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The “20 years of losing” starting nine

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MLB: New York Yankees at Cleveland Indians David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Pirates were awful from 1993 to 2012. We all know this.

That said, some of those teams had some really great players. Today, I will be forming a starting lineup of the greatest players from this timespan (using single seasons only).

The lineup

  1. C 1998 Jason Kendall (fWAR 5.8) - Kendall was one of the best catchers in baseball in 1998 as he hit .327/.411/.473 with 12 home runs and 26 steals.
  2. CF 2012 Andrew McCutchen (fWAR 7.3) - McCutchen finished third in MVP voting in 2012 while hitting .327/.400/.553 with 31 home runs (a career-high) and 20 stolen bases. He would win the MVP in the following season and the Pirates would also end their 20-year losing seasons streak.
  3. RF 2002 Brian Giles (fWAR 6.9) - The 174 wRC+ speaks for itself. Giles was a stud during his time in Pittsburgh. In ‘02, he hit .298/.450/.622 with 38 home runs. His walk rate of 21 percent trailed only Barry Bonds.
  4. 3B 2001 Aramis Ramirez (fWAR 4.7) - Ramirez raked in the 2001 season as he hit .300/.350/.536 with 34 home runs. Two years later, he was traded just before the trade deadline to the Chicago Cubs for Matt Bruback, Jose Hernandez, and Bobby Hill. Kenny Lofton was also sent to Chicago in the deal.
  5. LF 2005 Jason Bay (fWAR 5.7) - In this season, Bay hit .306/.402/.559 with 32 home runs and 21 steals.
  6. 1B 1999 Kevin Young (fWAR 5.3) - In 675 plate appearances, Young hit .298/.387/.522 with 26 home runs and 22 stolen bases. His 128 wRC+ was the 43rd highest in baseball that season. Times were wild in the steroid era.
  7. SS 1993 Jay Bell (fWAR 6.6) - This was the first year of perpetual losing. Bell had the eighth highest fWAR in baseball in ‘93. Stellar defense at a premium position paired with a .310/.392/.437 batting line made him one of the most valuable players in baseball.
  8. 2B 2007 Freddy Sanchez (fWAR 2.9) - Sanchez hit .304/.343/.442 with 11 home runs in ‘07. The year before, he won the batting title. That season though, he primarily played third base.
  9. SP 2004 Oliver Perez (fWAR 4.5) - 2004 was by far Perez’s best season. In 196 innings pitched, he had a 2.98 ERA with 239 strikeouts. His strikeout rate of 29.7 percent was the third highest in baseball that season.