The Pirates are leading the NL Central. I repeat. The Pirates are leading the NL Central. Anyone who had the Pirates leading the NL Central this late in the season also believed that there was gold at the end of the rainbow and that unicorns really exist. The Pirates are in first place in the NL Central and there are three main reason why..
Andrew McCutchen has been the heart and soul of the Pirates this year. He is leading the Pirates in batting average(.277) and homeruns(14). He is fulfilling the promise that all saw in him as he rose through the ranks of the Pirates farm system. McCutchen is the type of player that can have the same kind of effect that the Mets Jose Reyes has on the game because of his electrifying speed, power and his ability to make plays no normal outfielder can make. And the thing that's even more scary about him is he hasn't even reached his prime.
Another big cog on this team is the starting pitching duo of Kevin Correia and Andrew Karstens. These two guys have been the stalwarts of this revamped pitching staff that has an ERA that's almost a full two runs better than last year and has more wins than all of last year already. And even though these guys have done so well, no one even knows who they are still. Its amazing to watch these two guys make a name for themselves. And it will also be amazing to see how they finish the season.
All the things that these three key players have done for the Pirates are great, but the undoubted captain of this ship is manager Clint Hurdle. Yes, the same guy who helped take the Rockies to a new level is now taking another unexpected team to new heights. Maybe its time for people to actually give him credit for what he can do as a manager. He should be the NL Manager of the Year for this outstanding job.
Now with all this said, the season isn't over yet and the Pirates still have to fight off the Cardinals, Reds and Brewers to claim the crown. I think they need to make the move to go after another bat. A rumor floating around is the Pirates will be in the Carlos Beltran sweepstakes, especially if what the Mets are saying is true. The Mets are offering to pay Beltran's contract for the rest of the year in exchange for prospects. If I'm the Pirates, I make that deal. Beltran is having a good year and we all remember what he did for the Astros the last time he was in a contract year. But for now, the Pirates have exceeded expectations and they are to be commended.