You don’t think of the Pirates as having an impact on any pennant race given that they, well, suck – but they certainly did this year. They had 3 noticable impacts.
Wanna know why the Cubs had their winningest season in 63 years? Blame Pittsburgh. The Cubs loaded up on them, going 14-4, catapulting them to 97 wins. That’s nothing, though.
Forget the Cubs, the Pirates had a huge impact on the other side of town. They played the White Sox in interleauge play, and got swept three games to zilch. Without that sweep, Minnesota is a lot happier today.
Last but not least, is Pittsburgh’s massive impact on the NL Wild Card race. In 15 games against Milwaukee, Pittsburgh posted a 1-14 record. In other words, the Pirates went 5-31 against Lake Michigan franchises. Here are team winning percentages of all NL Wild Card hopefuls if you exclude Pittsburgh games (record against Pitt in parathesis):
NYM .548 (4-3)
STL .545 (7-10)
HOU .537 (8-8)
FLA .519 (3-2)
MIL .517 (14-1)
Much to my disappointment, Pittsburgh didn’t tilt either the NL West or NL East races, though they made both ever so slightly tighter.