Pittsburgh Pirates: Marlon Byrd Will Lead Team in Taking Back First Place in the NL Central
When the July 31 trade deadline came and went, many questioned why the Pittsburgh Pirates chose to stay pat. Their offense, while good, was missing that one final piece, a big bat who could also play the outfield. And while the St. Louis Cardinals made trades to fill in their holes, Pittsburgh seemed content with what they had.
Maybe it wasn’t until the Cardinals took over the NL Central recently, though, that Pittsburgh realized their lack of moves at the trade deadline had the potential to hurt in the stretch run. Maybe it was falling back into second that gave the Pirates the kick in the pants they needed to go out and get that bat.
As it turns out, while waiting didn’t do the Pirates any favors, they certainly got the bat they needed, perhaps even the best one available as they finally pulled the trigger on what should be lauded as a great move. It was announced Tuesday that the Pirates had completed a trade with the New York Mets to acquire Marlon Byrd and John Buck.
Byrd, while far from his best years, is enjoying a bit of a renaissance in New York and is currently among the top candidates to win the NL Comeback Player of the Year award. In 117 games, the 35-year-old rental is hitting .285 with 21 home runs and 71 RBI, his highest total since 2009 and this season isn’t even over yet. Byrd’s 21 home runs are also the most he has hit in a single season in his career, proving the confines of Citi Field may not be as treacherous as they once were.
Byrd should slide right into the fifth or sixth spot, instantly bolstering what has been as of late a very weak and quiet offensive attack. His addition would enable Clint Hurdle to move the struggling Garrett Jones down in the order and once again have a power threat in the middle of the order. The team has scuffled at times to score runs and to knock in runs, once again something Byrd has done with consistency and quite well this year.
After 20 years of futility and failing to even post a winning record, Pittsburgh knows their time is now. Ultimately the Pirates will still have tough competition with the veteran and playoff experience of the battle-tested Cardinals, but with Byrd, the team is in a much better position to go toe-to-toe with St. Louis for the division crown.