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    Why were Pirates so bad for so long?

    The Pirates are poised to end their playoff drought.
    Sarah Conard/REUTERS
    The Pirates are poised to end their playoff drought.

    After a major league-record 20 consecutive losing seasons, the Pirates (71-49 entering the weekend) look like a cinch to clinch their first winning campaign since 1992.

    Since then the Bucs have finished an average of 21½ games behind each year, only coming within five games of .500 three times.

    Draft day was a major cause of their problems. Despite picking in the top 10 15 times and never lower than 19th, they missed way more often than they hit.

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    Their biggest mistakes:

    2012 P Mark Appel (8th overall pick):

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    Outcome: He didn’t sign

    Passed on: Too early to say, but Appel was No. 1 overall pick in 2013 by Astros

    2010 P Jameson Taillon (2d)

    Outcome: Promoted to Triple A in July

    Passed on: 3B Manny Machado (3d), P Matt Harvey (7th), P Chris Sale (13th)

    2008 3B Pedro Alvarez (2d)

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    Outcome: His 162-game average in four seasons -- 29 homers and 196 whiffs

    Passed on: C Buster Posey (5th)

    2007 P Daniel Moskos (4th)

    Outcome: 4.99 ERA in four seasons at Triple A

    Passed on: C Matt Wieters (5th), P Madison Bumgarner (10th)

    2006 P Brad Lincoln (4th)

    Outcome: 7-9, 4.62 ERA in 22 appearances; traded in 2012

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    Passed on: P Clayton Kershaw (7th); P Tim Lincecum (10th), P Max Scherzer (11th)

    2004 C Neil Walker (11th)

    Outcome: Walker has turned into a serviceable second baseman

    Passed on: P Jered Weaver (12th), 1B/DH Billy Butler (14th)

    2002 P Bryan Bullington (1st)

    Outcome: 1-9, 5.62 ERA in 26 appearances for four teams. Out of baseball since 2010

    Passed on: P Zack Greinke (6th), 1B Prince Fielder (7th), P Cole Hamels (17th)

    1999 P Bobby Bradley (8th)

    Outcome: Never made it past Triple A in six seasons

    Passed on: P Barry Zito (9th), P Brett Myers (12th), OF Alex Rios (19th)

    1996 P Kris Benson (1st)

    Outcome: 70-75, 4.42 ERA in nine seasons for five teams

    Passed on: 3B Eric Chavez (10th)

    1995 SS Chad Hermansen (10th)

    Outcome: A .195 hitter in six major league seasons with four teams

    Passed on: P Roy Halladay (17th)

    1994 SS Mark Farris (11th)

    Outcome: Never got above Double A in four seasons

    Passed on: SS Nomar Garciaparra (12th), 1B Paul Konerko (13th), C Jason Varitek (14th)