Paul Waner was born April 16th, 1903 in Harrah, OK. Known as "Big Poison," (his little brother Lloyd was known as "Little Poison"), he debuted at the "AA" level with the San Francisco Seals in the Pacific Coast League. He played three seasons there, totaling 446 games and hitting .378, collecting 609 hits, including 189 for extra bases. After the 1925 season, he was sent to the Pirates as part of a conditional deal.
1926 would see Waner join the defending World Champion Pirates in right field. He led the team with 35 doubles (NL fourth), 22 triples (NL first), eight home runs, and 66 walks (NL second). He also hit .336 (NL fifth) in 144 games, scoring 101 runs (NL second) with 79 RBI, 11 stolen bases, and 12 sacrifice hits and finished 12th for NL MVP. He led the NL with a 5.3 WAR, ranked third with a .413 OBP, a .528 SLG, and a .941 OPS. Defensively, he made 299 putouts (NL second in RF), 21 assists (NL third out of outfielders), and a .976 fielding percentage (NL fourth). He had 55 multi hit games on the season. On June 25th, he went five-for-five with a double, a triple, three runs and an RBI in a 9-8 loss to the Cincinnati Reds. In a 15-7 win over the New York Giants on August 26th, he went six-for-six with two doubles, a triple, a run, and two RBI. Pittsburgh went 84-69, finishing the season with the third best record in the National League.
In 1927, Waner won the NL MVP, leading the senior circuit with 155 games, 709 plate appearances, 237 hits, 18 triples, 131 RBI, a .380 batting average, and 342 total bases. He scored 114 runs (NL fourth), hit 42 doubles (NL second), nine home runs, and 23 sacrifice hits, walking 60 times (NL 10th) with 14 strikeouts. His 6.9 WAR ranked him third amongst position players, with a .437 OBP (NL second), a .549 SLG (NL fourth), and a .986 OPS (NL third). He struck out just once every 44.5 at bats (NL third). He also led the NL with 326 putouts from right field, ranking second with 20 assists and fourth with a .980 fielding percentage. He had 78 multi hit games on the season. On April 23rd, in a 6-4 loss to the Reds, he walked, hit a single, a double, and a home run with three RBI. On In an 11-10 win over the St. Louis Cardinals, he walked, hit two singles and a triple for four total RBI. He collected six RBI on a triple and a home run on August 3rd in a 9-6 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies. Pittsburgh won the National League pennant by one and a half games over the Cardinals, at 94-60. The team was swept by the New York Yankees in the World Series, as Waner went five-for-15 with a double and three RBI.
1928 would see Waner lead the NL with 142 runs and with 50 doubles. In 152 games (NL sixth), he hit .370 (NL second) with 19 triples (NL second), six home runs, 86 RBI, 77 walks (NL fourth) and just 16 strikeouts. He ranked third in the league with a 6.8 WAR, second with a .446 OBP, fifth with a .547 SLG, and fourth with a .992 OPS. On the 4th of May, in a 13-3 win against the Boston Braves, he had four hits, including two doubles and a triple, scoring three runs. He hit a single and a triple with four RBI on August 24th, in a 16-5 win against the New York Giants. The Pirates finished fourth with an 85-67 record.
In 1929, Waner hit .336 in 151 games (NL sixth), scoring 131 runs (NL sixth) with 43 doubles (NL sixth), 15 triples (NL second), 15 home runs, 100 RBI, 15 stolen bases (NL ninth), 89 walks (NL third), and 24 strikeouts. He earned a 4.8 WAR (NL eighth amongst position players) with a .424 OBP (NL ninth). In a 14-2 win over the Phillies on June 3rd, he went three-for-four with two doubles and a home run, scoring four runs with two RBI. On July 13th, in a 10-2 win over Philadelphia, he hit three doubles with two runs scored and two RBI. The Pirates posted an 88-65 record, finishing second in the NL.
Waner hit .368 (NL seventh) in 1930, playing in 145 games and scoring 117 runs, 32 doubles, 18 triples (NL second), eight home runs, 77 RBI, 18 steals (NL second), 57 walks, and 18 strikeouts. He posted a .428 OBP (NL ninth). In a 12-4 win over the Cardinals on July 6th, he hit three singles, a double, and a triple, scoring twice. On September 7th, he hit a
single with two triples and four RBI in a 9-7 win against the Chicago Cubs. Pittsburgh finished at 80-74, finishing in fifth place.
1931 would see Waner hit .322 in 150 contests with 88 runs scored, 35 doubles, 10 triples, six home runs, 70 RBI, 73 walks (NL second), and 21 strikeouts. He posted a .404 OBP (NL fourth) with a 5.0 WAR rating (NL seventh). In a 9-4 win over the Phillies on July 14th, he collected four RBI on a single and a double. He went five-for-six on August 18th with five singles and an RBI as the Pirates came out on top of Philadelphia yet again, 14-5. The Pirates again finshed in fifth place, at 75-79.
In 1932, Waner hit a team record and NL leading 62 doubles while placing fourth in the NL MVP award race. He also led the league with 154 appearances and scored 107 runs (NL seventh), hitting .341 (NL fourth) with 10 triples (NL seventh), eight home runs, 82 RBI, 13 stolen bases, (NL ninth), 56 walks (NL seventh) and 24 strikeouts. He ranked sixth in the NL with a 5.5 WAR and with a .397 OBP, ninth with a .510 SLG, and eighth with a .906 OPS. On May 20th, in a 5-0 win over St. Louis, he hit four doubles, scoring once and knocking in one. In the second half of a twin bill on June 25th, he hit two singles, a double and two home runs, scoring four times with four RBI in an 8-5 win over the Reds. An 86-68 record was good enough to earn the Bucs a second place finish in the National League.
Waner played in the first major league all-star game in 1933. He hit .309 with a .372 OBP (NL seventh), a .456 SLG (NL ninth), and an .828 OPS. He played in a league leading 154 games, scoring 101 runs (NL second) and hitting 38 doubles (NL fourth), 16 triples (NL second), seven home runs, 70 RBI, 60 walks (NL fifth), and 20 strikeouts, finishing the season with a WAR rating of 4.5 (NL seventh). Defensively, he led the NL with 346 putouts, ranked second with 16 assists, and ranked fourth with a .981 fielding percentage. In a 6-2 Bucs win over the Phillies on May 18th, he hit a double, a triple, and a home run, scoring twice with two RBI. He made four RBI on two singles in a 6-5 loss to the New York Giants on May 26th. In another 6-5 loss to the Giants on July 21st, he hit three singles and a double, walking, scoring a run, and knocking one in. The Bucs finished second in the NL with an 87-67 record, five games behind the Giants.
1934 would see Waner lead the National League with a .362 average, 122 runs, and 217 hits. He played in his second all-star game and finished second in the NL MVP race. He played in 146 games (NL 10th), hitting 32 doubles, 16 triples (NL second) and 14 home runs with 90 RBI. He walked 68 times (NL fifth), helping hime to a .429 OBP (NL second), a .539 SLG (NL fourth), a .968 OPS (NL third), only striking out 24 times and finishing the season with a 6.0 oWAR (NL fourth). He made 323 putouts (NL second) with 15 assists (NL second) and a league leading .985 fielding percentage. On June 13th, he hit a single, a double, and a triple, scoring twice and knocking in three in a 15-2 win over the Brooklyn Dodgers. He hit two singles and two doubles on August 5th in the second game of a doubleheader scoring twice and collecting three RBI in a 7-2 win against the St. Louis Cardinals. The Pirates finished with a 74-76 record, placing fifth in the NL pennant race.
In 1935, Waner appeared in 139 games, scoring 98 times (NL 10th) with 29 doubles, 12 triples (NL fourth), 11 home runs, 78 RBI, 61 walks (NL ninth) and 22 strikeouts. He made another all-star team and placed 24th in the NL MVP race. He had a .392 OBP (NL sixth), an .869 OPS (NL ninth), ranking second in the NL with a .983 fielding percentage. He hit two singles with a double and a home run, scoring twice with three RBI in a 14-1 win against the Cincinnati Reds on June 10th. On August 30th, he hit two singles, two triples, scored two runs, and four RBI in a 9-3 win over the Cardinals. He hit two singles, a triple and a home run, scoring four times and knocking in six more, accounting for nine of Pittsburgh's ten runs in a 10-7 win over the Giants on September 11th. The Bucs placed 13.5 games back in the NL pennant race, finishing fourth in the league with an 86-67 record.
Waner won the NL batting title for the third and final time in 1936, hitting .373 over 148 games. He scored 107 runs (NL seventh) with 53 doubles (NL third), nine triples, five home runs, 94 RBI (NL eighth), 74 walks (NL sixth) and 29 strikeouts. He slugged .520 (NL fifth) with a .446 OBP (NL third) and a .965 OPS (NL fourth), ranking fifth in the NL MVP race, sixth with a 7.0 WAR, and led the league with 324 putouts from right field. In an 11-2 win over the Boston Braves in the top half of a doubleheader on June 28th, he hit three singles and a double, scoring twice and knocking in three. On July 9th, he hit a single, two doubles, and a triple, scoring three times with six RBI in a 16-5 win over the Phillies. In game two of a doubleheader on September 7th, he hit a single, two doubles and a triple, scoring three times with three RBI in a 14-1 win against the Cardinals. The Pirates took the fourth spot in the NL at 84-70, eight games behind the pennant winning Giants.
1937 would see Waner make his fourth all-star team, rank eighth in the NL with a 4.6 oWAR rating, and earn enough votes to finish eighth in the NL MVP contest. He played in 154 games (NL second), hitting .354 (NL fourth) with a .413 OBP (NL fifth), an .855 OPS (NL 10h), 94 runs scored (NL 10th), 30 doubles, nine triples, 74 RBI, 63 walks (NL ninth) and 34 strikeouts. On May 14th, he collected five RBI in a 14-4 Pirates win over the Cardinals, hitting four singles. On May 30th, he figured in six of Pittsburgh's seven runs, scoring three times and collecting four RBI by hitting a single, a double, and a home run in a 7-4 victory over St. Louis. He hit a single, two doubles and a triple with one run and one RBI in a 5-4 loss to the Giants on June 16th. The Buccos went 86-68, finishing third in the National League.
Waner played three more seasons for Pittsburgh, hitting .298 and walking 105 times to only 60 strikeouts. He added 77 doubles, 13 triples, 10 home runs and 146 RBI to his career totals. In his first 13 major league seasons, he never played in less than 139 contests. Beginning in 1939, he never again appeared in more than 125, playing in less than 100 contests in four of his final six seasons. He closed out his career after stints with the Dodgers (176 games), the Braves (209 games), and the New York Yankees (10 games). He earned a selection to the Baseball Hall of Fame on his sixth ballot, getting inducted with the Class of 1952. For more on Waner, check out his biography at SABR.ORG, by Joseph Wancho.
All-Time Statline: 15 seasons, 2154 games, 2868-for-8429, .340/.407/.490, 1493 runs, 558 doubles, 157 triples, 109 home runs, 1177 RBI, 100 stolen bases, 909 walks, 325 strikeouts, 65.6 wins above replacement.