Pittsburgh Pirates: Best First Round Picks in Franchise History
By Noah Wright
Number One – Barry Bonds
Whether you love him or hate him, you can’t deny that Barry Bonds was a very talented baseball player, and could flash all 5 tools. Bonds was drafted by the Pirates by the Pirates with the 6th overall selection in the 1985 MLB Draft.
Bonds made his debut in 1986, but like McCutchen, his career wouldn’t hit superstardom until a few years into his Major League career. From 1986 to 1989, Bonds hit .256/.345/.458 with 84 home runs, 117 stolen bases, and 124 OPS+. Although he wasn’t hitting like the Bonds we all know, he showed so much potential stealing at least 30 bases in three of his first 4 MLB seasons, and hitting 16 or more home runs in the 4 seasons. This includes a 1988 season where he had a .859 OPS, 24 home runs, and a 148 OPS+.
But then Bonds hit it big for the last three years of his Pirates tenure. From 1990 to 1992, Barry hit .301/.424/.566 line, slugged 92 home runs, and swiped 134 bases. Overall, he was about 70-80% above the league average with a 177 OPS+ and 172 wRC+. His 1992 season might be the best in Pirates history when he batted .311/.456/.624 with 34 home runs, 39 stolen bases, and a 198 wRC+. That wRC+ ranks as the highest mark in Pirates history.
Bonds also racked up 117 total zone runs above average and 11.2 defensive WAR, making him a top tier defender as well. Overall, Bonds’ not only has the highest WAR for any Pirates first rounder, but he also ranks among some of the best Pirates players of all time in fWAR coming in at 8th place at 48.4.