Pittsburgh Pirates: 30 greatest players in franchise history

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Pittsburgh Pirates
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player. 4. . P. 1975-85, 1993. John Candeleria. 18

Lefty John Candelaria never won a major award while with the Pirates. He only made it to one All-Star Game, too. Nevertheless, he was an important part of their success in the late 1970s. His sixth-place spot in franchise history in WAR is one example of how he measures up against others from his era.

Candelaria’s MLB career began in 1975 and parts of 12 seasons were spent with the Pirates. The highest ERA he ever had in a season was only 4.01. This level of consistency made him vital.

The 1977 season is the one where Candelaria burned brightest. He went 20-5 with a league-best 2.34 ERA. His fifth-place Cy Young finish and lone All-Star selection were honors he took home as well.

Amazingly, Candelaria is the all-time leader in several pitching statistics among all Pirates. These include base-out runs saved, win-probability added and other advanced analytics. Admittedly, I’m not well-versed enough in these numbers to explain them any further than to say it’s a really good thing to be at the top of the list.

Pittsburgh could count on wins from Candelaria. He went 124-87 while representing the Pirates, posting a 3.17 ERA in his 1,873 innings pitched as a starter and reliever. If not for his poor finish in 1993, the end totals would have looked better.

One other accomplishment to note is Candelaria’s fourth-place spot in team history in strikeouts. The Pirates haven’t had too many great pitchers in the post-WWII era. Candelaria stands out as one of the better arms they have employed.