Pittsburgh Pirates: Best First Round Picks in Franchise History
By Noah Wright
Number Four – Jason Kendall
Jason Kendall, the 23rd overall pick in the 1992 MLB Draft, was quite athletic for a catcher. Kendall stole 15 or more bases five different times during his Pittsburgh Pirates tenure, including a three year stretch from 1998 to 2000 where he stole at least 22. Overall, he had a 5.0 speed score from FanGraphs.
Kendall not only was a good base runner but a solid batter. During his nine-year tenure with Pittsburgh, the speedy catcher batted .306/.387/.418. Kendall also clocked in with a 108 OPS+ and 113 wRC+. Kendall’s wRC+ mark is the highest among Pirates catchers of all time (min. 3000 plate appearances).
Defensively, he was not the best. He had his moments, and was usually good at catching runners trying to steal on him, but Kendall was an awful pitch framer. Kendall consistently ranked in the bottom tiers of framing runs saved, like in 2000 when he cost the team 39 runs because of his framing.
To this day, Kendall remains one of the most popular Pirate players of recent memory. He even made his pitch to 93.7 The Fan this past offseason as to why he would make a good manager for the Bucs before Derek Shelton was hired.