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Pirates are No. 13 in ESPN's early 2018 MLB power rankings

Matt Rosenberg
| Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017, 10:06 a.m.
Pirates outfielders Starling Marte, Andrew McCutchen and Gregory Polanco celebrate after defeating the Brewers, 4-3, Tuesday, July 18, 2017, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates outfielders Starling Marte, Andrew McCutchen and Gregory Polanco celebrate after defeating the Brewers, 4-3, Tuesday, July 18, 2017, at PNC Park.

The Pirates have a chance to maybe be somewhat halfway decent next year.

That's basically what ESPN says in their way-too-early 2018 MLB power rankings .

The rankings, which were posted just after the Houston Astros won the World Series in Game 7 on Wednesday night, have the Pirates, who were 75-87 this year, at No. 13 for next year, with part of the following explanation:

“Gregory Polanco was a huge letdown with a .251 average and just 11 home runs. They ended up with Andrew McCutchen back in center, where he remains a defensive liability. If (Starling) Marte and Polanco bounce back and Josh Bell continues to improve, the offense could be pretty good (though Jung Ho Kang's visa issues remain, and there's no guarantee he'll be back). The biggest key, however, is better results from Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon and maybe a second-half call-up for Mitch Keller.”

Did you get all that? If PED-suspended Starling Marte (77 games, .275, 7 HR, 38 RBI) doesn't miss 80-plus games, and if Gregory Polanco (108 games, .251, 11 HR, 35 RBI) has a better season, and if Josh Bell (159 games, .255, 26 HR, 96 RBI) keeps on keeping on, and if Gerrit Cole (12-12, 4.26 ERA) and Jameson Taillon (8-7, 4.44 ERA) pitch better, the Pirates might be not that bad!

They were well within the bottom half of the league's 30 teams in 2017 with a .463 winning percentage.

The world champion Astros and runner-up Los Angeles Dodgers take home the Nos. 1 and 2 spots. As for the Pirates' NL Central rivals, the Chicago Cubs come in at No. 8, St. Louis Cardinals No. 9, Milwaukee Brewers No. 11, and Cincinnati Reds No. 25.

The Pirates also have 80-1 odds of winning the World Series next year.

Those odds could improve if, you know, all that bad stuff from last year turns into good stuff.

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