- DJ Gallo, ESPN.com
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Here are the 20 most depressing facts about the Pittsburgh Pirates' 2012 season.
1. The Pirates finished 79-83. That record extended their North American professional sports record for consecutive losing seasons to 20.
2. The Pirates were 16 games over .500 at 63-47 as late as Aug. 8. Their fall from that many games over .500 to a sub-.500 finish is the greatest collapse in the history of Major League Baseball, a league which dates back to the 1800s.
3. The 2011 Pirates also collapsed after being in playoff contention and well above .500, finishing 18-41. So manager Clint Hurdle came up with a motto for 2012. That motto? “Finish.”
4. The Pirates lost their 81st game of 2012, thereby clinching a non-winning season, on Friday, Sept. 28. How did they lose that 81st game? At home. 1-0. By getting no-hit for the first time since 1971.
5. Two games later, the Pirates lost their 82nd game and clinched their 20th consecutive losing season. That historic loss came on Fan Appreciation Day.
6. The 82nd loss came when the Pirates blew a ninth-inning lead. Before that 82nd loss game, the Pirates had been 69-0 on the season when leading after eight innings.
7. The tying run in loss No. 82 came on a home run from Reds bench player Xavier Paul, who played for the Pirates in 2011 and hit two home runs for them in 230 at-bats. The winning run was scored by Denis Phipps, who came in to pinch run after Ryan Ludwick singled. Ludwick was a deadline acquisition for the Pirates in 2011. He performed terribly in Pittsburgh, with two home runs and 11 RBIs in 38 games. In just 14 games against the Pirates in 2012, Ludwick had two home runs and eight RBIs.
8. On July 24, the Pirates made their biggest trade deadline acquisition in modern times, acquiring Wandy Rodriguez from the Astros -- the worst team in baseball. Unfortunately for Rodriguez, over the final two months of the season his new team had a worse record than his old team.
9. On Aug. 17, the Pirates began mailing out playoff ticket ordering instructions to season-ticket holders. Team president Frank Coonelly said he was overjoyed to have to read MLB’s manual on postseason protocol for the first time: “Every year, I took it and tossed it into the corner. Last year, I took it and started dusting it off. This year, we've been very pleased to actually have to go through it in detail." The Pirates went 13-30 from the day that playoff ticket information started showing up in mailboxes.
10. A’s first baseman Brandon Moss fueled Oakland’s playoff run, hitting 20 home runs and knocking in 52 runs since joining the team in June. Moss, a major piece acquired in Pittsburgh’s blockbuster trade of Jason Bay in 2008, was an unmitigated disaster as a Pirate, hitting .228 with 13 home runs and 64 RBIs in three seasons.
11. Orioles outfielder Nate McLouth has played an important role in getting Baltimore into the playoffs. McLouth hit .140 with the Pirates this season before getting released in May.
12. In the offseason, the Pirates signed 33-year-old free agent shortstop Clint Barmes to a two-year, $10.5 million contract. Barmes hit .229 and had a .272 OBP. Also in the offseason, the Pirates released 27-year-old shortstop Pedro Ciriaco. He became a regular for the Red Sox from July on and hit .293 with a .315 OBP and 16 steals in 19 attempts.
13. The Pirates were dead-last in stealing bases in baseball with a 58 percent success rate. Andrew McCutchen, thought by many to be the fastest player in baseball, was successful only 62 percent of the time -– a rate worse than any team in baseball (other than the Pirates).
14. McCutchen ended play on Aug. 3 hitting .373. Buster Posey’s average on that date stood at .325. McCutchen lost the batting title to Posey by nine points.
15. The Pirates threw out just 19 of 173 attempted base stealers all season –- an 11 percent success rate, dead-last in baseball by a large margin.
16. In the offseason, the Pirates signed 37-year-old free-agent catcher Rod Barajas to a one-year, $4 million deal with a club option for 2013 of $3.5 million. Barajas hit .206. Also in the offseason, the Pirates chose not to offer a free-agent contract to 31-year-old incumbent catcher Ryan Doumit. Doumit signed a two-year, $7 million contract with the Twins and hit .275 with 18 home runs and 75 RBIs. The Twins threw out 18 percent of attempted base-stealers.
17. On Sept. 7, in what would become the first loss in a seven-game losing streak that essentially ended their playoff hopes, the Pirates made seven errors against the Cubs.
18. The Pirates had a September schedule that was ideal for a playoff contender, getting to play the Astros, Cubs and Mets a total of 17 times. They went 6-11 in those games.
19. At one point this season, the Pirates were more than 10 games ahead of both the Brewers and Phillies -– the closest teams they have to rivals after 20 seasons of irrelevancy. Both teams finished with a better record.
20. Pittsburgh’s 79 wins ties for the most the franchise has had in a season since 1992.