The Pittsburgh Pirates were an interesting team from a statistical standpoint. Their 61-101 record is remarkable when one considers that their team leader in victories, Chris Stratton, was a reliever. Nonetheless, his seven wins were far more than any of their starters posted, as no one in the rotation had more than five wins.
If it seems as though this has not happened in a long time, that is because that is the case. The Pirates have joined the 1899 Cleveland Spiders and the 1890 Pittsburgh Alleganys as the only teams to have no starter win more than five games in a 100+ game schedule.
Pittsburgh Pirates meet 19th century level of frustration
To be fair to the Pirates, they did have four pitchers who spent at least half their time in the rotation come close. Chad Kuhl, JT Brubaker, Tyler Anderson, and Mitch Keller all won five games during their time in Pittsburgh. Anderson won seven games on the year, but five came before he was traded away.
The 1899 Spiders were in an unfortunate situation. Their roster had been dismantled to build a superteam in St. Louis, leaving behind a team that likely would have struggled in the various independent leagues of the time. The fact that Jim Hughey and Charlie Knepper were able to win four games each on a team that won just 20 games and did not have a single player worth at least 1.0 bWAR on the roster is somewhat impressive.
It is also interesting that the 1890 Alleghenys are on this list. They are the predecessors to the current Pirates, leaving the franchise with two of the three instances where this happened. Unlike the Spiders, this level of futility was entirely unintentional.
That Alleghenys team managed a 23-112-2 record, finishing 66.5 games out of first in the National League. Billy Gumbert, who won four games in his ten outings, was one of the better pitchers on the roster despite a 5.22 ERA and a 1.601 WHiP. He would later resurface in Pittsburgh in 1892 where he found success, before ending his time in the majors the following year in Louisville.
The Pirates had to know that 2021 would be rough. They are still in the midst of their rebuilding process, looking to find pieces that will allow them to contend in the future. However, they could not have possibly imagined that they would be the first team in the modern era to play a 100+ game schedule and not have a starter win at least five games.
The Pittsburgh Pirates found a level of futility that has not been seen since the 19th century. None of their starters won more than five games all year.