Pittsburgh Pirates: Five Best First Basemen in Franchise History

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PITTSBURGH, PA – 1983: Jason Thompson of the Pittsburgh Pirates bats during a Major League Baseball game at Three Rivers Stadium in 1983 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)

Number Four – Jason Thompson

After Stargell’s reign of terror over National League pitchers came to an end in 1979, Jason Thompson was the next player to take over the reigns at first base. This is Thompson did with the Bucs in 1981.

Thompson had been an established player before coming to the Pittsburgh Pirates. The slugger had made two All-Star Games, had a 120 OPS+ and hit at least 20 long balls in each of the previous four seasons with the Detroit Tigers and California Angels before making his way to Pittsburgh.

Thompson’s tenure with Pittsburgh got off to a blazing hot start. In a strike-shortened 1981 season, Thompson batted .242/.396/.502 with 15 home runs, 13 doubles and a 150 OPS+/155 wRC+ in 285 plate appearances. Thompson followed that up with another great season in 1982 when he hit .284/.391/.511 with 31 long balls and 32 doubles, all accumulating to a 147 OPS+ and 152 wRC+.

Although he wouldn’t reach those heights again with the Pittsburgh Pirates, he was still an above average batter with a 112 OPS+ from 1983 to 1985. Overall in his Pirates’ tenure, Thompson had a .259/.375/.432 line with a 125 OPS+ and 127 wRC+. His wRC+ ranks 2nd among all Pirates’ first basemen. His on-base percentage also ranks second among all Pirate first basemen, as well as hit walk rate (15.9%).

Defensively, Thompson was not great in the field with -21 total zone runs and a -6.1 dWAR. Regardless, his offense was very good during his time in Pittsburgh, and that places him here at number four.

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