Pittsburgh Pirates Season Recapby Jamie Gatlin October 27, 2021 0 comments
The Pittsburgh Pirates finished 2021 with a 61-101 record. It was their third straight losing season, as the rebuild continued. While the Pirates finished last in the division, there were a few bright spots. David Bednar emerged as a key piece of the future, while Bryan Reynolds made his first career All-Star team. The Pirates also added their catcher of the future in Henry Davis with the first overall pick in the MLB draft.
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Manager: Derek Shelton
Position: Fifth in NL Central
Postseason: Missed playoffs
The Pirates finished with one of the worst records in the majors, so the bright spots were limited. Due to injuries and inconsistency, they set a franchise record for players used. The pitching staff posted a 5.08 ERA, and the offense posted a .236 batting average. However, top prospects Oneil Cruz and Roansy Contreras made their debuts and provided hope for the future.
Although the Pirates lost over 100 games, they were more competitive down the stretch. In the final month of the season, they posted a 13-12 record and got an unexpected boost from Yoshi Tsutsugo. At the minor-league level, prospects such as Nick Gonzales and Quinn Priester shined as they moved closer to PNC Park. Despite the struggles at the major-league level, the Pirates’ stacked farm system continued to show that help is on the way.
MVP and Best Hitter of the Year: Bryan Reynolds
Reynolds struggled in 2020, but was a completely different player in 2021. The Pirates outfielder hit .302 and drove in 90 runs. As Reynolds put together his first All-Star caliber season, he hit 24 home runs. He wasn’t just the Pirates’ best player, but for stretches, one of the best in the National League. While Reynolds was putting up impressive numbers at the plate, he was just as good in the field.
While appearing in 159 games, Reynolds only committed four errors. He was also a human-highlight reel at times, while recording four assists. As Reynolds ranked among the top-10 outfielders in most offensive categories, he continued to hustle in the field. As the Pirates look for franchise cornerstones, Reynolds showed that he could fill that role. Due to his impressive play, the former second-round pick was nominated for his first career Silver Slugger Award.
Bryan Reynolds led the team in batting (.302), home runs (24) and RBI (90).
Make this man a Silver Slugger! pic.twitter.com/BJ74JPojMi
— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) October 27, 2021
Starting Pitcher of the Year : Dillon Peters
During the 2021 season, Pittsburgh’s rotation was constantly changing. Despite the inconsistency, Peters was a pleasant surprise, after he was acquired from the Los Angeles Angels. In six starts for the Pirates, Peters posted a 3.71 ERA. The native of Indiana struck out 23 batters, and only allowed more than three earned runs once. Although he missed the last few weeks of the season due to a lower back strain, Peters was solid when healthy. Peters is expected to be ready for next season and will be a player to keep an eye on. The Pirates’ rotation has a lot of question marks, including Peters. But if he can repeat his 2021 performance, then he will be a valuable piece to the rotation.
Relief Pitcher: David Bednar
In a bullpen that struggled, Bednar was one of the few bright spots. Through 60.2 innings of work, the Pennsylvania native posted a 2.23 ERA. Although Bednar’s season was cut short, he struck out 77 batters. After struggling in his first two MLB seasons with the Padres, Bednar became a key part of the Pirates’ future. The 27-year-old also showed excellent control, as he only allowed five home runs. While Bednar was not the headliner of the Joe Musgrove deal for Pittsburgh, he has made the most significant impact so far. The former 35th round pick shattered all expectations, and will be a crucial reliever for Pittsburgh in 2022 and beyond.
Best Fielder of the year: Ke’Bryan Hayes
After an impressive rookie season, expectations were high for Hayes. The Pirates’ third baseman hit .376 and drove in 11 runs in 24 games. 2021 however, did not go as planned, due to injuries. When Hayes was on the field, however, he lived up to expectations defensively. In 95 games, the Texas native posted a .988 fielding percentage. Hayes only committed two errors and was able to turn 28 double plays. He was a vital part of the Pirates’ improved defense and a human highlight reel. With Hayes at third, the Pirates’ future is in good hands.
Comeback Player of the year: Bryan Reynolds
After a forgettable 2020 campaign, Reynolds proved all of his critics wrong. The Maryland native hit .189 in 2020 with only seven home runs. That proved to be a fluke, as he hit over .300 while only missing three games in 2021. He also finished the season with 67 extra-base hits, including 35 doubles. As Reynolds dazzled the baseball world, he became the Pirates’ most important piece.
In 2022, the Pirates will be looking to add more young talent. They are also expected to see more of Cruz and Contreras, who made their MLB debuts during the last series of the season. The Pirates aren’t likely to be a playoff team, but the talent they have been building in the minors should finally start to make its way to the majors throughout the 2022 campaign.
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