MLB Power Rankings: Can Pirates Take Advantage of NL Central Teams' Problems?

Sports Illustrated's latest MLB Power Rankings have the Pirates at No. 20, ahead of two NL Central teams (the Cubs at No. 26 and the Astros dead last). Here's a portion of what SI has to say:

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For the 2012 Pirates to show improvement, they'll need to score more than 610 runs (14th in the NL last year); they've got a core of young hitters (led by Andrew McCutchen, Neil Walker and Jose Tabata) to do that, but Pedro Alvarez will need to live up to his potential and a return to form from newly acquired McGehee would help too.

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The Pirates could get a pretty nice boost from the rest of the division. As the rankings indicate, neither the Cubs nor the Astros should be good -- both teams are in rebuilding mode. After losing Prince Fielder to the American League and Ryan Braun to a 50-game suspension, the Brewers are suddenly down at No. 17, just ahead of the Pirates. The Cardinals should still be fairly good, but they lost Albert Pujols. The Pirates aren't very well positioned to take advantage of it, but their division should give them a few more easy wins this year.

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For more on the Pirates, check out Bucs Dugout.

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