By Zach Morrison @Zach_Morrison1 on July 3, 2014
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.
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.
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.
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+.
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.
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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