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March 14, 2013 posted by Paul Greco

Top 5 Questions for Pittsburgh Pirates

Top 5 Questions for Pittsburgh Pirates
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Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates, OF

Can Andrew McCutchen have another MVP-like season?

Though McCutchen is very talented ballplayer, he grossly overachieved last year. After posting a .259 average in 2011, McCutchen hit a blistering .327 last year. Most would say it was his coming out party but if you look at the peripheral numbers you will see that McCutchen is in for a big time regression. He had a .371 BABIP in 2012, 61 points above his career MLB average. This also helped his OBP shoot up but if you look more closely, he actually drew 19 less walks than in 2011. Put all of this together with his stolen base total decreasing for the past two years and you get less RBI’s and less runs scored. Temper your expectations for McCutchen year, and be careful taking him in the first round.

Can AJ Burnett repeat his solid 2012 campaign?

Last year, after moving back to the National League, AJ Burnett had his best year at the age of 35 since 2008 when he was with Toronto. After getting traded to the Yankees he looked like a different pitcher. He stopped striking out batters at an elite rate and posted back-to-back seasons with an ERA above 5. 2012 was a completely different story. Burnett finished the year with 16 wins, a 3.51 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP. Going into 2013 as the ace of Pittsburgh’s staff, AJ Burnett is a safe play and could easily win another 15 games.

What will you get out of Neil Walker in 2013?

Consistency. Over the past three years, Neil Walker has very quietly been one of the better fantasy options at second base. Over that time he has averaged 13 home runs and a surprising 73 RBI’s. Last year Walker drove in 69 runs even though he missed 30 games. He isn’t as fast at the prototypical second basemen but he puts up above average power numbers and knows how to get on base. You can very easily get him in the middle rounds and if he is there grab him without reservation. If healthy you can expect 15 home runs with the possibility of 80 RBI’s from the 27 year old Walker.

Who has the best fantasy value of any Pirate?

The answer to this question is Garrett Jones. Not because he will put up the best numbers, but because you can get him in the last few rounds of your draft. In only 475 at-bats last year, Jones blasted a career high 27 home runs and drove in 86. In most leagues he is eligible at two positions (OF and 1B) which will provide your team with great depth. Jones won’t be a starter on most, if any teams, but if your league requires a CI or more than one UTIL spot he will be a great fill in. Jones will be a very good asset and is a good insurance policy in case one of your regulars goes down.

Should you draft James McDonald?

When you compare James McDonald’s pre- and post-All Star break numbers, they look like two different pitchers. In the first half of 2012 he threw over 100 innings and struck out 100 batters. His record was 9-3 and he had a WHIP under one. In the second half, he only threw 61 innings, had a 3-5 record, and his WHIP was a very ugly 1.78. When all was said and done, McDonald finished the season with a very respectable 12-8 record and a 1.26 WHIP. No injuries were involved and in 2011 he actually had a stronger second half so fatigue couldn’t have been the reason. Though he was removed from the rotation at the end of last year, McDonald will either be the #2 or #3 starter for Pittsburgh. He is worth drafting in the late rounds and look for him to win around 12-14 games with an ERA of 3.85 and a WHIP of 1.30.

Paul finished the 2011-2012 Fantasy Football season as the #1 Weekly Rankings & Projections winner of the 411Fantasy Expert Challenge. He also finished 2nd in the FantasyPros.com Expert Draft Accuracy Challenge in 2011. Top 10 Finisher in the FSWA Fantasy Football Draft Projections. Paul is also apart of baseballs elite as a member of Tout Wars. You can follow me on Twitter @PaulGreco
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