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Which of Pittsburgh’s Major League Teams will have the Best Season?

December 20, 2018
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Which of Pittsburgh’s Major League Teams will have the Best Season?

In Pittsburgh, the Pirates, Steelers, and Penguins are all at very different stages of their respective franchise’s current cycles, with the Pirates on the rebuild, the Penguins heading towards a rebuild, and the Steelers forced into taking a step back on the offensive side of the ball.

But, success can be gauged on the team’s results based on the sum of its components, not just on bringing home a trophy. So, which Pittsburgh franchise is set to have the best season?

Pirates Surpass Expectations

Source: MLB&NHL News Now, via Twitter

Having suffered losing seasons in 2016 and 2017, the Pittsburgh Pirates surprised many MLB pundits with some strings of strong performances in 2018, pulling them to a winning record by three games. During the 82-79 season, the Pirates showed that the rebuild is going well, with the pitching staff all but set with Jameson Taillon and Trevor Williams proving their worth in the MLB.

While it wasn’t pretty, for the most part, the 2018 season keeps fans hopeful for the seasons to come. It hasn’t done much to win them favor in the eyes of the experts, sitting as far down as +3500 to win the National League in 2019, but in a season or two, they look set to become a team that can challenge for a place in the postseason.

Penguins Going Well Despite Team Frailties

Source: Sportsnet Stats, via Twitter

In the Metropolitan Division, the young, up-and-coming teams like the Carolina Hurricanes, New Jersey Devils, Philadelphia Flyers, and Columbus Blue Jackets were expected to commence their takeover in the standings, but through the first 32 games, only the latter has proven to be a threat to the long-reining Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Penguins have been somewhat hit and miss throughout the campaign, with the personnel on the top two lines more than carrying the weight of the lackluster bottom sets. But, with Sidney Crosby firing on all cylinders after Evgeni Malkin had a red-hot start to the season, they’ve climbed back into the playoff places. Now, while they’re still at +475 to win the division in the NHL betting and +2500 to win the Stanley Cup for the third time in four seasons, having Crosby continuing to be the best player in the league, and anticipating Malkin’s return to form after three points in eight games from the end of November, the Penguins might just make it to the playoffs and cause some upsets therein.

Steelers Missing Bell May be Their Undoing

Source: Mario Contreras, via Twitter

Unfortunately for the Pittsburgh Steelers, while they started the season very well, the controversy surrounding superstar running back Le’Veon Bell’s contract dominated the headlines. In the end, Bell didn’t rejoin the team, leaving a hole in the backfield. James Conner did admirably to surprise opposing defenses with his rushing ability, but now, having suffered some injury setbacks, the Steelers have become a one-dimensional, pass-crazed team.

Head coach Mike Tomlin claims that the team doesn’t miss Bell, but after those remarks, they endured a three-game losing streak to put their postseason aspirations in jeopardy. On the losing streak, Connor could only amass 53 yards against the Denver Broncos, 60 yards against the Chargers – but did poke in a two-yard rushing touchdown and a four-yard passed score – and then Jaylen Samuels took lead duties with 11 carries for 28 yards against the woeful Oakland Raiders.

It’s a rough ride to the end of the season for the Steelers, but if they make it to the playoffs, they cannot be counted out of a good run given the talent on the team. However, with the likes of the New England Patriots, Kansas City Chiefs, and Los Angeles Chargers all vying for the crown, the current play of the Steelers doesn’t stand much of a chance.

If they continue their current course and make some trades before the deadline, the Penguins look to have the most successful season of all of the Pittsburgh teams, but the Steelers can’t be counted out just yet.

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