Top Five starting rotations in Pittsburgh Pirates history

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Mar 9, 2015; Bradenton, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates former player Bill Mazeeroski brings the lineup to the plate before a spring training baseball game against the Minnesota Twins at McKechnie Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

3. 1965 Pittsburgh Pirates:

Coming out of the 1950s, the Pirates shocked the baseball world by winning the World Series in 1960, but for most of the next few seasons, the Pirates were very up and down. The 1965 team was a great sign of what was to come in the late 60s and early 70s as Roberto Clemente continued to be the best right fielder in the game and Willie Stargell showed plenty of power as he slugged 27 home runs and drove in 107RBI. However, lost in the offense was an absolutely terrific four-man pitching rotation.

Vern Law lead the way as he was the most valuable pitcher in the rotation. He went 17-9 with a 2.15ERA, 3.13FIP, 163ERA+ and accumulated 4.8WAR. Law was everything you could want your ace to be.

Bob Veale also put up a fantastic season for the Pirates as he collected 17 wins and 12 losses with a 2.84ERA, 2.11FIP, 123ERA+ and was worth 4.0WAR.

Don Cardwell is best known as a member of the 1969 miracle Mets, but he was really solid in his four seasons in Pittsburgh. 1965 was his best as a member of the Pirates as he went 13-10 with a 3.18ERA 3.65FIP, 110ERA+ and was worth 1.8WAR.

Bob Friend was a great pitcher for a lot of very bad Pirates teams, so it was great to see him rewarded with the 1960 World Series and that he remained a very good pitcher when the team finally started to show improvement. In 1965, he went 8-12 with a 3.24ERA, 3.13FIP, 108ERA+ and accumulated 2.3WAR.

3. 1965 rotation:

  1. Bob Veale (17-12, 2.84ERA, 2.11FIP, 123ERA+ and 4.0WAR)
  2. Don Cardwell (13-10, 3.18ERA, 3.65FIP, 110ERA+ and 1.8WAR)
  3. Bob Friend (8-12, 3.24ERA, 3.13FIP, 108ERA+ and 2.3WAR)
  4. Vern Law (17-9, 2.15ERA, 3.13FIP, 163ERA+ and 4.8WAR)

Staff Totals: 2.85ERA, 3.00FIP, 126ERA+ and 12.9WAR

Full stats:

1 Bob Veale* 17 12 2.84 37 2 14 7 266.0 221 98 84 5 119 276 123 2.11 1.278
2 Don Cardwell 13 10 3.18 34 2 12 2 240.1 214 101 85 21 59 107 110 3.65 1.136
3 Bob Friend 8 12 3.24 34 0 8 2 222.0 221 89 80 17 47 74 108 3.59 1.207
4 Vern Law 17 9 2.15 28 1 13 4 217.1 182 66 52 17 35 101 163 3.13 0.998
Rank in 10 NL teams 3 8 2 3 3 1 2 2 2 1 6 8

Most fans know the 1950s may have been the worst decade in Pirates history and most know the 1970s may have been the best, but outside of the World Series 1960 years, the 1960s were very up and down. The 1965 Pirates won 90 games and showed a lot of what was to come in the next 10 or so years. While it’s easy to overlook a team that finished third in the NL, you cannot ignore how good this pitching staff was. They didn’t collect a ton of wins, but all their other numbers show they were among the league’s best rotations.

While 12.9WAR is nothing to sneeze at for a starting rotation, number two on our last, laughs at what the 1965 Pirates did mostly while completely dominating in the post-dead ball era.

Next: Number Two