A is for Attendance. The Pirates drew 2,442,564 fans to PNC Park this season to set an new franchise attendance record.
B for Bumgarner, as in Madison Bumgarner. Bumgarner dominated the Pirates in a complete game shutout at PNC Park in the N.L Wild Card Game to end their 2014 season
C is for Cutch. Star CF Andrew McCutchen had another fine season and once against was an MVP candidate. He may not win the MVP award this season, but he is a virtual lock for his 3rd straight top 5 finish.
D is for Diamondbacks. A series against the Diamondbacks from August 1st – 3rd turned into a brutal beanball war that ultimately ended with the Pirates losing Andrew McCutchen for several weeks with a broken rib.
E is for Eddie V. Edinson Volquez was brought in as a free agent to replace A.J. Burnett in the rotation. Many, including myself, thought it was a bad signing. But Eddie V turned out to be better than expected. He still shouldn’t have been the starting pitcher in the Wild Card Game though.
F is for Frieri, as in Ernesto Frieri. The Pirates acquired relief pitcher Ernesto Frieri in late June from the Angels. Frieri was a disaster. On July 8th he gave up walk-off home run to Cardinals second basemen Kolten Wong. Frieri continued to suck for another month before the Pirates DFA’d him on August 8th.
G is for Grilli. Jason Grilli entered the season as the Pirates closer, but after a string of blown saves he was dealt to the Angels for Ernesto Frieri on June 27th.
H is for Hit By Pitch. Pirate pitchers are taught to aggressively pitch inside. One of the byproducts of that approach is that they hit a lot of batters. The Pirate pitching staff hit 88 batters which led the league by a wide margin.
I is for Ike. The Pirates acquired 1B Ike Davis from the Mets on April 18th. Ike spent most of the summer taking pitches, even when they were 3rd strikes.
J is for JHay. Josh Harrison was the Pirates surprise hero of the season. JHay’s rise from bench player to all-star was meteoric. He started the year as essentially the 25th man on the roster. By season’s end he was the leadoff hitter, starting 3B, and one of the most important players on the team. JHay could seemingly do anything… including Houdiniesque escapes from rundowns.
K is for Ks. Pirate hitters had significantly fewer of them this season. Under new hitting coach Jeff Branson the Pirates struck out 86 times less than in 2013.
L is for Lunchbox. Lunchbox is the nickname of Pirates RF Travis Snider. Snider has been much maligned for most of his tenure with the Pirates, but he had something of a breakout season in 2014 and eventually earned the starting RF job.
M is for Marte. After struggling for much of the 1st half of the season Starling Marte turned his season around after returning from a brief stay on the DL in late July. Marte was one of the hottest hitters in baseball over the last two months of the season.
N is for “No Move is the Right Move”. That was GM Neal Huntington’s explanation for why he didn’t make any trades to strengthen the team at the deadline.
O is for offense. This was the Pirates strongest offensive team since the early 90′s. They posted a 109 wRC+ (weighted run created plus) which was 4th best in the baseball and the highest total by a Pirates team since 1991.
P is for Polanco. Highly touted prospect Gregory Polanco made his debut on June 10th. He got off to a hot start but struggled in July and August. Eventually he was benched and sent back down to the minors.
Q is for qualifying offer. According to the front office the Pirates could not afford to offer one to A.J. Burnett.
R is for Russ, as in catcher Russell Martin. Martin is always great defensively, but this season he had a career year offensively too. Russ is a soon to be free agent and much of the talk this summer centered around whether or not the Pirates would be able to sign him to a new contract that would keep him in Pittsburgh.
S is for Sanchez. The Pirates have two of them and neither one did much this season.
T is for TOOTBLAN. The Pirates base running was comically bad at times this season. This incident was by far the worst offense.
U is for useless. Useless describes the Pirates bench in early August that consisted of Michael Martinez, Jayson Nix, and Brent Morel while a number of key players were on the disabled list.
V is for Vanimal, the nickname of pitcher Vance Worley. Worley became the latest pitcher the Pirates were able to find on the scrap heap and transform into a quality starting pitcher.
W is for walk-off. The Pirates had 10 walk-off wins in 2014 including this game winning home run by Neil Walker on opening day.
X is for xFIP. xFIP is a better predictor of future performance for pitchers than ERA. Vance Worley and Edinson Volquez both significantly outperformed their xFIP which means they probably won’t be as good next season.
Y is for yips. Pedro Alvarez had a very bad case of the yips this season. Alvarez led all of baseball with 24 throwing errors.
Z is for Zoltan. For the 3rd straight summer Pirate players flashed the Zoltan Z sign after getting a hit. The team didn’t start the season using the Z, but they brought it back in late April after an early season slump.