Pittsburgh Pirates: 30 greatest players in franchise history

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(Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images) /
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Manny Sanguillen, Pittsburgh Pirates
(Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images) /

Manny Sanguillen. 22. player. 4. . C. 1967-76, 1978-80

On the great Pirates teams of the 1970s, you could usually find Manny Sanguillen in the lineup. The two-time World Champion and three-time All-Star catcher spent all but one season with the Pirates. He returned to the Pirates after that one year with the Oakland Athletics, ready to help them win one more championship before his career was over.

Sanguillen was far from elite. In an era when Johnny Bench was setting a new standard for catchers, he sometimes went forgotten.

Still, Sanguillen made a name for himself in Pittsburgh. He was a true contact hitter who never struck out more than 48 times in a season. He hit over .300 four times and finished with a batting line with the Pirates of .299/.329/.403.

Sanguillen never won any major awards, but he did receive mild MVP consideration four times. In 1971, he came closest to capturing the award with an eighth-place spot in the final results.

Although he didn’t play much in the 1979 postseason, Sanguillen was an important part of the 1971 championship. He batted .379 in the seven-game series versus the Baltimore Orioles and stole a pair of bases.

One thing to note about Sanguillen’s career, which includes the year in Oakland, is that his .296 batting is the 10th highest for any catcher in MLB history. Since WWII, it’s the fourth highest.

As far as catchers go, Sanguillen is one of the best offensive ones Major League Baseball has had. He didn’t hit for incredible power, but pure hitting capabilities put him in a unique class without too many members.

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