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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4. . P. 1898-10. Sam Leever. 14. player

All 13 seasons of Sam Leever’s MLB career took place with the Pirates. From 1898 to 1910, not a single pitch of his at the major league level took place with any other organization. Even back then, this was somewhat uncommon.

Leever was more than a kid with perfect Pirates attendance. Each year, the Pirates could count on him for double-digit wins and an ERA below 3.18. I am almost literal with this. In all but his first and final two seasons, this description is an exact fit for Leever.

Leever won 21 games in 1899 and finished seasons with 20+ victories three more times after that. His lifetime ERA of 2.47 and 194 total wins are among the best any Pirate has ever produced. The ERA is fourth all-time with the win total tied for second-place.

In addition to those spots on the leaderboard, Leever has the fourth highest WAR for pitchers at 41.9. It’s clear to see why. He won often and didn’t give the opposing time many chances to score runs.

Leever did pitch in the 1903 World Series. Unfortunately, he didn’t perform well. In two starts, he went 0-2 with a 5.40 ERA.

For what it’s worth, Leever was spectacular in the regular season that year. He went 25-7 with a league-leading 2.06 ERA. The Pirates can credit him for helping to get them into the postseason, which at the time, landed a team directly into the World Series.

Like any pitcher who played over 100 years ago, it’s tough to know just how great he was. There were no All-Star Games or major awards back then. Considering he led the league in winning percentage three times and is right there with many other great Pirates pitchers of the time, it’s safe to put Leever among the elite.

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