Pittsburgh Pirates want fans’ help to determine ‘Franchise Four’

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The Pittsburgh Pirates are looking towards their fans to help them determine the four players who had the biggest impact in their storied history.  These hallowed names are also considered as being the best representatives of Pirate baseball through the years.

You can click here to find the list and cast your vote.  Here is a quick list of the highlights amongst the eight choices.

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Barry Bonds is a name that is sure to draw the ire of many Pirates fans.  Bonds spent seven seasons with the Pirates, from 1986 through 1992.  In that time, he slashed .275/.380/.503, collecting 176 HR/556RBI/251SB/672 R.  He won two MVP awars and finished second in a third season.  It was during his time as a Pirate that Bonds developed into a consistent major league hitter, leading the league in OPS for three consecutive years while also showing consistent speed. During his time with the Pirates, amassing two 30-30 seasons, one of which was highlighted by 52 stolen bases.  Despite the ill-will left in his departure, he is a lock for the Franchise Four.

It was during his time as a Pirate that Bonds developed into the consistent major league hitter, leading the league in OPS for three consecutive years

Honus Wagner is a name that is perhaps best known as the face of the most valuable baseball card in history, yet one look at his numbers should make any Bucco fan wish they could have seen him play.  During his 21-year career, spanning 1897 through 1917 (18 of them with the Pirates), Wagner amassed a cumulative WAR value of 120.3, easily the all-time leader in this metric for the Pirates.  Not surprising when looking at his career slash of .328/.394/.468.  While not a power hitter by any means (his highest single-season total in that area was 10), Wagner’s all around game was impressive, leading the league in RBI several times over, and averaging 35 steals per year.  He holds five spots in the top 10 single WAR years for the Pirates ballclub, and rightfully so.  He too, is a lock for this honor.

Last, we look at Roberto Clemente.  Playing his entire 18-year career with Pittsburgh, no one single player in franchise history likely made as big of an impact as Clemente.  Whether on the diamond or off-the-field, no one represented their club better than Roberto.  Statistically speaking, he could do it all, leading the league in hits twice as well as batting average four times, including a gaudy .357/.400/.554 slash in 1967.  Perhaps most importantly, his postseason batting line of .318/.354/.449 is impressive, including his World Series MVP in 1971.  What I find the most astounding is that his career strikeout rate is an incredibly-low 13%, showing a plate discipline that is unheard of for an everyday player with his longevity.

As Pirate fans, we should feel lucky that our franchise has such a storied history to draw from.  Please take a few moments to vote for your favorite historical Pittsburgh Pirates.  You may notice some names missing here, such as Bill Mazeroski and Willie Stargell.  Think they are locks?  Let us know in the comments or on social media!

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