5 Biggest Surprises Through First Half of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Season

5 Surprises from Pittsburgh Pirates' First Half of 2014 Season

Andrew McCutchen Pittsburgh Pirates
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Pirates got off to a poor start, but have since been one of the hottest teams in baseball. At 44-40, and 8-2 in their last 10 games, the Pirates are right back in the thick of things in the NL. Aside from their surprising bad start, here are five other surprises that the Pirates have seen this season.

5. The Pirates' Offense is Elite?

Gregory Polanco Pittsburgh Pirates
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

5. The Pirates' Offense is Elite?

Gregory Polanco Pittsburgh Pirates
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

If you buy into sabermetrics such as wRC+, then this should make you happy if you're a Pirates fan. Based solely on their 104 wRC+, the Bucs have the sixth-best offense in all of baseball. Much of this is because of their new approach at the plate -- seeing more pitches, drawing more walks -- which leads to more men on the bases, thus leading to more runs.

4. Russell Martin is a Legitimate Offensive Threat

Russell Martin Pittsburgh Pirates
Kim Klement-USA Today Sports

4. Russell Martin is a Legitimate Offensive Threat

Russell Martin Pittsburgh Pirates
Kim Klement-USA Today Sports

In just 197 plate appearances this year, Martin has a .274/.413/.395 batting line, while walking in 14.2 percent of his trips to the plate. He's always been an elite defensive catcher, but he has proven to be an offensive threat this year as well.

3. Josh Harrison is an Everyday Player, Maybe

Josh Harrison Pittsburgh Pirates
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

3. Josh Harrison is an Everyday Player, Maybe

Josh Harrison Pittsburgh Pirates
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Due to his career .264/.298/.392 line, Josh Harrison was never viewed as more than a utility player on the bench, with his only value coming in the NL. Now, however, Harrison seems to be developing into more than that. In 226 plate appearances in 2014, Harrison is hitting .299/.338/.445 with a 123 wRC+.

2. Tony Watson is a Dominant Reliever

Tony Watson Pittsburgh Pirates
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

2. Tony Watson is a Dominant Reliever

Tony Watson Pittsburgh Pirates
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

He has always been a reliable reliever for the Pirates, but Tony Watson is now looking like an elite lefty out of the 'pen. In 38.2 innings, Watson has a 0.93 ERA this season for the Bucs.

1. After Losing Command in Second Half of 2013, Jeff Locke is Back

Jeff Locke Pittsburgh Pirates
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

1. After Losing Command in Second Half of 2013, Jeff Locke is Back

Jeff Locke Pittsburgh Pirates
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

An All-Star in 2013, Jeff Locke fell apart in the second half due to a complete loss of the strike zone. In 2014, Locke is back to his All-Star self; in 41.2 innings the lefty has a 3.46 ERA, with just 1.08 BB/9. Unlike last year, when Locke's ERA looked unsustainable, his 2.91 FIP this year makes it seem like his ERA may even get better.

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