Pittsburgh Pirates: Five Best First Basemen in Franchise History

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PITTSBURGH – C.1893. Jake Beckley, first baseman for the Pittsburgh Pirates, poses for a portrait in the Steel City in the mid 1890s. (Photo Mark Rucker/Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH – C.1893. Jake Beckley, first baseman for the Pittsburgh Pirates, poses for a portrait in the Steel City in the mid 1890s. (Photo Mark Rucker/Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images) /

Number Two – Jake Beckley

Hall of Fame first baseman Jake Beckley was part of the short lived Pittsburgh Burghers in 1890. A turn of the century player, Beckley is one of the best defensive first basemen in Pirates’ history, while also not being a terrible batter. That combined with his base running ability places him here at number two.

Beckley has a career .300/.359/.442 line with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He also has a 117 wRC+ and 123 OPS+. In an era where batting average meant a lot more since players weren’t going for extra base hits, so the stat carried much more weight, Beckley had at least 500 plate appearances and an average of at least .300 five different times. He also had 186 doubles and 113 triples.

But it was the other facets of the game that we usually don’t focus on when analyzing a first baseman that Beckley excelled at. Beckley had +46 total zone runs above average at first for the Pirates. That’s the highest total of any Pirates’ first baseman.

Since total zone takes into account things such as errors and fielding percentage, it’s a stat that shows us how good a player was defensively in a previous era where we don’t have footage to analyze. On the base paths, Beckley stole at least 15 bags 6 different times. Beckley’s 26.9 fWAR is the highest of any Pirates’ primary first baseman.

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