Pittsburgh Pirates Countdown: Top Five First Basemen
By David Hill
1. Jake Beckley (1888-1889, 1891-1896)
Jake Beckley was known for being a great contact hitter and for his solid speed. His place among the greats of the game is unquestioned, as he ranks in the top 50 all time in runs, hits, triples and singles. On the defensive side, Beckley is the all time leader in putouts and triple plays for a first baseman. He was truly a star on both sides of the ball.
Offensively, Beckley laid the groundwork for his Hall of Fame career in Pittsburgh, spending his first nine seasons in the city as he played for the Pittsburgh Burghers of the Player’s League in 1890. For the Pirates, Beckley produced a .300/.359/.442 batting line, good for a 123 OPS+. At a time when home runs were scarce, he was a bit of a power hitter, slugging 43 home runs with 118 doubles and 113 triples.
Defensively, Beckley was as solid as they came. Not only is he the all time leader in putouts and triple plays, he also ranks in the top 30 all time in range factor at first and is 20th in assists. It is no surprise that Beckley ranked among the league leaders in both categories virtually every season, putting him amongst the best defensive players of his time.
For his time with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and his excellent career after being traded away in 1896, Jake Beckley made the Hall of Fame in 1971. Beckley was a great all around first baseman, and the best of all time for the Pirates.
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