Pirates Players Who Were Best in MLB for at Least a Season

Every week we like to put together a list that gets us talking baseball. It’s good and therapeutic for all of us right now and hearing the stories and memories everyone has reminds us all just how deeply we care about baseball.

Today, let’s look at players who for a time were arguably the best of the best at their position MLB wide.

  1. Barry Bonds (LF)- For a stretch of time Barry was the best. He’s one of the few who can say he achieved this moniker in Pittsburgh and another city too. Some will criticize his arm strength but it’s pretty nit picky and you still have to find me a better all around player at the position.
  2. Roberto Clemente (RF) – Having no personal experience of watching Roberto do his thing live, I have to trust my elders a bit here. My Dad might smack me when I’m allowed to see him again if I don’t put Clemente on this list. His arm was uncanny, that I can tell from highlights. His range was like having a second Center Fielder in the game. and in the batters box he was one of the most feared offensive talents of his era.
  3. Dave Parker (RF) – OK, so We’ve been lucky here with Right Field. He too, much like Clemente, had an absolute cannon of an arm. Highlights of his strike to Gary Carter in the All Star game should be on everyone’s watch list. On top of that he was arguably the biggest offensive threat in the lineup for the Lumber Company.
  4. Freddy Sanchez (2B) – Believing that there is a list where Freddy belongs among present company is going to be hard for many of you to swallow, I’m sure, but the man won a batting title, here, in Pittsburgh, with little in the lineup to protect him. He also played a slick second base. No, for one season Sanchez was the cream of the crop at 2B with Jeff Kent close behind.
  5. Doug Drabek (SP) – The Cy Young award is given to one pitcher in each league every season, there are times when it is more of a reputation award. Doug was ON all season long. His curveball fell out of the sky and landed in hitter’s back pocket. His fastball hit the glove no matter where Spanky or Slaught put it. He actually got better when there were stressful situations. For one season, Doug was the best there was.
  6. Mark Melancon (RP) – For a few seasons, Mark was as close to a lock to close out a game as we’ve ever seen. When he was traded to Washington in exchange for (He who shan’t be named) who also probably belongs on this list if I could bring myself to do it, we all knew we were losing a really big part of the success enjoyed in the middle of last decade. His cutter, might have been called a slider it had so much movement, and both righties and lefties couldn’t pick it up to save their lives. Having that much movement and still being able to place it is not a common skill set.
  7. Ralph Kiner (LF) – Kiner was a prolific homerun hitter on a terrible team. He brought star power to a grey mill town and was THE reason to pay the price of admission most nights. Towering blasts were his calling card and he did it while being pitched around at every opportunity.
  8. Tony Watson (RP) – Every bullpen needs a lefty to come in and get out those sluggers most teams possess. Watson was more than that, he could get outs no matter what side you hit from. Most of his Pirates career was spent in a set-up role and for a stretch, there wasn’t a better one in the game. Paired with Jason Grilli and Mark Melancon, they shortened games to 6 or 7 innings and reminded many of the Cincinnati Reds Nasty Boys. If you were down a couple runs against the Pirates heading into the 6th, you better have scored.
  9. Willie Stargell (LF) – Now, I understand he played 1B too, but his 1971 season was spend primarily in LF, and he was simply dominant. Mashing 48 homeruns with a .295 Batting average, Pops was a frightening figure for any opposing pitcher.
  10. Vern Law (SP) – In 1959 and 1960 Vern was at the top of his game, and the league. In those two seasons he put up 38 wins, 38 complete games, and an ERA of 3.02. For good measure he went ahead and hit a homer in each season too.

Now, I’m sure I left some off, Honus Wagner comes to mind, the Waner’s enter the arena too. Let me know who you remember, but be prepared to defend your pick!

Published by Gary Morgan

Former contributor for Inside the Pirates an SI Team Channel

3 thoughts on “Pirates Players Who Were Best in MLB for at Least a Season

  1. For the years 1958 thru 1964, Roy Face was the best reliever in the NL. At that time there was no plan to use a “closer”, you simply brought in late relief in the 7th, 8th or 9th when needed. He would remain in there against both right and left handed hitters. The stats for measuring his effectiveness were quite different back then. You might argue that nothing in the NL has changed more than the concept of relief pitching in the years since he was on the mound. There is no serious argument against the fact that El Roy Face and Hoyt Wheilhem (AL) were the best in their era.

    Liked by 1 person

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