Pittsburgh Pirates: Five Best Third Basemen in Team History
By Noah Wright
Number Four – Bobby Bonilla
Had Bobby Bonilla even graded out as an average defender, he probably would have been higher on this list. Bonilla was acquired by the Bucs from the White Sox during the 1986 season, and the slugger would make his presence known in 1987 when he batted .300/.351/.481 with 15 home runs and 33 doubles. Good for a 118 OPS+/117 wRC+.
Bonilla’s transition on the field was pretty much the opposite of Bob Elliot. Bonilla was mainly a third baseman for the first handful of seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and transitioned to the outfield in his last few seasons. Overall though, he only had -17 total zone runs with the Pirates at the hot corner, and -10 when he was moved to the outfield.
But Bonilla was mainly known for his bat during his Pirates’ tenure. In 3,485 plate appearances, Bonilla hit .284/.357/.481 with 114 home runs and 191 doubles. Overall, he had a 132 wRC+, the highest among all Pirates’ third basemen, and 134 OPS+. Bonilla was quite often in MVP talks, as he finished 2nd and 3rd in MVP voting in 1990 and 1991. Bonilla was an extra base machine during his time in Pittsburgh. His 162 game averages for home runs and doubles was 23 and 38.