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Constructing the Pirates’ All-Time Single Season Batting Order

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MLB: Seattle Mariners at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Today I will be creating the All-time single season batting order for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

What does that mean?

This is NOT the All-time lineup based on the players’ respective careers. This lineup is based purely on a certain single season alone. Some of the players that made this lineup are not Hall of Famers. Some Hall of Famers did not make this starting nine.

Some Rules

  • A player cannot be used twice.
  • A player at their respective position has to have played at least 50 games at said position. (unless rule three)
  • Last rule. I’m going to cheat. I don’t care. I need to use a DH. Sorry.

Okay, here we go.

The Lineup

  1. SS 1908 Honus Wagner (fWAR 11.8) - This was the greatest single season in Pirates’ history. In his age 34 season, Wagner hit .354/.415/.542 with 10 home runs. He led the league in hits (201), doubles (39), triples (19), RBI (109), steals (53), as well as all of the slash line stats. That season, the Pirates finished second in the National League, missing the World Series by one game.
  2. CF 2013 Andrew McCutchen (fWAR 8.1) - McCutchen will always be a hero in Pittsburgh for leading the Pirates to the end of their 20-year playoff drought. That season, he won the National League MVP. The Pirates would go on to lose to the St. Louis Cardinals in a heartbreaking five game NLDS.
  3. LF 1990 Barry Bonds (fWAR 9.9) - 1990 was an explosion for Bonds. In his previous four seasons, he was great yes, but 1990 is when Bonds truly put it all together. He won the MVP as well as a gold glove. He led the league in slugging percentage and hit .301/.406/.565 as a whole. It was the peak of his speed/power combo as he hit 33 home runs and swiped a career high 52 bags. Unfortunately for the Pirates, they lost 4-2 to the Cincinnati Reds in the NLCS.
  4. 1B 1951 Ralph Kiner (fWAR 7.6) - This was not Kiner’s best season. That said, he did play 58 games at first base that year. If it weren’t for Bonds in LF, Kiner or Willie Stargell would have held down that spot. Anyways, 1951 was a great year for Kiner. He was in the sixth of seven straight seasons of leading the league in home runs. That season, he also led the league in runs (124), walks (137), on base percentage (.452), slugging (.627), and OPS (1.079). Of course the Pirates stunk that year (poor Ralph), going 64-90.
  5. DH/LF 1971 Willie Stargell (fWAR 8.2) - Yes, this is where I cheat. It would be criminal though to leave Stargell out of this lineup. Let’s just assume that this hypothetical game is coming against an AL opponent and the Pirates are on the road. Okay? Stargell was a monster in 1971 leading the league in home runs 48 while hitting a menacing .295/.398/.628. He finished second in the MVP race that season. No matter. The Pirates would go on to win their fourth World Series.
  6. RF 1967 Roberto Clemente (fWAR 7.7) - The Great One. We all know that Clemente was a great defender with an all-time great arm. In 1967, he had his best offensive season hitting .357/.400/.554 with a league leading 209 hits. He also won the batting title and finished third in MVP voting. He compiled 324 total bases, the second highest total of his career. The year before, Clemente actually won the MVP so choosing between ‘66 and ‘67 was a true toss up. The Pirates finished an even 81-81 in ‘67.
  7. 3B 1899 Jimmy Williams (fWAR 7.5) - 1899 was the rookie season for Williams as he hit .354/.416/.530 with nine home runs, 28 doubles, and 27 triples. Yes, his 27 triples led the league. This was the peak of his career. Williams would never have another .400 on base percentage or .500 slugging output again. Unfortunately for Williams, he didn’t have a fun and wacky nickname that you normally see with some dead ball era players. The Pirates finished 76-73 that year.
  8. C 2014 Russell Martin (fWAR 6.2) - The ultimate contract year. It’s pretty crazy to me that guys like Jason Kendall, Manny Sanguillen, or Tony Pena never had a season as good as Martin’s 2014. Martin was great though hitting .290/.402/.430 while also playing elite defense and managing the pitching staff. The Pirates would go on to lose to the San Francisco Madison Bumgarner’s in Wild Card game.
  9. 2B 1909 Dots Miller (fWAR 4.8) - Dots Miller. Now that’s a dead ball era name I can get behind. In 1909, Dots hit .279/.329/.396 with three home runs, 31 doubles, and 13 triples. His .396 slugging percentage was good for eighth best in the NL. Dots helped to contribute to the Pirates’ 110-42 record and World Series title over Ty Cobb’s Detroit Tigers.

Pitcher 1965 Bob Veale (fWAR 8.0) - Veale was workhorse in 1965, tossing 266.0 innings. He went 17-12 with a 2.84 ERA (2.11 FIP). He struck out 276 batters while walking a league leading 119. The walks didn’t really matter though. On Opening Day that year, Veale tossed a 10 inning shutout allowing just three hits against the San Francisco Giants. He struck out 10 and walked one that day. The opposing pitcher was Hall of Famer Juan Marichal, who also threw a complete game. Bob Bailey started the bottom of the tenth with a walk-off home run off of Marichal.

Honorable Mentions (fWAR)

  • SS 1935 Arky Vaughn (9.6)
  • RF 1977 Dave Parker (7.7)
  • RF 1925 Kiki Cuyler (7.5)
  • RF 1927 Paul Waner (7.2)
  • LF 2002 Brian Giles (6.9)
  • SS 1993 Jay Bell (6.6)
  • CF 1992 Andy Van Slyke (6.5)
  • C 2015 Francisco Cervelli (5.9)
  • C 1998 Jason Kendall (5.8)
  • SP 1886 Ed Morris (7.6) I mean, the guy threw 555.1 innings that year.
  • SP 1960 Bob Friend (7.1)
  • SP 1935 Cy Blanton (6.8)