Ranking the Pirates Hall of Famers

By Jason Shetler

This week marks the annual Hall of Fame election. The Pirates have approximately 12 Hall of Famers in their franchise history, so I’m now going to rank the dozen of Pirates greats.

12. Lloyd Waner: Known as “Little Poison” by being the younger brother of “Big Poison” Paul Waner, Lloyd Waner played 15 seasons for the Pirates from 1927 to 1941 where he batted .319 along with a .755 OPS, a 100 OPS+ and compiled a 24.0 WAR. He was an All-Star in 1938. In 7,774 plate appearances, he struckout just 167 times. Waner was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1967 by the Veteran’s Committee.

11. Pie Traynor: Regarded as the greatest Pirates third baseman, Harold “Pie” Traynor played 18 seasons in Pittsburgh from 1920 to 1937. He batted .320 while posting a .797 OPS, a 107 OPS+, a WAR total of 36.2 and was a two-time All-Star. Traynor was elected into Cooperstown in 1948.

10. Jake Beckley: Jake Beckley was one of the original Pirates, starting off with the Pittsburgh Alleghenys. He played for the Alleghenys/Pirates from 1888 to 1896, hitting an even .300 with an .801 OPS, a 123 OPS+ and a 26.8 WAR. The Veteran’s Committee elected Beckley into the Hall of Fame in 1971.

9. Bill Mazeroski: #9 on the list is the man who wore #9 Bill Mazeroski. Maz spent his entire career for the Pirates from 1956 to 1972. He was a .260 hitter, posting just a .667 OPS, an 84 OPS+, and a 36.2 WAR. His glove work was his calling card, as he posted a .983 fielding percentage (7% above league average), and a 23.9 dWAR. Mazeroski captured eight Gold Gloves and is considered the greatest defensive second baseman of all-time. In 2001, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame by the Veteran’s Committee.

8. Max Carey: Max Carey spent 17 seasons in Pittsburgh from 1910 to 1926. He hit .287 along with an OPS of .754, a 111 OPS+ and a 52.4 WAR. Carey was known primarily for his basestealing, as he stole 688 bases, which is the franchise record. The Veteran’s Committee inducted him in 1961.

7. Fred Clarke: The Pirates obtained Fred Clarke as part of a 15-player deal from the Louisville Colonels in 1899. Clarke played 15 seasons for the Pirates as a player manager, the first in franchise history. As a player, he batted .299 along with a .797 OPS, a 136 OPS+ and a 46.7 WAR. While managing, he posted a .595 winning percentage, capturing four National League pennants and a World Series crown in 1909. Clarke was elected into Cooperstown by the Old Timer’s Committee in 1945.

6. Paul Waner: The older brother of “Little Poison” Lloyd Waner, “Big Poison” Paul began his career with the Pirates in 1926 and played with them until 1940. Waner compiled a .340 average, an .896 OPS, a 136 OPS+ and a 68.2 WAR. He was a four-time All-Star and was given the Hall of Fame nod in 1952. 

5. Arky Vaughan: From 1932 to 1941, Arky Vaughan was the Pirates shortstop. The nine-time All-Star is not only one of the more underrated shortstops in baseball history, but one of the best players during the 1930’s. Vaughan hit .324 along with an .887 OPS, a 141 OPS+ and a 64.0 WAR. His election into the Hall of Fame was by the Veteran’s Committee in 1985.

4. Willie Stargell: One of the most beloved players in Pittsburgh sports history, Willie Stargell played all 21 seasons with the Pirates from 1962 to 1982. The man known affectionately as “Pops” was a seven-time All-Star, compiling a .282 average, an .889 OPS, a 147 OPS+ and a 57.5 WAR. He of course is also the Pirates career home run leader with 475. Stargell was inducted into Cooperstown on his first year on the ballot in 1988.

3. Ralph Kiner: Ralph Kiner debuted for the Pirates in 1946 and played with them until 1953. Despite playing just eight seasons in Pittsburgh, Kiner put up very prodigious numbers, as he posted a .971 OPS, a 157 OPS+ and a 44.6 WAR while being a seven-time All-Star. In 1947, he became the first player since Babe Ruth in 1928 to hit 50 home runs in a season. Kiner would have another 50 homer season in 1949. In 1975, he was elected to the Hall of Fame by the BBWAA.

2. Roberto Clemente: In 1954, the Pirates took Roberto Clemente in the Rule 5 Draft from the Brooklyn Dodgers. Who knew that a Rule 5 Draftee would go on to put up Hall of Fame accolades? -From 1955 to 1972, Clemente hit .317 while posting an .834 OPS, a 130 OPS+ and a 94.4 WAR. In addition, he was a 12-time All-Star, a 12-time Gold Glove winner, a four-time batting champion and the only Pirate to amass 3,000 hits. In 1966, Clemente would become the first Latin American born player to win the MVP award. Following his death in a plane crash on New Year’s Eve of 1972, Clemente was inducted into Cooperstown in 1973 as part of a special election.

1. Honus Wagner: The unquestioned greatest Hall of Famer in Pirates history is indeed “The Flying Dutchman” Honus Wagner. During his 18 seasons with the Pirates from 1900 to 1917, Wagner batted .328 with an .862 OPS, a 154 OPS+ and a 120.3 WAR. He went on to win eight batting titles and had ten seasons in which he posted a .400 on base or better. Wagner helped lead the Pirates to their first World Series championship in 1909. He was elected into the inaugural Baseball Hall of Fame class in 1936.

 

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