MLB 2017 Preview Pittsburgh Pirates - The Pittburgh Pirates are coming off a 2016 campaign that saw them play nearly .500 ball, going 78-83-1 to finish third in the National League Central. The slight dip saw them fail to break even and make the playoffs for the first time since 2011.

A lot of the reason for the slide with the Pirates came because center fielder Andrew McCutchen had the worst statistical season of his pro career, batting just .256. That is a far cry from the .327 of his MVP year and McCutchen was mentioned in trade rumors a lot as the season wore on last year. The now 30 year old could be trade bait early if the Pirates stumble out of the blocks. The team is also going to have to potentially prepare to be without third baseman Jung Ho Kang who is facing a 3rd DUI in his home country of Korea as well as sexual assualt charges in Chicago.

Pittsburgh is reshaping their outfield to make room for former top prospect Greg Polanco in left. Pittsburgh's one all-star Starling Marte will take over in center field, but for Pittsburgh to improve on last year they are going to need McCutchen and Polanco to bat higher than last year's .250 mark.

MLB 2017 Preview Pittsburgh Pirates
The atarting pitching is anchored by Gerrit Cole, who is also coming off a down year, but a return to 2015 form would be a good thing for Pitt. It would also be good if Jameson Taillon could stay healthy. Ivan Nova pitched well afte rcoming over from the Yankees and the lone free agent signing of note came in the bullpen as they signed Daniel Hudson to a two year deal. *Hudson could help bolster the pen or he could take over as the closer if the Pirates trade current closer, lefty Tony Watson.

MLB 2017 Preview Pittsburgh Pirates / Into boxing as well? Check out all the boxing news and features at The Sweet Science, where the best boxing writers write.