It’s not hard to figure out who the greatest player in Pirates history is. Honus Wagner is arguably a top-10 player of all-time in Major League Baseball history. If you are going to base this thought on WAR alone, it’s exactly at No. 10 where he falls.
The 130.8 WAR for Wagner beats out plenty of legends. It’s nearly twice as high as anyone else in Pirates history, with the exception of Roberto Clemente.
The great thing about Wagner, aside from his baseball skills, is how even people who never saw him play know the name. This is a little mind-blowing considering he played his last MLB game more than 100 years ago in a career that began in the 1800s.
Wagner joined the Pirates in 1900 and stayed for 18 seasons. While with Pittsburgh, he had 2,967 hits and slashed .328/.394/.468. He won 8 batting titles and led the league multiple times in hits, doubles, RBI and stolen bases, among other numbers.
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In addition to his league dominance, Wagner leads all Pirates players in multiple categories. This includes runs scored and plate appearances. So nobody has represented the Pirates more at the plate than the franchise’s greatest player. That’s a pretty nice claim.
Wagner’s legacy is survived by his many accomplishments on the field and the fact that his T206 baseball card issued by the American Tobacco Company from 1909 to 1911 is regarded as the most valuable in history. Its rarity is legendary among baseball fans, whether they’ve ever collected cards or not.
In 1936, Wagner was part of the first-class elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Both an all-time Pirate and baseball player, he’s a true legend of American athletics and pioneer of the game we all love.
Which Pirates players would make it into your top-30?