In 1967, Sanguillen spent most of the year with Columbus, hitting .258 in 71 contests. He also saw his first major league action, joining the Pirates in late July. In 30 contests with Pittsburgh, he hit .271 with eight RBI while serving as the change-of-pace catcher batting eighth in the order. On September 13th, he went 3-for-5 with a double, a run and an RBI in an 11-3 win against the Cincinnati Reds. The Pirates finished with an 81-81 record, sixth place in the NL.
1968 would see Sanguillen muddling through another minor league season with the Jets, hitting .316 with 60 RBI in 105 contests. He wouldn’t appear in minor league baseball until 1982 (with the Mexican League’s Reynosa Broncos).
In 1969, Sanguillen earned his spot in the major leagues for good, hitting .303 for the Pirates as the team’s primary catcher over 129 contests. He scored 62 runs with 21 doubles, six triples, five home runs and 57 RBI. He ranked fourth in the NL with 825 putouts, third with 11 double plays turned, and fifth with 71 assists from the catcher position. Unfortunately, he also led the league with 17 errors. Pittsburgh liked to use “Sangy” mostly in the five hole, but he appeared between second and seventh in the batting order through the season. In the season opener, he entered the 14th inning of a 2-2 tie with the St. Louis Cardinals, hitting a bases loaded, two-run single for the eventual game winner. On August 2nd, he hit two singles and a triple, scoring twice and knocking in three in a 7-3 win against the San Francisco Giants. The Bucs finished third in the NL East, with an 88-74 record.
In 1970, Sangy raised his average to .325 (NL third) in 128 games. He scored 63 runs, hit 19 doubles, nine triples (NL fifth), and seven home runs with 61 RBI, finishing the season in 11th place in the NL MVP vote. Defensively, he had 775 putouts (NL fifth), 66 assists (NL third), 12 double plays turned (NL second), a .988 fielding percentage (NL fourth), and 33 batters caught stealing (NL third). The Pirates used him in fourth, fifth, and sixth in the order. On April 28th, he hit a solo shot and a two run blast in a 6-1 win against the Chicago Cubs. The Pirates took the NL East at 89-73, five games ahead of the Cubs. In the NLCS (three losses to the Cincinnati Reds), Sanguillen went 2-for-12.
1971 would see Sanguillen earn his first all-star invitation and finish highly in the NL MVP vote, at eighth. He hit .319 (NL sixth) in 138 contests, with 26 doubles, five triples, and seven home runs along with a career high 81 RBI. He also ranked highly with one strikeout per every 16.7 at bats (NL sixth). Defensively, it was more of the same, with 712 putouts (NL fourth), NL leading figures of 72 assists and 12 double plays turned, 36 batters caught stealing (NL second), a 50% CS rate, and an NL second best .994 fielding percentage. The Pirates liked him between fourth and seventh in the order. On June 13th, he hit a single, a triple and a home run, also drawing a walk, scoring three times and knocking in two in an 8-4 victory over the Cardinals. The Pirates repeated as kings of the NL East with a 97-65 record, seven games in front of the Cards. In the Pirates three-games-to-one victory over the Giants, Sangy went 4-for-15 with a walk and a run. Against the Baltimore Orioles in seven World Series contests (Pittsburgh won four of them, giggity), Sangy went 11-for-29 (.379) with a double and three runs scored.
In 1972, Sanguillen continued to give the Pirates offense from the catcher position, hitting .298 over 136 contests. He scored 55 runs, hit 122 singles (NL 10th), 18 doubles, eight triples and seven round trippers with 71 RBI. He also earned his second all-star selection in a row and finished 16th in the NL MVP race batting fifth and sixth in the order. His AB/K rate was a league seventh best 13.7. He had 721 putouts (NL third), 50 assists (NL fifth), and 29 runners caught stealing (NL fifth). On May 24th, he hit four singles and a double, scoring twice in a 9-4, 14-inning victory over the Cardinals. The Pirates won their third consecutive NL East Division Title at 96-59, 11 games ahead of the second place Cubs. In their five game NLCS loss to the Reds, Sangy went 5-for-16 (.313) with a double, a home run, four runs scored and two RBI.
1973 would see Sanguillen post a .282 average in 149 games, with 64 runs scored, a career high tying 26 doubles, seven triples (NL eighth), a career best 12 home runs and 65 RBI. He also had eight sacrifice flies (NL sixth) and struck out once every 20.3 at bats (NL fourth). He batted second through seventh in the lineup (except for cleanup) while splitting his season between catcher and right field. On July 29th, in game two of a double header, he hit a double and a round tripper in a 5-2 win against the Philadelphia Phillies. The team posted a disappointing 80-82 record, finishing in a distant third in the NL East.
In 1974, Sanguillen hit .287 in 151 games with 77 runs scored, hit 139 singles (NL 10th), 21 doubles, four triples, seven home runs, and 68 RBI batting second, fifth, sixth, or seventh. He also finished with a career high AB/K rate of 22.1 (NL fourth). He finished with 713 putouts at C (NL fourth), 76 assists (NL fourth), 51 runners caught stealing (NL first), and a 39.8% CS rate (NL third). On September 25th, he had four RBI while going 3-for-5 with a walk and two runs scored in a 13-12 loss to St. Louis. Pittsburgh finished 88-74, taking the NL East crown by 1.5 games over the Cardinals. In their four game NLCS loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers, Sanguillen went 4-for-16 with a double.
1975 would see Sanguillen post a career high .328 average (NL third) in 133 games. He scored 60 runs with a career high 48 walks, 24 doubles, four triples, nine home runs and 58 RBI. He returned to the all-star team for his third and final invitation, and again finished 16th in the NL MVP vote. He struck out once every 15.5 at bats (NL fifth) and ranked fourth with 650 putouts at catcher. He batted from second, sixth, or seventh in the order. On April 25th, he walked, hit a home run and a single, collecting two RBI in a 3-2 Pirates win against the Phillies.
1976 would see Sanguillen hit .290 in 114 games for the Pirates. He scored 52 runs and hit 16 doubles and six triples with 36 RBI batting second, seventh and eighth in the order (not at the same time). He caught 38 would-be base stealers, good for fourth in the NL. On June 18th, he hit four singles in four trips to the plate, collecting two RBI in a 7-3 win against the Houston Astros. Pittsburgh missed the playoffs by nine games at 92-70, behind the Phillies. After the season, the Pirates sent him to the Oakland Athletics for manager Chuck Tanner (nine seasons, 711-685, WS championship in 1979) and $100,000.
Sanguillen played in a career high 152 games for the A’s in 1977, hitting .275. The Pirates got him back in a trade prior to 1978 for outfielder Miguel Dilone (30 games, .187), pitcher Elias Sosa (one season, 8-2, 2.64), and a player to be named later (middle infielder Mike Edwards (three seasons, 310 games, .252)).
Sanguillen played three more seasons in Steel City, catching and playing first base for 188 contests and hitting .254 with 25 runs, 13 doubles, three triples, three home runs, and 22 RBI. He also went 1-for-3 with an RBI for the Bucs in the 1979 World Series, a seven game triumph over the Baltimore Orioles.
All-Time Statline: 12 seasons, 1296 games, .299/.329/.403, 1343-for-4491, 524 runs, 188 doubles, 52 triples, 59 home runs, 527 RBI, 33 stolen bases, 201 walks, 296 strikeouts, 25.0 wins above replacement.
Wednesday: A first baseman they called "Eagle Eye."