By Jason Shetler
As the Pirates are in search of a first baseman this offseason, I thought I’d do a list of the Top 10 Pirates first baseman of all-time.
10. Kevin Young – The Pirates drafted Young in the seventh round of the 1990 draft. He played for them up until 1996, when he was then released and was signed by the Kansas City Royals. Young returned to the Pirates prior to 1997, and remained in Pittsburgh for the rest of his career. All together, Young played 11 seasons with the Bucs, where he batted .259, while posting a ,762 OPS, along with an OPS+ of 95. He hit 136 home runs and drove in 583 runs in 1,150 games.
9. Sid Bream – On August 31, 1985, the Pirates traded Bill Madlock to the Los Angeles Dodgers for players to be named. A week later, the Pirates acquired Sid Bream as one of those players. Bream played six years with the Pirates, as he hit .269, with a .770 OPS, a 112 OPS+, 57 homers and 293 RBI in 643 games.
8. Bob Robertson – The Pirates signed Robertson as an amateur player in 1964. Robertson became the Pirates starting baseman in 1969, a role that he would have until 1974, when he began to platoon with Willie Stargell. In nine seasons, Robertson batted .245, with a .772 OPS, a 115 OPS+, 106 home runs and 339 RBI.
7. Adam LaRoche – In their pursuit of a first baseman following the 2006 season, the Pirates acquired Adam LaRoche from the Atlanta Braves in a deal for Mike Gonzalez. While LaRoche was given criticism from Pirates fans, some of it unfair, he posted good numbers for them. In 375 games, LaRoche hit .265, along with an .806 OPS, an OPS+ of 112, 58 homers and 213 RBI.
6. Donn Clendenon – Clendenon signed as an amateur free agent with the Pirates in 1957. In 1962, he finished runner-up for National League Rookie of the Year, as he hit .302, along with an .853 OPS. Clendenon played eight seasons with the Pirates, hitting .280, with a .775 OPS, a 119 OPS+, 106 home runs and 488 RBI in 982 games.
5. Gus Suhr – The Pirates signed Suhr as an amateur before 1925. Suhr made his debut with the Pirates in 1930, and played there until 1939. He batted .278, as he posted a .794 OPS, an OPS+ of 112, 79 home runs and 789 RBI. Suhr made the All-Star team in 1936, and holds the Pirates record for most games played at first base with 1,339.
4. Dick Stuart – Stuart signed with the Bucs in 1951 as an amateur. In 1953 and 1954, Stuart served time in the Military, and returned to the Pirates organization in 1955. Nicknamed “Dr. Strangeglove”, because of his less than adequate defensive play, Stuart played five seasons with Pittsburgh, where he was a vital part of the Pirates 1960 World Series championship club, and was an All-Star the following year. He batted .273, along with an .839 OPS, a 121 OPS+, 117 homers and drove in 390 runs in 559 games.
3. George Grantham – The Pirates acquired Grantham from the Chicago Cubs on October 27, 1924 in a deal for Wilbur Cooper. His first year with the Pirates, Grantham helped lead them to their second World Series title. He played seven years with them, where he hit .315, with a .901 OPS, an OPS+ of 129, 74 home runs and 508 RBI in 913 games played.
2. Jake Beckley – The Pirates purchased Beckley from the St. Louis Whites of the Western Association back in 1888 when they were still known as the Alleghenys. For eight years, he anchored (no pun intended) first base for the Alleghenys/Pirates. Beckley didn’t seem like the prototypical first baseman, as he only stood 5’10, but still put up impressive numbers. He batted an even .300, along with an .801 OPS and a 123 OPS+. He also hit 43 homers total, which wasn’t bad considering he played in an era that wasn’t known for many home run hitters. He holds two Pirates records for most stolen bases and triples by a first baseman with 138 and 113 respectively. Beckley was elected into Cooperstown by the Veterans Committee in 1971.
1. Willie Stargell – After establishing himself as one of the greatest outfielders in Pirates history, Stargell moved to first base on a regular basis in 1975, and would play there until he ended his career in 1982. During his time as a first baseman, “Pops” batted .273, with an .840 OPS, a 130 OPS+, and hit 129 home runs while driving in 433 runs. In addition to his productive numbers, despite being in his late 30’s, Stargell also earned a couple more accolades, as he made the All-Star team in 1978 and was the co-National League’s Most Valuable Player in 1979. He of course was the face of the Pirates 79′ “We Are Family” World Series team. Although Stargell played majority of his 21 year career in the outfield, he’s also regarded as the best first baseman in franchise history.