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After back-to-back seasons in which the Pirates were in contention at the All-Star break only to collapse down the stretch, many expect this to be the season they finally post a winning season.
Not since 1992, when they went 96-66 and captured the NL East title, have the Pirates posted a winning record.
They were 48-37 with a one-game lead in the NL Central at the All-Star break last season. But they slowly fell off from there and finished the season 79-83, a full 18 games out of first place.
Offensively, the team has a budding superstar in Andrew McCutchen but lacks much in the way of consistent producers beyond the center fielder.
On the pitching side of things, A.J. Burnett and Wandy Rodriguez form a solid one-two veteran punch atop the staff, but the rest of the rotation is below average.
The impending arrival of top pitching prospects Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon—and continued development of guys like Starling Marte and Neil Walker—could make the team a contender in 2014.
But I expect another sub-.500 season in 2013.