portion of the season. Unfortunately for the Pirates, the second half of the season fared much worse than the first. Pittsburgh really struggled down the stretch, especially in the month of September, as the team won just seven games that month.
The good news for the team was that they managed to finish the season 79-83, their best season since 1997. Though they struggled as the season came to a close, 2012 was rather impressive for the Pirates. Just three seasons ago, they went 57-105, the worst record in the MLB that year.
At the All-Star break, Pittsburgh had won 48 games and was sitting atop the National League Central division standings.
The club finished the first half of the season with a 13-2 victory over the San Francisco Giants, who would go on to win the World Series. A.J. Burnett earned the win and had a 10-2 record going into the All-Star game.
Andrew McCutchen had an unbelievable year for the Pirates and has blossomed into one of the league's bright young stars. He finished No. 2 to Buster Posey in NL batting average. McCutchen also lead Pittsburgh in nearly every offensive category, including home runs and runs batted in.
Pittsburgh made some progress last season but still could not manage to finish .500. Here are five things that must happen for the Pirates to get over that hump: