The Pirates finished 69-93 last year, capping off another disappointing season. It marked their third sub-.500 season in four years and their third consecutive season finishing fourth or worse in the NL Central. Things were once bright in Pittsburgh as the Pirates reached the playoffs in 2013, but were nudged out of the NLDS by the Cardinals in five games. They reached the NL Wild Card game in the ensuing two years but lost both times. They haven’t come close since.
After the 2019 season, the Pirates went on to fire team president Frank Coonelly, GM Neal Huntington, manager Clint Hurdle, and pitching coach Ray Searage. They would go on to be replaced, respectively, by Travis Williams, Ben Cherington, Derek Shelton, and Oscar Marin. The Pirates were attempting to start a new chapter for the 2020 season.
The Atheltic’s Stephen J. Nesbitt polled 1,117 Pirates fans about a wide range of topics, including their enthusiasm for the 2020 season (if and when it begins) and their approval of the job owner Bob Nutting has done with the team. Most of the prompts called respondents to assign a numerical value to the question. For example, for the question, “What is your excitement level for the Pirates in 2020?” fans responded with a 1 for “I don’t care” all the way up to a 5 for “I’m extremely excited.” 22.7 percent of respondents put down a 1 and another 32.5 percent felt they were a 2. Together, ones and twos accounted for over half of the respondents.
35.7 percent of respondents put down a 1 for the prompt, “In the past five years, your interest in the pirates has…” and another 23.6 percent put down a 2. Together, they account for about three out of every five respondents.
An overwhelming 71.6 percent of respondents rated Nutting’s performance as a 1, for “poor” and another 21.4 percent categorized themselves as a 2. Only three respondents — 0.3 percent — gave Nutting a 5 and 10 (0.9%) gave him a 4.
Nesbitt also allowed fans to describe their feelings about Nutting. The most commonly used words and phrases were “cheap,” “sell the team,” “spend,” “businessman,” and “worst owner.”
PECOTA, from Baseball Prospectus, projected the Pirates to finish last in the NL Central again this year with a 70-92 record. Perhaps the club wasn’t going to write a new chapter after all.