Pittsburgh Pirates: Top 5 Shortstops in Franchise History

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 13: Dick Groat #24 of the Pittsburgh Pirates fielding during a MLB game against the New York Mets on April 13, 1962 in New York, New York. (Photo by Herb Scharfman/Sports Imagery/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 13: Dick Groat #24 of the Pittsburgh Pirates fielding during a MLB game against the New York Mets on April 13, 1962 in New York, New York. (Photo by Herb Scharfman/Sports Imagery/Getty Images) /
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circa 1910: American baseball player Honus Wagner (1874 – 1955), aka ‘The Flying Dutchman,’ infielder, outfielder and slugger for the Pittsburgh Pirates, crouches with a baseball bat in his hand near a group of bats ourside a dugout. (Photo by Photo File/Getty Images)
circa 1910: American baseball player Honus Wagner (1874 – 1955), aka ‘The Flying Dutchman,’ infielder, outfielder and slugger for the Pittsburgh Pirates, crouches with a baseball bat in his hand near a group of bats ourside a dugout. (Photo by Photo File/Getty Images) /

Number 1 Honus Wagner

Yea, you probably saw this coming. Honus Wagner is not only the best shortstop in Pittsburgh Pirates history, most people would tell you that he is the greatest shortstop of all-time, and quite possibly even a top 10 player to ever step onto a pro baseball field.

Wagner spent 18 years playing for the Pirates and put up  a .328/.394/.468 line. Wagner was a 5-tool-player. He led the league in stolen bases five different times, and in his prime (1900-1912), he averaged 50 stolen bases per 162 games.

Wagner may have only hit 82 home runs in his career, but Wagner was a monster power hitter. While he usually posted a slugging percentage in the low-to-mid .500’s, the average slugging percentage throughout his career usually sat in the low-to-mid .300’s. Wagner was consistently 10-25% above the average. In today’s game, the one’s who sit 10-25% above the average slugging are names such as Christian Yelich, Anthony Rendon, and Nelson Cruz.

Wagner leads all shortstops in wRC+ at 147 (min. 5000 career PA’s). He also leads all shortstops in wOBA (.408). Honus even surpasses Alex Rodriguez in adjusted batting and base running combined at 704.7. Wagner’s 130.8 bWAR is the 10th highest of all-time, regardless of position.

One last thing that I want to bring up that made Honus Wagner great. In 1908, Wagner hit .354/.415/.542 with 53 stolen bases across 640 plate appearances. He racked up 39 doubles, 19 triples and 10 home runs. Simply put, Wagner was great in 1908. He was so great, OPS+ has pinned him about 105% above the MLB average, with a 205 OPS+ (100 is average). Wagner owns one of just 60 seasons in baseball history where a player has reached that plateau.

Next. Breakout Candidate: Geoff Hartlieb. dark

Wagner was born in Carnegie and spent his entire life in Pittsburgh. After retiring as a player, Wagner spent 19 seasons as a coach with the Pirates. Unsurprisingly, Wagner was a member of the inaugural MLB Hall of Fame class in 1936.

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