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Thursday, July 26, 2012

My All-Time Pittsburgh Pirates Team

Deep Tradition, Legendary Players

Presenting the all-time Pittsburgh Pirates team:
Catcher: Jason Kendall (1996-2004)
Kendall was the face of a constantly rebuilding franchise and wore his heart on his sleeve every day he showed up to play. As a Pirate, Kendall sported a .306 average with 256 doubles, 67 home runs and 140 stolen bases. Pirate fans will never forget his dust up with the Dodgers' Gary Sheffield, which sparked a bench-clearing brawl. Kendall was named to three All-Star squads.
1st Base: Willie "Pops" Stargell (1962-1982)
Stargell was a seven-time All-Star and the 1979 NL MVP and World Series MVP. Always a leader in the clubhouse, Stargell was known for his tape measure blasts, including clobbering one out of Dodger Stadium that went 507 feet and having the only home run to reach the upper deck of Montreal's Olympic Stadium, which traveled 535 feet. He ended his career with 475 dingers, and would undoubtedly have had many more if he didn't play in the spacious Forbes Field for the first part of his career. Stargell won two World Series with the Pirates and was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1988.
2nd Base: Bill Mazeroski (1956-1972)
"Maz" was a 10-time All-Star and an eight-time Gold Glove Award winner and is best known for his 1960 World Series Game 7 walkoff home run in the bottom of the 9th vs. the Yankees, lifting the Pirates to a 10-9 victory and their third world championship. Mazeroski was so highly regarded as a fielder that players often showed up early just to watch him field balls in practice. In addition to winning the 1960 World Series, Maz was also a member of the champion 1971 squad. Mazeroski was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2001.
Shortstop: Honus Wagner (1900-1917)
Many baseball historians consider Honus Wagner to be he greatest shortstop of all time. Babe Ruth once said that Honus Wagner was the greatest right-handed hitter ever. Wagner sported a lifetime .327 average and won the National League's batting crown eight times. Wagner swiped 639 bases in his Pirates career and was caught stealing only 15 times. Wagner was a member of the 1909 World Series championship team and was elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936.
3rd Base: Pie Traynor (1920-1937)
One of the greatest third basemen of all time, Pie Traynor was a career .320 hitter and had 1,273 RBIs. Traynor had such exceptional control at the plate that he only struck out 278 times in his 17-year career. Traynor was selected as a reserve in the inaugural MLB All-Star game in 1933. Traynor won one World Series title in 1925 and was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1948.
Left Field: Ralph Kiner (1946-1953)
During his career with the Pirates, Ralph Kiner was one of the lone bright spots on a perpetual losing team. As a Bucco, Kiner blasted 303 home runs, many of which were tape-measure variety. Kiner was basically the only draw for losing weary Pirates fans, and most of the stadium crowd headed for the exits as soon as Kiner took his final at-bat of the game. Kiner was a six-time All-Star and was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1975.
Center Field: Andy Van Slyke (1987-1994)
In a few years, this spot will be undoubtedly occupied by Andrew McCutchen, but for now, center field belongs to Andrew James Van Slyke. During his career with the Pirates, Van Slyke was a three time All-Star and a five-time Gold Glove Award winner. Basically, if you dared to take an extra base on Van Slyke, you'd find yourself gunned down the majority of the time. Blessed with speed and power, Van Slyke hit 117 home runs and stole 134 bases with the Pirates.
Right Field: Roberto Clemente (1955-1972)
One of the greatest players in history, Clemente was a 15-time All-Star and a 12-time Gold Glove Award winner. Clemente is considered to have the greatest arm ever, and was renown for firing balls from the right field corner to third base on the fly. Clemente finished with a .317 career average and 3,000 hits, his last a double in which he saluted an adoring crowd that gave him a long standing ovation. Sadly, Clemente was killed in a plane crash while trying to deliver aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua on Dec. 31, 1972. Clemente won two World Series titles with the Pirates, was the 1966 NL MVP, the 1971 World Series MVP, and was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973.
Bench: Barry Bonds (1986-1992)
Before becoming the face of MLB with the San Francisco Giants, Barry Bonds was a Pittsburgh Pirate, and one of the best players in Pirates history. While in Pittsburgh, Bonds belted 176 home runs, stole 251 bases, was a two-time All-Star, three-time Gold Glover, and the NL MVP in 1990 and 1992.
Bench: Dave Parker (1973-1983)
Dave Parker was the heir apparent to the legendary Roberto Clemente, and he did not disappoint. With the Pirates, "The Cobra" was a four-time All-Star, three-time Gold Glover, the 1978 NL MVP, and won two NL batting titles in 1977 and 1978. Parker was also a key member of the 1979 World Series champions.
Bench: Paul Waner (1926-1940)
One of the game's greatest hitters ever, "Big Poison" had a career .340 average, to go along with 558 doubles, 187 triples, and 109 home runs. Waner was the 1927 NL MVP and selected to four All-Star games. Waner was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1952.
Starting Pitcher: Deacon Phillippe (1900-1911)
Phillippe was outstanding a pitcher for the Pirates, going an impressive 168-92 with a 2.50 ERA. He has the lowest walks per nine innings in history -- an unbelievable 1.18. Phillippe was a member of the 1909 World Series championship team.
Starting Pitcher: Babe Adams (1907, 1909-1916, 1918-1926)
Babe Adams had exceptional control as a pitcher. His career 1.29 walks per nine innings is the second lowest average in the 20th century--next to another Pirate on this list, Deacon Phillippe. Adams went 194-139 with 1,036 strikeouts, 44 shutouts and a career 2.74 ERA. Adams collected two World Series titles with Pirates in 1909 and 1925.
Starting Pitcher: Wilbur Cooper (1912-1924)
Wilbur Cooper is the Pirates' career leader in wins, going 202-159 with an impressive 2.74 ERA. He also struck out 1,191 batters. In 1917, Cooper set what is still the single season team record with a 1.87 ERA.
Starting Pitcher: Bob Friend (1951-1965)
Friend may have only gone 191-218 with the Pirates, but the majority of the time he was on some awful Pirates teams. In 1955, he posted the best ERA in the NL (2.83), but only went 14-9, thanks to the Pirates finishing dead last in hits and runs scored. Friend fanned 1,662 batters, which is still the Pirates' record, to go along with 36 shutouts. He was a four-time All-Star selection and a member of the 1960 World Series championship team.
Starting Pitcher: Doug Drabek (1987-1992)
A key member of the Pirates rise to glory in the early 1990s, Drabek went 92-62 with a 3.02 ERA and was named the 1990 NL Cy Young Award winner.
Left Handed Specialist: John Candelaria (1975-1985, 1993)
"The Candy Man" was dominant with the Buccos, tossing a no-hitter on Aug. 9, 1976 vs. the Dodgers. Candelaria went 124-87 as a Pirate, with 1,159 Ks and 16 saves to boot. Candelaria was selected to the 1977 All-Star game and a member of the 1979 World Series champions.
Set-Up Reliever: Harvey Haddix (1959-1963)
Haddix is best known for throwing a perfect game through 12 innings before the Pirates fell to the Milwaukee Braves in the 13th inning, thanks to an error, a sacrifice bunt, an intentional walk to Hank Aaron, and then a double by Joe Adcock that delivered a 1-0 victory for the Braves. Haddix went 45-38 as a Pirate, and was the winning pitcher in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series vs. the Yankees. Haddix was a a three-time All-Star and a three-time Gold Glover.
Closer: Elroy Face (1953-1968)
The career leader in saves for the Buccos with 188, Face was a six-time All-Star and a world champion in 1960. Face went 100-93 with the Pirates, including a remarkable 18-1 record in 1959. He finished with 842 strikeouts.