Well, this year is going to be that year.
This morning, the Bucs stand at 34-20, their .630 winning percentage the second best in the major leagues. Unfortunately for them, they share the division with the St. Louis Cardinals, owners of the best record in baseball, and trail them by 1 1/2 games.
But the feeling here is they will catch the Cardinals and win the division. The Pirates are winning all the close games they were losing last year and its unsung heros like Neil Walker, Russell Martin, and Starling Marte, all good but not great ballplayers, are coming through in the clutch. Their starting pitching and, of course, their bullpen, has been unbelieveable, and there is no reason to think that with another year of pennant race experience under their belts, they will meltdown like they did late last season.
Their wild card here is their big bats. Wait until the Andrew McCutcheon's, the Garrett Jones' and the Pedro Alvarez' of the team get hot. When they inevitably do, Pittsburgh will have an excellent chance of putting some distance between them and the rest of the NL Central.