Pittsburgh Pirates: 30 greatest players in franchise history

(Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images) /
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Roberto Clemente, Pittsburgh Pirates
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The Pittsburgh Pirates have had plenty of great players. Which men crack the top-30 of all-time?

For more than 100 years, the Pittsburgh Pirates have taken the field annually with a roster of men looking to win a championship. As of 2019, the franchise’s record sits a few points above .500. They’ve retired eight numbers and have employed more than two dozen Hall of Famers during their existence. Some of those men are all-time greats in Major League Baseball history.

In those attempts to win a World Series, they’ve come away successful five times. It’s a rich history with periods of sustained winning and lengthy droughts they hope to never live through again.

With a history as long as this one, the most unfortunate takeaway I had when making this list of the greatest Pirates player is how few All-Stars, MVPs and Cy Young winners there were. Many of the greats played before those so honors even existed. So we don’t have those accomplishments listed on the back of their valuable baseball cards.

Still, thanks to the accessibility of record books, we’re able to look at numbers and compare Pirates players from the past to each other and major league players from all years.

When trying to decide the greatness of athletes, it’s important to look at more than numbers. The importance to the franchise is also something to weigh. The championships this team won are spread out over the years, so there aren’t too many guys who won more than one. Many of the best, though, did come away with at least one.

Like all franchises, the Pirates moved on from some players too soon or got the final, less-productive years from others. Thankfully, they did get some great seasons from many others to help make this a nice, full list capable of competing alongside most. Let’s begin with No. 30.