Pittsburgh Pirates: Five Best First Basemen in Franchise History

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AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS – JUNE 9: Start of the pre-season training of baseball club Pirates, ball, illustratief on June 9, 2020 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands (Photo by Henk Seppen/BSR Agency/Getty Images)
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS – JUNE 9: Start of the pre-season training of baseball club Pirates, ball, illustratief on June 9, 2020 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands (Photo by Henk Seppen/BSR Agency/Getty Images) /

Number One – Elbie Fletcher

Elbie Fletcher is probably the best hitting first baseman in Pittsburgh Pirates history, and his numbers probably would have looked a lot better with the Pirates if he didn’t have to serve two years in the armed forces in 1944 and 1945. Regardless, Fletcher made most of it when he was able to take the field.

The lefty hit .279/.403/.412 with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Although not a big power threat, Fletcher had elite plate discipline. In three years straight from 1940 to 1942, Fletcher led the league in on-base percentage, accumulating a .419 mark in those three seasons. He led the league in walks twice in those two seasons.

The two year layoff from baseball didn’t affect his plate discipline and patience either as when he returned to the sport in 1946, Fletcher had a .384 OBP and 17.1% walk rate in 651 plate appearances, the second highest in his entire career. Had Fletcher batted lead off during his career more often, he probably would have averaged about 100 runs a season. He was primarily used as a five-hole batter where about 38.5% of all his plate appearances came from.

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Despite Fletcher’s lack of power, he still had a 132 wRC+, one that leads all Pirates primary first basemen. While he isn’t on this list for first basemen, Fletcher actually ties himself with Stargell in wOBA at .387. That also leads all players to man the position in Pirates history. He was also great defensively with +16 total zone runs, helping him accumulate an fWAR of 24.0.

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