Burning Fantasy Baseball Questions: Pittsburgh Pirates

by Tim Heaney on January 14, 2011 @ 13:00:00 PDT


KFFL answers some important fantasy baseball questions for each Major League Baseball team as spring training approaches. What must fantasy baseball players know about the Pittsburgh Pirates?

What does 2011 hold for the latest wave of young Bucs?

In a volatile third base class, Pedro Alvarez is C-4. His low contact and batting eye will keep his clip low. But you buy the power - and maybe as a bonus him re-igniting his .306-6-27 post-August fuse. Alvarez's 30-homer upside helps him stand out among middle-tier third basemen. Good luck seeing him fall into CI territory.

Pittsburgh Pirates RPs Joel Hanrahan and Evan Meek
Hanrahan and Meek set to duel

Jose Tabata has bulked up a little, but the spring noise shouldn't prevent you from taking him as a speed mixed flier. A 30-steal season with a non-hurtful batting average is where you start. Double-digit homers would be a bonus, and more muscle increases that likelihood.

Neil Walker surprised a bit last year. He had BABIP help but made hard and enough contact, so it wasn't farfetched. The 26-year-old's competency with fly balls also keeps 20 homers possible for a full season. Here's a potential MI profit.

Where will Pirates saves go?

Barring Pittsburgh nabbing another arm, it's between Joel Hanrahan and Evan Meek, who shared the role after the Octavio Dotel trade last year; the former received more saves work. Hanny, of ample K's, is one of few relievers worthy of mixed ownership when he isn't closing. Meek can whiff batters, too, while maintaining a GB-heavy arsenal. Both hurlers made control strides in 2010.

Whoever wins the job stands to be a solid value among the expanse mixed No. 3 group. Pittsburgh likely will take their time deciding. If you can't, Hanrahan is the better target; he fits the shutdown profile better and has done the job before.

Any buried treasure in this rotation?

After being acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers last year, James McDonald flashed some gold with a 3.52 ERA and 8.58 K/9 in 64 frames, including a torrid - albeit fortunate - September (2.31 ERA, 2.31 K/BB). Entrenched in a clear role, McDonald has deep mixed sleeper value.

Kevin Correia deserves NL-only attention: Rising dominance and grounder rates take some sting out of his control problems. Wait and see on waiver wire arms Charlie Morton, Paul Maholm, Ross Ohlendorf and Scott Olsen.

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About Tim Heaney

Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.

He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.

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