The Pittsburgh Pirates have had the rare experience of garnering some prestigious honors since their season ended in the National League Divisional Series. Typically, when the schedule reads 162 games have been completed in Pittsburgh, Pirates fans all retreat into their caves until February when pitchers and catchers do their typical song and dance in Bradenton, FL.
The magical season that was this 2013 season continues, as each week you hear about a Pittsburgh Pirate winning another postseason honor. Every single player for the Pirates that has won an award is more than worthy of the distinguished honor.
The awards started with Francisco Liriano winning the National League “Comeback Player of the Year” for both the Sporting News, as well as the MLB player vote. Clint Hurdle was awarded the “Manager of the Year” award for the National League for the Sporting News, as well as the MLB player vote. Those are pretty prestigious honors, but they didn’t stop there. Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez were each selected as “Silver Slugger” award winners. McCutchen’s slugger award was his second consecutive and Alvarez’s first.
For all of the honors being tossed around, there were still the usual Pirate snubs. McCutchen, Starling Marte and Russell Martin were absolutely robbed of “Golden Glove” awards this year. McCutchen won the award last year, Marte was more than worthy with his play in left field this season, and Russell Martin was one of the best catchers in the game last season for the Pirates.
On top of the snubs, there are still two huge awards left to be handed out that could be great for the Pirates’ organization. Hurdle is a finalist for “Manager of the Year,” and McCutchen is a finalist for the “NL Most Valuable Player” award for the second consecutive year. Bringing home those two honors would certainly be a nice feather in the cap for a great 2013 baseball season in the city of Pittsburgh.
Some might think that these individual honors could deter a team from being focused coming into spring training the following year. The complete opposite is the truth. Players appreciate being appreciated for their excellence on the field, but they all have one common goal. Simply put, to win a championship. Ask McCutchen if he would trade an MVP award for a World Series Championship and the response would be a quick one. The championship.
These awards can only motivate a Pirates team that has a bright future and is viewed as a team on the brink of being great. Under the guidance of Hurdle, there is no doubt that the Pirates should compete for championships for years to come, and with the championships comes many more individual awards.
Jeff Hartman covers the Pittsburgh Steelers for RantSports.com and also contributes for the Penguins and Pirates. Follow him on Twitter @BnGBlitz