Over the years the Pirates have had a number of players who bounced around the diamond. Contributing where they were needed most before ultimately landing in the place we think of them playing. Here are my top 10.
1. Josh Harrison – JHay was the epitome of Super utility man before becoming the everyday 2B. Bluntly put, his transition to one position devalued him as a contributor.
2. John Cangelosi – John played all over the diamond for the Bucs. He was so versatile there were weeks he himself started 5 games bouncing around resting others.
3. Bobby Bonilla – Many people remember Bobby as a fixture at 3B or RF, but in his career he played all three outfield positions, 3B and 1B. He even caught an inning once. If that’s not utility of the super variety, I don’t know what is.
4. Sean Rodriguez – He was a nice little spark plug and locker room glue, Clint Hurdle used him too damn much and he became a lightning rod. SeanRod was a classic case of failure due to over exposure. When he was used as an actual spot starter or defensive replacement, he did his job well, when he became a player starting 4 or 5 games a week the warts started to show. Legendary flow on this dude though, and Serpico was always a heart and soul guy.
5. R.J. Reynolds – R.J. was never the best player on the field but he played all three outfield positions, and did it well. Being a switch hitter only increased his versatility and being part of a return package from the Dodgers along with Sid Bream for Bill Madlock was always going to make it harder to become a fan favorite. Sweet mustache too!
6. Turner Ward – For the best part of 3 seasons including the famous freak show of 1997, Turner patrolled all three outfield positions. He provided enough power off the bench to make him one of the best pinch hitters in the game, plus, who could forget this…
7. Gary Redus – The definition of “wherever you need me coach”. Gary played all three outfield positions and first base for the Buccos from 1988 through 1992. If you remember those clubs, Redus was the best option to lead off. The formula of Redus getting on base and Jay Bell bunting him over was a living example of the Leyland Doctrine. He never played more than 98 games in a season during his Pirates tenure but was every bit an important part of the run.
8. Omar Moreno – Everywhere. That’s where Omar played no matter where you put him in the outfield, everywhere. Omar makes this list for one reason, his position versatility. Some players can play center field if pressed into action, but Moreno was going to bring his sure handed fielding to all three. In his career he would steal 487 bases and played every game in the 1979 World Series season.
9. Willie Stargell – In his career, Pops played all three outfield positions and first base for the Pirates. Nobody would ever call him a utility man, but he certainly fits the bill. Can you imagine a player of his stature being willing to bounce around filling holes in today’s game? OK, this one is a stretch but when I think of what Pops meant to this team, he can make every list I ever make and it won’t be enough acknowledgement.
10. Raphiael Belliard – During his Pirates tenure he filled in admirably at 2B, 3B, and SS, and did so with a lifetime .977 fielding percentage. He hit 2 homeruns. TWO. In his career with a lifetime .227 batting average. Imagine how good you have to be in the field to play 17 years in the majors with that batting line.
Who did I miss? Fill me in on your picks.