The Top 10 Pittsburgh Pirates of All Time is today’s topic, and it’s one of the best lists that any franchise could put out.
11) Bill Mazeroski
Game 7, 1960 World Series is Mazeroski’s forever, but he was more than just that one at-bat. Mazeroski won eight Gold Gloves. He made seven All-Star teams. He took part in more double plays than any other player in history (1,706).
10) Dave Parker
Dave Parker played right field for 19 seasons in the MLB, 11 of them in Pittsburgh. He played in 1,301 games, had 4,848 at-bats, 1,479 hits, and a .305 average. Nicknamed “The Cobra,” Parker hit 166 home runs and had 758 RBI. He was a four-time All-Star, won the Gold Glove Award three times, was a two-time Batting Title MVP, and won a World Series.
9) Arky Vaughn
Vaughn hit .324 in 10 seasons with the Pirates and .318 in 14 seasons overall. In both instances, those numbers are better than any shortstop ever to play, but for one —Honus Wagner. Yet, for his era, Vaughan was without peer. He made nine consecutive All-Star teams (1934-42), twice finished in the top-three in MVP voting, and won the NL batting title in 1935 (.385) while also leading the league in on-base percentage (.491) and slugging (.607) that season.
8) Wilbur Cooper
Cooper is the greatest pitcher in Pirates history, and if you don’t believe me, just take a look at the Pirates record book. Cooper’s records include a still club record of 202 games won — a mark that almost 100 seasons later still stands. He also ranks in the top five in complete games (263, 1st), starts (368, 2nd), and innings pitched (3,201, 2nd).
7) Paul Waner
Waner hit above .350 more times (5) than he hit under .300 (2), won three NL batting titles, and, in one of the greatest single seasons in franchise history, won the NL MVP in 1927 by hitting .380 with 42 doubles, 18 triples, 9 Home Runs, 131 RBIs and 342 total bases.
6) Barry Bonds
Bonds played seven seasons in left field with the Pirates before heading to the West Coast. While in Pittsburgh, he played 1,010 games, had 3,584 at-bats, 984 hits, and a .275 average. In addition, he had 176 home runs, 556 RBI, and 251 stolen bases. He was a two-time All-Star, a three-time Gold Glove winner, a three-time Silver Slugger, and a two-time MVP.
5) Pie Traynor
Ten times Waner batted over .300, including .366 in 1930. He knocked in 1,273 runs over his career and hit .346 to help the Pirates beat Walter Johnson and the Washington Senators in a seven-game World Series in 1925. Defensively, he was even better.
4) Ralph Kiner
Kiner was a Pirate for seven years and hit Home Runs over those seven seasons and part of 1953 at a pace unseen before or since: one every 13 at-bats. He led the NL in each of his seven seasons (still an MLB record), twice topped 50, and in 1949 set a Pirates record with 54.
3) Honus Wagner
From 1900-17, Wagner helped the Pirates win four of their nine NL pennants and their first World Series championship. All the while, he led the league in batting eight times, RBIs five times, stolen bases five times
2) Willie Stargell
Stargell hit 475 Home Runs, 1,560 RBIs, and 953 extra-base hits which are all franchise records. At the peak of Stargell’s career from 1970-73, he averaged 39 Home Runs and 110 RBIs a season while batting .288. But it is his last hurrah in 1979 that most are remember by Pirates fans when at the age of 39, he led the Pirates to their fifth and most recent world championship. Led? More like carried. He went 12 for 30 with 3 HRs, 7 runs scored, and 7 RBIs, an MVP performance that included a go-ahead two-run homer in the sixth inning of Game 7 against the Baltimore Orioles that wrote him from mere great and into franchise legend.
1) Roberto Clemente
Clemente was a .317 career hitter and the only man to collect 3,000 hits in a Pirates uniform. He was a four-time NL batting champion, 1966 NL MVP, and 12-time Gold Glove winner who “could field the ball in New York and throw out a guy in Pennsylvania,” as the legendary Vin Scully once said. A lot of great players are on this list, but there is no doubt in my mind Clemente is the best and one of the handfuls of players that could lay claim to being the best.