Pittsburgh Pirates: Forgotten All-Stars From the 20 Years of Losing
By Noah Wright
1999 Ed Sprague
In 1999, the Pittsburgh Pirates had both Jason Kendall and Brian Giles, but neither of them made the All-Star Game. They are probably who you guessed (and so did I) who were the Bucs’ reps at the Mid-Summer Classic. But no, it was one year Pirate third baseman, Ed Sprague.
Sprague was signed as a free agent by the Pirates during the 1998 -1999 off-season. Up until that point of his career, the former Blue Jay and Athletic infielder only had one season where his OPS+ reached above 100, that being in 1996. So needless to say, Sprague had a career year with the Bucs in 1999.
Sprague got off to an extremely hot start to 1999. His first 349 plate appearances yielded a .300/.402/.545 line, 16 home runs, and a 136 wRC+. Numbers that might have even put him in MVP conversation at the time, but those kinds of talks would be put to rest in the second half. Sprague completely fell off in the second half, batting just .220/.270/.350 in his final 215 plate appearances of the season. This included an August and September where he posted an OPS below .600.
Sprague’s lone All-Star season finished with a bottom line of .267/.352/.465 with 22 home runs, a 105 OPS+ and 103 wRC+. He was also an awful defender at third base, having -15 total zone runs, and a -1.3 defensive WAR throughout the season.
Despite playing two more seasons after 1999, Sprague was on three different teams. Oddly enough, he had two stints with the Padres in 2000. Sprague started the season out with the Friars, but was traded to the Red Sox at the end of June. The Red Sox then released Sprague at the end of August who was then signed by the Padres almost immediately after. Sprague ended his career after 2001 where he appeared in 45 games with the Seattle Mariners.