Today in Pittsburgh Pirates History – November 15th


Over 40 years ago, an MVP award was given to a Pittsburgh Pirates player for the 4th time in MLB history. This Bucco was well deserving of the award in 1978, and his argument to be in the hall of fame continues to go on today.

On this day in Pittsburgh Pirates history, Dave Parker won the National League Most Valuable Player award. “The Cobra” had a monstrous year the plate en route to his second consecutive NL batting title. Parker posted a slash line of .334/.394/.585 and smashed 30 home runs. Parked led the league in number of categories, via baseball reference:

Batting Average – .334
Slugging – .585
OPS – .979
OPS+ – 166
Total Bases – 340
Intentional Walks – 23
Offensive WAR – 6.9
Total Bases – 340
Doubles – 44
Runes Created – 134
Adjusted Batting Runs – 50
Adjusted Batting Wins – 5.0
Win Probability Added – 6.4
Situational Wins Added – 6.3
Base-out Wins Added – 7.0

Parker was a seven-time All-Star when his career came to a close after the 1991 season. For reasons still unknown, he was not named an All-Star in his ‘78 campaign. Regardless, Parker’s season remains one of the best and included a Gold Glove award.

Parker’s 1978 season did not come without adversity, however. In a game against the Mets on June 30th, Parker collided with Mets catcher John Steams in a game-ending play at the plate. Parker, who had ran over catchers earlier that season, broke his jaw and cheekbone during the play. Despite the injury, Parker missed a total of just 15 games in the 1978 season and would be a cog in the 1979 World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates team.

Parker was not only one of the best outfielders in baseball in the late 70’s, but one of the best players overall. The debate over whether he belongs in the hall of fame or not continues to this day. Parker received 24.5% of votes on the 1998 ballot, but has not matched that number since. Cobra will have another shot in 2020, as he is on the Veterans Ballot alongside Don Mattingly, Thurman Munson, and others.

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Today, a total of seven Buccos have won the NL MVP award. The most recent, of course, being Andrew McCutchen in 2013.