What else can baseball fans do in January but dream of October? In You May Say I'm a Dreamer, the Outside Corner staff will imagine the route to a World Series in 2013 title for all 30 teams.
The streak is over, and not only are the Pirates a winning team, they are the champions of baseball. Their championship run was truly a team effort, but if you could point to one player that was responsible for Pittsburgh's miraculous season, look no further than center fielder and NL MVP Andrew McCutchen. He somehow improved on his 2012 career year, bashing 35 homers and stealing 27 bases while posting a .981 OPS for the Pirates..
It wasn't a one man effort in Pittsburgh though, as Neil Walker gave McCutchen some help in the Pirates lineup. Walker hit 17 homers and stole 12 bases for Pittsburgh with a .779 OPS, giving him a statline that made him one of the more valuable second basemen in all of baseball. Also on offense for the Pirates, Pedro Alvarez smashed 37 homers, finally coming close to reaching his potential.
The Pittsburgh pitching staff was erratic at times, but they got the job done. AJ Burnett once again dazzled in a walk year, throwing 213 innings with 200 strikeouts and a 3.13 ERA. James McDonald threw 195 innings and had a 3.74 ERA, showing flashes of brilliance in his third full-time season in Pittsburgh. The surprise of the rotation was former Twin Francisco Liriano who looked like his old self in 2013, throwing a career high 201 innings and striking out 217 batters for the season with a 3.35 ERA, making his signing this winter look like an absolute bargain, even with all of the drama surrounding his broken arm.
Pittsburgh's bullpen was led by Jason Grilli, who made fans forget about Joel Hanrahan after saving 44 games with a 1.77 ERA and 83 strikeouts. Grilli didn't get a ton of help at the back-end of games from the rest of the relief corps, but Mark Melancon's 2.37 ERA did a lot to help the Pirates out.
The Pirates snuck into the playoffs as the second wild card after an 87 win season, and faced off with the Washington Nationals in the wild card playoff game. Pittsburgh prevailed thanks to masterful pitching from Burnett and a sloppy performance from Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann, and the Pirates moved on to the NLDS to take on the NL Central champion Reds. The Pirates won a thrilling five game series after a big series from Garrett Jones, and two awful starts from Cincinnati starter Aroldis Chapman. Pittsburgh's dream season continued with a six game triumph in the NLCS over the Atlanta Braves, gaining revenge for 1992 when a laser beam throw home by Starling Marte nailed Freddie Freeman at the plate to end game six and hand the Pirates their first pennant since 1979. Finally in the World Series, the Pirates took on highly-priced and heavily hyped Los Angeles Angels, winning in seven games after a brilliant game seven start from Liriano and some timely hitting from McCutchen.
Pittsburgh's World Series run in 2013 will go down as one of the most improbable ever, but Pirates fans don't care how improbable it was: their patience has finally been rewarded with a title.