As the 2012 MLB postseason draws closer to the World Series, the quality of the competition—along with the intensity and attention to detail—increases exponentially. The performances of those who have been eliminated shouldn’t be overlooked, however, as impressive feats have come from the most unlikely sources—former members of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Baltimore Orioles were eliminated by the New York Yankees in Game 5 of the ALDS Friday, Oct. 12, but that didn’t mask the incredible season the team had this year. Among the surprises was former Pirates outfielder Nate McLouth, who hit .308 with one home run and an AL-leading five RBI during the divisional series.
With the Pirates in 2012, McLouth hit .140 with zero home runs and two RBI in 34 games. After spending time in the minors following his release with the Bucs, McLouth hit .268 with seven home runs, 18 RBI and 12 stolen bases in 55 games with the Orioles.
Atlanta Braves catcher David Ross is another former Pirates position player doing well with his new team. The Pirates traded Ross July 28, 2005 to the San Diego Padres. Since then, he has bounced around with Cincinnati and Boston before winding up with the Braves. Ross went 3-for-4 with one home run and two RBI in the highly controversial National League Wild Card game, which the Braves lost 6-3.
Ross hit .222 with three home runs and 15 RBI in 40 games with the Pirates in 2005. Since then, he has been a serviceable backup, hitting .231 with 65 home runs and 198 RBI in 500 games—or just over three seasons.
Washington Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche arguably had a career year in 2012, hitting .271 with 33 home runs and 100 RBI. LaRoche hit .176 (3-for-17) with two home runs and two RBI during this year’s postseason. During his two-plus seasons with the Pirates (2007-2009), LaRoche hit .265 with 58 home runs and 213 RBI.
Cincinnati Reds outfielder Ryan Ludwick, who spent 38 games in 2011 with the Pirates, hit .333 (6-for-18) with three home runs and four RBI during this year’s postseason. After hitting just .232 with two home runs and 11 RBI in 112 at bats for the Bucs last season, Ludwick clubbed .275 with 26 home runs and 80 RBI with the Reds.
Former Pirates position players haven’t been the only ones enjoying success in the postseason. Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Bronson Arroyo pitched a gem during Game 2 of the NLDS between the Reds and the San Francisco Giants. Arroyo went seven innings, yielding one hit and no runs while striking out four.
Over his three seasons with the Pirates from 2000-2002, Arroyo went 9-14 with a 5.44 ERA and 111 K in 187 innings pitched. The latter part of his career was far more illustrious. Over his 10 seasons with the Boston Red Sox and Cincinnati Reds, he went 115-101, with a 4.19 ERA in Boston and a 4.09 ERA in Cincinnati. Over the 1,889.2 innings pitched, he was also selected as an All-Star and won a Gold Glove.
There is also a former Pirate that is still playing for a shot at the World Series. That player is Detroit Tigers outfielder, and Pittsburgh native, Don Kelly. Kelly had the decisive, walk-off sacrifice fly in Game 2 of the NLDS against the Oakland Athletics. Kelly and the Tigers swept the New York Yankees in Game 4 of the ALCS Thursday and will await the winner of the NLCS as the American League’s representative in the World Series.
Kelly was unimpressive with the Pirates, hitting .148 with zero home runs and zero RBI in 25 games during the 2007 season. From 2009-2012, Kelly hit .235 with 17 home runs and 65 RBI in 338 games.
These types of performances for former players with new teams are nothing new to Pirates fans, but they’re still a constant reminder of what the last 20 years have been lacking in Pittsburgh.