Pittsburgh Pirates Top Five Third Basemen
By David Hill
1. Pie Traynor (1920-1935, 1937)
There was a time when Pie Traynor was considered to be one of the best third basemen, not just of his generation, but ever. However, when looking at his numbers through the lens of the modern era of baseball, when third has become a far more offensive position than it was back when Traynor played, and his numbers pale in comparison.
Yet, Traynor was thought so highly of during his playing days, that he was named the starting third baseman for the National League during the first ever All-Star Game in 1933. He received the same honor the following year, even though it was obvious that he was not the same player due to injuries. However, in his prime, Traynor was a brilliant defensive third baseman with incredible range and an excellent bat.
During his time with the Pirates, Pie Traynor put together a .320/.362/.435 batting line with 371 doubles and 158 stolen bases. While Traynor was never a power hitter, he did finish eighth with 12 home runs in 1923. Defensively, Traynor ranks fifth all time with 2289 putouts at third, and was consistently among the league leaders virtually every defensive metric from the mid to the late 1920’s. If Gold Gloves had been given out back then, Traynor definitely would have won quite a few.
Pie Traynor may be not be viewed in the same light that he was during his playing days, but he was definitely a great third baseman in his era. In fact, he was the best third baseman in Pittsburgh Pirates history.