The 2013 Pittsburgh Pirates' season ended before the team would have liked, but members of the organization are now starting to garner attention for the incredible turnaround this year. Just weeks removed from carrying the burden of the longest streak of consecutive losing seasons in North American team sports history, the Pittsburgh Pirates took the St. Louis Cardinals, the eventual National League champions, to a decisive fifth game in the National League Division Series.
Hurdle, who was hired as manager in 2010, won the Sporting News' 2013 NL Manager of the Year award Tuesday. The publication started awarding the honor in 1936, as managers of each respective league vote on each ballot.
Five votes were enough to give Hurdle the nod over second-place manager Fredi Gonzalez (three votes) of the Atlanta Braves.
The Pirates championed one of the best bullpens in the game, owning a 2.89 ERA along with 55 saves. Opponents managed a .621 OPS against the Shark Tank which ranked the staff second in MLB.
Offense provides one area for improvement for the Pirates, as the team ranked near the bottom of the league in most areas. A .245 average overall and a .229 average with runners in scoring position leaves a lot to be desired.
The starting staff provided some stability, and Liriano was an integral part in that equation.
Liriano received the Sporting News' 2013 NL Comeback Player of the Year award Monday. In 161 innings pitched, Liriano went 16-8 with a 3.02 ERA and 163 strikeouts. The lefty was also solid in the crucial wild-card game against the Cincinnati Reds, lasting seven innings while surrendering one earned run on four hits.
The status of Liriano was in doubt from the beginning of spring training, however, as he suffered a freak injury that resulted in his absence from the team until May 11 when he made his first start.
Three Pirates wound up in the top five of the NL voting, but Liriano was the runaway winner, taking home 58 votes. Mark Melancon took second with eight votes, and Marlon Byrd was third with six votes. Much like the Sporting News' Manager of the Year award, players for each respective league made up the voting contingent for the award.