By Jason Shetler
Whenever we think about Pirates players throughout history we tend to think Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell, Honus Wagner, Barry Bonds and so forth, but I thought I would do a list of Pirates players who were good, but don’t get much recognition.
10. Richie Zisk – Zisk spent the first six years of his career with the Pirates where he hit .299 with an .842 OPS in 578 games. He batted over .300 in both 1973 and 1974.
9. Bill Robinson – The native of McKeesport, Robinson spent eight seasons with the Bucs from 1975 to 1982. He hit .276 to go along with a .790 OPS in 805 games.
8. Bob Walk – The Pirates longtime color man spent 10 seasons with the Pirates from 1984 to 1993 where he posted a 3.83 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP in 1,303 innings pitched. When you think about the Pirates rotation in the early 90’s, you tend to think of Doug Drabek and John Smiley, but Walkie was a pretty significant part as well.
7. Bob Moose – The Murrysville native spent all 10 of his big league seasons with his hometown Pirates from 1967 to 1976. He compiled a 3.50 ERA along with a 1.30 WHIP in 1,303.2 innings pitched and helped lead the Pirates to the 1971 World Series.
6. Smoky Burgess – Burgess came to Pittsburgh in 1959 and played there until 1964. He batted .296 with a .798 OPS in 586 games and was a key piece to the Pirates World Series run in 1960. You could make an argument that he was the Pirates first good offensive hitting catcher.
5. Fred Clarke – Clarke spent 15 seasons for the Pirates from 1900 to 1915 and became the first ever player-manager in franchise history. Although people remember Clarke as being one of the better managers in Pirates history, some forget that he was also a good ballplayer as well. As a player, he hit .299 and had a .797 OPS in 1,479 games and finished runner-up twice for the NL batting title in 1897 and 1903. He was inducted into Cooperstown by the Old Timers Committee in 1945.
4. Frank Thomas – The Pirates version of Frank Thomas played eight seasons in Pittsburgh from 1951 to 1958 where he batted .275 with an .807 OPS in 925 games and was a three-time All-Star for the Bucs.
3. Wilbur Cooper – Cooper pitched 13 seasons for the Pirates from 1912 to 1924 and posted a 2.89 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP in 3,199 innings pitched. His 216 wins are the most in franchise history and he still remains the only Pirates pitcher to win at least 200 games.
2. Sam Leever – Leever like Cooper also pitched 13 seasons for the Pirates. From 1898 to 1910, he won 194 games while posting a 2.47 ERA with a 1.14 WHIP in 388 games pitched and had the NL’s lowest ERA in 1903.
1. Babe Adams – Charles “Babe” Adams spent 18 seasons for the Pirates from 1907 to 1926. He like Leever also won 194 games with the Bucs. He compiled a 2.76 ERA to go along with a 1.09 WHIP in 582 games pitched. Adams pitched on the Pirates two World Series winners in 1909 and 1925 and posted a combined 1.29 ERA in the postseason for them.