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Pittsburgh Pirates: 2014 First-Half Report Card

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Pittsburgh Pirates: First-Half Report Card 2014

Andrew McCutchen Pittsburgh Pirates
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The Pittsburgh Pirates had a good first half, and the team is currently in a heated NL Central battle with the Cardinals, Brewers and Reds. Pittsburgh's tremendous hitting has kept them in contention in the Central, but the Pirates' pitching and defense must improve for Clint Hurdle's team to beat out the rest of the division. Here is the Pittsburgh Pirates' 2014 first-half report card.

Offense: A

Andrew McCutchen Pittsburgh Pirates
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Offense: A

Andrew McCutchen Pittsburgh Pirates
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The Pirates rank first in all of baseball with a .333 on-base percentage and eighth in team average at .257. Pittsburgh is led by MVP candidate Andrew McCutchen, who leads the team in every major offensive category. He has a .320 average to go along with 17 homers and 62 RBIs, but the superstar can't win the Central alone. His teammates have performed admirably as well, which is something that bodes well for Pittsburgh's second half.

Defense: F

Neil Walker Pittsburgh Pirates
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Defense: F

Neil Walker Pittsburgh Pirates
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The Pirates rank 28th in the majors with 70 errors committed, and the team's poor defense could cost them ground in the NL Central race if it continues. Jordy Mercer has committed seven errors, and Ike Davis and Andrew McCutchen have both committed five. The Pirates are only a game and a half out in the Central, but poor fielding down the stretch could be costly.

Starting Pitching: B

Charlie Morton Pittsburgh Pirates
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Starting Pitching: B

Charlie Morton Pittsburgh Pirates
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The Pirates rank 11th in the majors with a 3.69 ERA, but the team's starting rotation doesn't have a real ace. Instead, every Pittsburgh starter has been solid while keeping the team in contention in the Central. Charlie Morton leads the team with a 3.28 ERA and 103 strikeouts, while Edinson Volquez has the most wins in the rotation with eight. Gerrit Cole and Francisco Liriano must have better second halves for the Pirates to win the division.

Relief Pitching: A

Mark Melancon Pittsburgh Pirates
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Relief Pitching: A

Mark Melancon Pittsburgh Pirates
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Tony Watson, Jared Hughes and Mark Melancon have all been terrific out of the Pittsburgh bullpen. Watson boasts a 1.36 ERA across 46.1 innings pitched, while Hughes holds a 1.79 ERA in 40.1 innings pitched. Melancon is the current Pirates closer, as he took over for Jason Grilli midway through the season. Good teams always have solid bullpens, and the Pirates are no exception, as the team's bullpen has been a major success factor.

Managing: A-

Clint Hurdle Pittsburgh Pirates
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Managing: A-

Clint Hurdle Pittsburgh Pirates
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Clint Hurdle's Pirates have performed well so far in 2014, and the fans are always happy with the manager when the team is winning. If there is one major critique of Pittsburgh's first-half performance, it's that the team has performed poorly on the road (20-26). If the Pirates can start winning some games on the road, don't be surprised to see the Pittsburgh atop the NL Central at some point in the second half.

Jacob Dennis is a writer at RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter, “Like” him on Facebook, and add him to your network on Google.