With just two series left to play, the season for the Pittsburgh Pirates is officially coming to a close. There were plenty of memorable moments this season as we snapped the 100-game loss stretch that clouded over us for two years. There were also just as many blunders to talk about as the Buccos never fail to disappoint in that department. Win, lose or draw, the important thing is that we had fun this year. With that spirit in mind, we’re going to have a little bit more fun with some superlatives to wrap up the Pirates’ 2023 season.
Best storyline: Andrew McCutchen returns to Pittsburgh
It only feels right to kickoff this list with probably the most impactful story of the season, as we finally welcomed back the best Pirate of the century in Andrew McCutchen. I was actually on leave at the time of his return this past winter, so naturally I thought that the billboards were for me. Upon further inspection I realized it was for ‘Cutch, but I was still just as excited. There were times where it felt like this was a retirement tour of sorts, but McCutchen still contributed meaningful baseball and looks to have a little more in the tank to continue and hopefully finish out his career as a Pirate.
Welcome home Cutch!— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) January 20, 2023
We have signed Andrew McCutchen to a one-year contract for the 2023 season. pic.twitter.com/ozU47E4Pm5
Biggest winner: Tie between David Bednar and Paul Skenes
This next category features two of Pittsburgh’s elite pitching talents, as reliever David Bednar was named to the All-Star team, and Paul Skenes was drafted number one overall after winning the College-World Series with LSU. Bednar was far in a way the most consistent member of this Buccos team, striking out 75 batters with an ERA of 2.08 and record of 3-2. As stated previously, Bednar was an All-Star this season, and also participated in the World Baseball Classic for The United States. As for Skenes, he quickly became one of the most high-profile prospects in all of baseball, with very few remembering a more polished college pitcher in recent memory. Skenes shot up the ranks in Minor League ball, ending his season in double-a Altoona as he prepares to make the jump to Pittsburgh next year... he is also dating LSU gymnast Livvy Dunne, so props to him for that as well.
Biggest headscratcher: Why did we trade all of our first basemen?
I remember sitting in my grandmother’s house in the middle of the season when I found out that we had traded Carlos Santana to the division rival Milwaukee Brewers. Immediately, I questioned the move, as he was by far our best first baseman. Not only defensively, but this was coming off the heels of Santana’s walk-off homer against those same Brewers, as he was regularly getting on base and going yard in the process. Outside of his prime? Sure. Was he our best option at first base and still playing fairly well? ABSOLUTLEY! Again, I didn’t understand it then, and I don’t understand it now, as it has been a revolving door at first since then. His time with the team was brief but I loved having Carlos Santana on the squad. Shoutout to all my fellow first basemen out there.
Carlos Santana will live on in Pirates history for this moonshot walk-off pic.twitter.com/LtdPxtsKAl— Austin Bechtold (@AustinRBechtold) July 27, 2023
Biggest disappointment: I am at a loss for words for Quinn Priester
I’m watching the game the other night and I get a text from a buddy back home, wondering what I think about pitcher Quinn Priester. More specifically, he was wondering what I thought was wrong with him, as he has just not looked good at all in the Major Leagues. This is a guy that I was really high on for a while now, and I was very hyped when he made the jump to Pittsburgh. A 7.86 and worst ERA later, and he was back in Indy playing Triple-A ball. I don’t know what to think of Priester at this point, but I was sure excited for the first three innings of his debut. He’s got a good three innings in him, and then he gives up more free runs than discount laxatives.
Biggest underdog: You guessed it, I’m saying Jack Suwinski
I don’t care anymore, I’ve said it before and I’m more than happy to say it again; I love watching Jack Suwinski kill a baseball. He’s leading the team in homeruns this season as he has put more balls into the stands than any other Pirate. Defensively, he is solid and has proven to be athletic enough to play centerfield. I’m a firm believer that next season could be huge for Suwinski as he looks to build upon his stellar first full year in Pittsburgh. Not to mention he’s a Christian leader in the locker room, and I will always appreciate that more than stats.
Jack Suwinski breaks the ice for the Buccos! pic.twitter.com/2gK0kNvpOi— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) September 24, 2023
Biggest move: Holy cow we actually extended Bryan Reynolds
The disgruntled outfielder that was Bryan Reynolds was a dark cloud looming over the offseason and Spring Training, but it’s now something we can all look back at and laugh about since he’s now the richest player in team history. April 25th was the day that saw owner Bob Nutting do the unthinkable and spend some money and committing to keeping an All-Star in town, and Reynolds started off really hot. Through lingering injuries and inconsistencies at the plate, there is more to be seen from Reynolds, but he is once again a guy who I believe has a good foundation for next season.
Bryan Reynolds has left the building. pic.twitter.com/mf1ojtk60e— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) September 10, 2023
Biggest win: The biggest comeback for the Pirates since 1882
This past weekend, the surging Cincinnati Reds were dealt a massive blow by the Pirates, as the team overcame a nine-run deficit for the first time since the team’s inception. There was a lot of ups and downs this season for our ball club, but a massive win over a division rival late in the season is the icing on the cake. That win will likely keep the Reds from a Wild Card berth, and for the Pirates, it’s certainly one to build on heading into next season.
The Pirates comeback from last night in under one minute: pic.twitter.com/YG2UynUZWL— In the Yard (@IntheYardPod) September 24, 2023
There is so much that can be said about this Pirates team, but seven superlatives to wrap up the season should do the trick. We laughed, we cried and we raised the Jolly Roger all at the same time.