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How the 1971 Pirates were built

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

What follows is a breakdown of the manner in which everybody who played for the 1971 Pirates was acquired. You’ll see it’s not terribly different from the way teams now are built, except no free agents. The bulk of the talent came up through the farm system — the Pirates had a great run with their system from the early 1960s well into the 1970s — but there were some key trades that especially built up the bullpen. The Pirates weren’t quite as active on the international front as you’d expect.

One other difference besides the lack of free agents: There was no draft until 1965. Teams just signed domestic amateur players more or less the way they do with international players now. The Pirates hit it big with their 1964 signing class (Oliver, Robertson and Ellis), then again in the 1966 draft (Cash, Hebner and Clines). They also drafted significant 1971 contributors in 1965 (Moose) and 1968 (Kison), which is a lot of talent to graduate in a six-year period. And they drafted Freddie Patek in 1965 and used him in a big trade that didn’t work out all that well in the end. Another big draftee was Richie Zisk in 1967. He was blocked and got just a cup of coffee in 1971. He had a huge year in AAA (29 HR, 109 RBI, .953 OPS) following an equally big one in AA the year before. He probably could have contributed in 1971 had he been needed, but the Pirates had five good outfielders.

Stats are for 1971. Some signing dates for the years before the draft weren’t available.


1B Bob Robertson (signed June 10, 1964) — 135 OPS+, 26 HR, 72 RBI

SS Gene Alley (signed before 1959) — 79 OPS+

OF Willie Stargell (signed Aug. 7, 1958) — 185 OPS+, .295, 48 HR, 125 RBI

OF Al Oliver (signed June 13, 1964) — 113 OPS+, .282, 14 HR

2B Bill Mazeroski (signed before 1954) — 69 OPS+

RHP Steve Blass (signed before 1960) — 15-8, 121 ERA+

RHP Dock Ellis (signed Jan. 14, 1964) — 19-9, 113 ERA+

LHP Bob Veale (signed before 1958) — 6-0-2, 50 ERA+

RHP John Lamb (signed before 1964) — 2 G


2B Dave Cash (1966, 5th round) — 98 OPS+, .289, 79 R

3B Richie Hebner (1966, 1st round) — 126 OPS+, .271, 17 HR

OF Gene Clines (1966, 6th round) — 113 OPS+, .308, 15 SB, 52 R playing half the time

C Milt May (1968, 11th round) — 109 OPS+, .278, 6 HR

OF Richie Zisk (1967, 3rd round) — 134 OPS+, 19 PA

PH Rimp Lanier (1967, 37th round) — -39 OPS+, 5 PA

RHP Bob Moose (1965, 18th round) — 11-7-1, 84 ERA+

RHP Bruce Kison (1968, 14th round) — 6-5, 102 ERA+

RHP Jim Nelson (1965, 31st round) — 2-2, 149 ERA+

RHP Frank Brosseau (1966 secondary phase, 1st round) -- 1 G


C Manny Sanguillen (signed Oct. 2, 1964, from Panama) — 116 OPS+, .319, 81 RBI

2B Rennie Stennett (signed Feb. 12, 1969, from Panama) — 134 OPS+ in 50 G

PR Frank Taveras (signed Jan. 8, 1968, from Dominican Republic) — 1 G


OF Roberto Clemente (Nov. 22, 1954, from Dodgers) — 143 OPS+, .341, 13 HR, 86 RBI


OF Vic Davalillo (Jan. 29, 1971, with RHP Nelson Briles from St.L. for OF Matty Alou and LHP George Brunet) — 95 OPS+, .285

SS Jackie Hernandez (Dec. 2, 1970, with RHP Bob Johnson and C Jim Campanis from KC for from KC with RHP Bob Johnson and C Jim Campanis for SS Freddie Patek, C Jerry May and RHP Bruce Dal Canton) — 57 OPS+

3B/OF Jose Pagan (May 22, 1965, from SF for SS Dick Schofield) — 84 OPS+

C/PH Charlie Sands (Oct. 15, 1970, from NYY with two minor leaguers for three minor leaguers) — 118 OPS+ in 32 PA

RHP Bob Johnson (Dec. 2, 1970, from KC with SS Jackie Hernandez and C Jim Campanis for SS Freddie Patek, C Jerry May and RHP Bruce Dal Canton) — 9-10, 100 ERA+

RHP Dave Giusti (Oct. 21, 1969, from St.L. with C Dave Ricketts for OF Carl Taylor and a minor leaguer) — 5-6-30, 118 ERA+

RHP Nelson Briles (Jan. 29, 1971, from St.L. with OF Vic Davalillo for OF Matty Alou and LHP George Brunet) — 8-4-1, 113 ERA+

RHP Mudcat Grant (Sept. 14, 1970, from Oak. for OF Angel Mangual) — 5-3-7, 96 ERA+ (sold back to Oak. Aug. 10, 1971)

RHP Bob Miller (Aug. 10, 1971, from SD for RHP Ed Acosta and OF John Jeter) — 1-2-3, 271 ERA+

LHP Ramon Hernandez (Feb. 10, 1971, from Mexico City Reds for a minor leaguer) — 0-1-4, 488 ERA+


OF Carl Taylor (Sept. 3, 1971, from KC) — 38 OPS+, 12 PA (Taylor had originally signed with the Pirates and this was his second stint with them.)


LHP Luke Walker (Dec. 2, 1963, from Boston) — 10-8, 97 ERA+ (I’m not entirely sure what the “first year player draft” was. I think there was a rule that a player signing for a bonus above a certain amount had to be placed on the major league roster either immediately or within a year, otherwise he was eligible to be drafted. Or something. The Red Sox had signed Walker a year before the Pirates drafted him away from them.)