Pittsburgh Pirates: 30 greatest players in franchise history

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Willie Stargell, Pittsburgh Pirates
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

. 1B/LF. 1962-82. Willie Stargell. 4. player. 4

Some sluggers don’t get the credit they deserve. I believe Willie Stargell is one of those men.

All 21 of his MLB seasons took place as a member of the Pirates. During that time, he was a seven-time All-Star, two-time home run champion and an MVP winner. Men with these accomplishments are a rare breed.

Stargell began his MLB career in 1962. It only took him until 1964 to become an All-Star for the first time. By 1965, he was receiving consideration in the MVP vote on an almost yearly basis.

The best way to describe Stargell is “run producer.” He drove in 100 or more runs five times in his career. Four other times he settled for an RBI total in the 90s. He was a true monster at the plate and someone National League foes did not want to mess with.

Although he won the 1979 MVP in a year where he wasn’t even an All-Star, Stargell’s best seasons came at the beginning of the 1970s. From 1971 to 1973, Stargell put together his three best years.

They included a league-leading 48 home runs in 1971 and another home run crown in 1973 with 44 more. The 1973 season included two other notable league-leading totals. Nobody had more doubles (43) or RBI (119) than Stargell.

MVP voters took notice of his feats with a second-place finish in 1971 and 1973, as well as a third-place finish in 1972. He did eventually get the hardware years later in what ended up as his final full season.

In Pirates record books, you’ll see Stargell’s name at the top of home runs with 475, RBI with 1,540, extra base hits with 953 and multiple other categories. Nobody struck out in a Pirates uniform more, but nobody walked as much as he did either.

What made Stargell so special was his consistency. From 1964 to 1976, he always finished the year with at least 20 home runs. He was more than that, though, slashing .282/.360/.529 for his career.

The icing on the cake of his National Baseball Hall of Fame career; Stargell was the NLCS and World Series MVP in 1979 at 39 years old.