Fangraphs' recent MLB power rankings at Sports Illustrated have the Pirates at No. 27. Wait, No. 27? Out of 30? Yes, No. 27, ahead of only the Padres, A's and Twins.â†µ
Speaking of bad offenses, if the Pirates continue their futility at the plate over the entire season, it would represent the worst offensive season by wRC+ since the turn of the 20th century. Andrew McCutchen has been brilliant, but nearly every other position player is struggling at the plate, and opposing pitchers are simply dominating the Pirates offense on a nightly basis. Even with a breakout season by starting pitcher James McDonald, this season has been nothing short of a disaster for the Pirates.â†µ
I'm sure there are a bunch of fans out there breaking their fingers trying to be the first to make the argument that Fangraphs is deliberately using fake stats to slam their favorite team, but that's not what's happening. (The rankings are based on WAR winning percentage, which takes a lot of the luck out of won-loss records.) I find the No. 27 ranking to be a little surprising, but I do think the calls from a lot of fans to treat the 24-24 Pirates like a contender are a little bit ridiculous at this stage. 24-24 record or no, the idea that this year's Pirates are a contender, the sort that should make a big trade for big-league help, doesn't pass the common-sense test. Advanced statistics don't bear it out, either.