This decade of Pittsburgh Pirates' baseball has had its ups and downs but there have been great players to come through our city and I think it would be nice to put together a roster of the best of the best from the past ten years.
Let’s dig right in and try to avoid those that only spent a month or two in the black and gold.
Catcher: Russell Martin
The real competition here was Francisco Cervelli but Russell gets the nod from me. He followed possibly the darkest period of catching ineptitude (No offense Fort) the Pirates have experienced in quite some time and he also helped change the perception that Pittsburgh couldn’t sign a big-name free agent.
Third Base: Pedro Alvarez
People tend to dismiss Pedro as a bust, but for a time he was crushing the ball regularly and had a cannon for an arm before he inexplicably got the yips. Plus, the next real competition is probably David Freese and while he was a solid player Pedro gave way more. The only playoff series the Pirates managed to play this decade Pedro was a bright spot in an otherwise quiet offense.
Short Stop: Jordy Mercer
No doubt. Full stop best short stop in Pittsburgh since Jack Wilson patrolled the position. An underrated bat and dependable fielder, Jordy made the pitch-to-contact fiasco work better than it should have.
Second Base: Neil Walker
Neil was a homegrown talent in every sense of the word. Not only did he come up through the system, he won a state championship for Pine Richland High School in the North Hills of Pittsburgh. He reinvented himself from a catcher to a third basemen and ultimately worked with Maz to become a solid double play partner with Jordy at second base.
First Base: Josh Bell
And it isn’t close. Who did you expect, John Jaso? What more can be said about Josh Bell? Consistency and defense are his missing components and his work ethic tells me he will continue to improve.
Outfield: Andrew McCuthen, Starling Marte, and Corey Dickerson
Andrew and Starling are locks, Dickerson edges out Polanco if only because he had an elite 2018. Polanco has yet to put it together in any one season.
Starting Pitchers: A.J. Burnett, Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon, Francisco Liriano, Ivan Nova
Sure there are other candidates but A.J. was the star this club needed and leader of the staff that sent the Pirates to the playoffs for the first time since 1992. Gerrit and Jameson were the homegrown talents needed to build around. Frankie was a resurrected star who made Uncle Ray Searage the talk of baseball before things went south and Ivan Nova was the poster child for pitch-to-contact.
Relievers: Tony Watson, Jason Grilli, Felipe…He Who Shan’t Be Named, Mark Melancon, Evan Meek, Jared Hughes, Solomon Torres
Neal Huntington excelled in one area above all else, building a bullpen. Excellent trades and reclamation projects with a hint of homegrown talent created an evolving and continually excellent staff that directly contributed to winning games and shortening them as well.
Our Bucs have surely not reached the heights we want or expect but that doesn’t mean we haven’t been treated to some terrific players. The trick is, putting more of these together on the same squad. Here’s hoping the ‘20s are roaring.
Follow Gary on Twitter: @garymo2007