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Pittsburgh Pirates’ Leaders and Laggards

Brett Barnett

Retrieved from Bleacher Report/Getty

Over the Pittsburgh Pirates’ history, there have been plenty of notable names: Honus Wagner, the Waners, Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell, and more recently, Andrew McCutchen, among many others. I was curious which players had some of the highest, and some of the lowest, statistics in the team’s history.

I needed some sort of metric that held players to a higher requirement. I eventually settled on this: the player needs to have recorded 1,000 or more plate appearances in a Pirates’ uniform. Some of the stats I looked at are surprising, others are predictable.


This title is amazingly a tie between the two greatest Pirates of all-time. Both Honus Wagner and Roberto Clemente each played 2,433 games throughout their careers. In fact, their career lines are remarkably similar.

Home Runs

It probably isn’t surprising to any of you that this tally belongs to Willie Stargell, and it isn’t particularly close. Pops hit 475 long balls in a little over 9,000 plate appearances. The second closest is Ralph Kiner, who hit 301, but in about half the time.

Predictably, there are plenty of hitters that barely hit any at all. Many of them come from the dead ball days, so I’ll try to focus on a few more recent entries. In the early ‘70s, Gene Clines only hit two in over 1,300 plate appearances. Tim Foli hit four in over 1,500 plate appearances. Jose Lind hit eight in over 3,000 plate appearances. You get the idea.


Another Stargell entry, he drew 937 during his time in Pittsburgh. Jose Guillen registered the fewest ever for a Pirate with over 1,000 plate appearances, drawing only 48.


Stargell also struck out more than any other Bucco. This is kind of a given, what with him being a slugger and having played for the Pirates over a 20-year span. He clocks in at 1,936. Earl Smith, in the mid-’20s, had the fewest, totaling 42. A more recent entry would be Tim Foli at 49, mostly coming in the early ‘80s. A 21st century player doesn’t pop up until Tike Redman between 2000 and 2005, when he struck out a total of 129 times.

Stolen Bases

Max Carey takes this honor, with 688. There are fewer players with fewer than 10, so for the sake of interest, that includes Richie Zisk, Mike LaValliere, Xavier Nady, and Josh Bell.

Hit by Pitch

I think it’s common knowledge among Pittsburghers that Jason Kendall was plunked the most times, registering 177 baseballs to the body. Starling Marte was gaining on him, however, totaling 111 before being shipped to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Dave Cash fared the best, being hit only once between 1969 and 1973.


This mark technically goes to Ed Swartwood at 169, but that came between 1882 and 1892. The second player on the list is much closer to modern day, as Brian Giles came in at 158. As for the least, Tommy Thevenow would’ve been at a 57 throughout the ‘30s, while more recently Abraham Nunez checked the box at a 61 between 1997 and 2004.


This one surprised me a little bit. Remember, I used the criteria that the player needed to register only 1,000 plate appearances as a Pirate, which leaves a lot of room for players who didn’t make careers in Pittsburgh. The two highest players in this category was an 18th century player named Jake Stenzel and Kiki Cuyler in the ‘20s. But what surprised me here is that tied for third is Honus Wagner and… David Freese, both coming in at .348. As I said, Wagner’s sample size is much bigger, so I don’t mean to suggest the two players are equivalents, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

As for the worst total, Bill McKechnie comes in at .249, while Andy LaRoche bests him by three points, at .252.


Roberto Clemente played in a lot of baseball games, and therefore made a lot of outs. One of the mediums of those outs came in the form of double plays, of which he has the most. The Great One grounded into 275 double plays. The fewest was Tony Piet, who only hit into six. More recently, the entry would be Gary Redus, who grounded into eight.


Lloyd Waner went the most amount of at-bats between strikeouts, registering a 43.44 tally, while Jason Bay would go the fewest: 3.8.


Not surprisingly, this one belongs to The Flying Dutchman, Honus Wagner, with 120.1 bWAR. Jose Bautista fared the worst, coming in at -2.2 bWAR (this tally is among position players).

Defensive WAR

By this metric, Bill Mazeroski is the greatest defender in Pirates’ history, totaling 24 dWAR. The worse mark belongs to Gus Suhr, coming in at -6.6. Right there with him is Bell.

Offensive WAR

The highest oWAR was Wanger, at 113.1, while the worst was Jose Guillen at -0.7.


This stat measures the change in run expectancy before a player’s at bat to the conclusion of the at bat, where zero is average. It is situation specific, and not designed for neutral implementation, like many of today’s stats. More information can be found here.

Stargell takes another top spot: 594.81 over his career. Last on the list is Mazeroski, at -82.07.