Buster Olney's latest post (Insider-only) examines why there's hope for each of the 30 teams. As you might expect, there's a lot of positivity going around here, but even so, his note on the Pirates is glowing.
Pittsburgh Pirates: The franchise just gets better and better, from anchor Andrew McCutchen all the way through the depth of its 40-man roster, and more and more the Pirates are viewed within the sport as a club with a culture of success. Pittsburgh is a place where pitchers turn around their careers, where there is a next-level employment of defensive metrics, where you go to find a manager, such as Jeff Banister (hired by the Rangers). Other teams are trying to emulate what they do.
The Banister hire was significant, especially since Rangers GM Jon Daniels said specifically at the time that he had thought the Rangers were doing well employing sabermetric analysis, but he learned from the interview process that wasn't the case. And, obviously, the way pitchers like Francisco Liriano and Edinson Volquez have rebuilt their value in Pittsburgh, going on to land contracts worth many times what the Pirates originally signed them for, speaks for itself. In particular, if you're a pitcher with ground ball tendencies, there's no better team for you right now than the Pirates.