Second Baseman – Freddy Sanchez
Freddy Sanchez is an all-time great story in Pittsburgh Pirates history. The right-handed hitter was born with a clubbed foot that required surgery as a child. This was followed with years of physical therapy.
Despite this, Sanchez over came this to become a star athlete. In high school he was a three-year letter winner in football. He was also a summer league baseball teammate of the aforementioned Wilson.
Sanchez had an interesting career with the Pirates. Early in his career he battled injuries. Then in July of 2004, he was traded by the Boston Red Sox, along with Mike Gonzalez, to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
After slashing .291/.336/.400 in a reserve role in 2005, Sanchez broke out in 2006. Becoming the team’s every day third baseman due to an injury to Joe Randa, Sanchez played in 157 games slashing .344/.378/.473 with a 119 wRC+ and a league leading 53 doubles. His .344 batting average won him the NL batting crown, and led to him being named an All-Star for the first time in his career. Best of all, the 2006 All-Star Game was played at PNC Park in Pittsburgh.
Sanchez’s performance led to him winning a starting job. When Randa returned from injury, Sanchez replaced Jose Castillo as the starting second baseman. This was a role he would serve with the Pirates until he was traded to the San Francisco Giants at the 2009 trade deadline.
Sanchez was named an All-Star again in 2007 and 2009. On top of being one of the most consistent hitters in the NL, he was also a plus defender at second base accumulating a 23.2 dWAR at second base between 2006 and 2009.
Sanchez is not just one of the best stories in Pirate history, he is also one of the best pure hitters in franchise history. To this day, Pirate announcers Bob Walk and John Wehner still reference Sanchez whenever a batter flares a base hit into right field due to how often Sanchez would do this during his hay day with the Bucs.