We could all debate who the greatest pitcher in Pirates history is. Frankly, not many of us can go off more than statistics. From looking at those numbers, I believe the title belongs to Wilbur Cooper. Their ERAs are an exact match which is why I give the edge to the man who won more games.
Cooper pitched for the Pirates from 1912 to 1924. During this time, he won a team record 202 games, while also tossing a franchise-best 263 complete games. Although, he does place second in WAR to Babe Adams by only a slight margin at 48 to 49.8.
Cooper isn’t a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, but he sure could be. Because he pitched in relief often, I feel as if he didn’t have an opportunity to amass more wins than he did. This was the case for many pitchers back then, including Adams.
Measuring Cooper’s numbers up to today’s standards is impossible. When he played a century ago, pitchers stayed in games longer.
On a side note, Cooper was a pretty good hitter, too. He batted .240/.270/.305 while with the Pirates. In 1922, he hit the only four home runs of his Pittsburgh career.
Unfortunately for Cooper, he never got to play in the postseason with the Pirates. They traded him a year before winning the 1925 World Series.
In today’s MLB, it’s hard enough to win 200 games. Cooper will likely go down as the only player in Pirates history to leave the ballpark with 200 victories. The National League will be lucky enough to see someone else accomplish this in our lifetime, let alone one city with a single player.