Number Two – Pie Traynor
Hall of Fame third baseman Pie Traynor comes in at the number two spot. Traynor was not that big of a batter even for the era. He spent his entire career with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and put up a .320/.362/.435 line. Overall, coming in with a 107 wRC+ and OPS+.
During his prime which I considered from 1923 to 1933, Traynor put up a .327/.370/.447 line, and 112 OPS+. But Traynor, despite not being a super star batter, still put up doubles totals in the high 20s and 30s, and occasionally stole a handful of bags.
Defensively, despite his -28 total zone runs at third base, he still provided some value defensively. Traynor rarely posted a negative defensive WAR in a full season. Overall, that mark was still a positive at 2. Traynor racked up a 37.8 career fWAR, the second highest among Pirates’ third basemen.
But what made Traynor extremely talented was his ability to both coach and play ball. Traynor served as a player manager in three different seasons. He managed the Pirates to a 219-191 record. Pretty good, but he also batted .297/.332/.394 with a 92 OPS+. Although he was an overall below average player, I don’t think anyone was going to complain if their manager could hit about 10% below average, and lead their team to a +.500 record.
When Traynor retired, he was considered by many to be the best third basemen in history up to that point.