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Pittsburgh Pirates Out To Prove They Are The Cream Of NL Central Crop

Tony Sanchez and Andrew McCutchen

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

You could look online at expert analysis, talk to anyone who follows MLB or even watch any sports show dedicating time to baseball, and when they predict who will win the NL Central, the answer is never the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The general majority will say the St. Louis Cardinals will walk away with the Central with the rest saying that the Cincinnati Reds have the best chance at picking off the Cardinals for the top spot in the division.

What about the Pirates? What about the team that is essentially the same team as last season, made the NLDS and was one win away from advancing to the NLCS? What about the team that has the reigning NL MVP patrolling center field? What about the team that rattled off 94 wins last year?

As always, no one truly believes the Pirates can repeat the improbable and repeat what they did in 2013. Some say the Pirates caught lightning in a bottle last year, but I say this team is more legitimate than anyone gives them credit for.

The Pirates aren’t a team that is going to hit you to death. No, they are going to win by pitching and solid defense. But last time I checked, even in 2014 you can still win a lot of baseball games with that equation. It’s difficult for the opponent to win baseball games when you can’t score runs.

The Pirates are marching through their NL Central month of April and are doing it at a surprising clip. So far, through the first seven games, the Pirates are 5-2 and showing that intimidation is only a word used when they are intimidating the opponents. No longer is the stage “too big” for this team. No, they’ve been there and done that, and their play on the field is showing that maturity.

Will there be peaks and valleys along the way for these “Battlin’ Bucs”? Certainly, that is guaranteed to happen throughout the course of a 162 game schedule. But don’t think this team isn’t poised to not only contend for the playoffs, but for the division.

This year there is no talk of ending “the streak” or just making the playoffs. This year the goal is a championship, and that’s just the way it should be.

Jeff Hartman covers the Pittsburgh Steelers for RantSports.com and also contributes for the Penguins and Pirates. Follow him on Twitter @BnGBlitz and add him on Google+.

Related:

NL Central Month Of April Critical For The Pittsburgh Pirates