Pittsburgh Pirates: Ranking the Team’s Eight MVP Seasons
By Noah Wright
1979 National League MVP – Willie Stargell
It’s odd to think that out of all the years Willie Stargell played, and how great he was in previous seasons, this was the year Stargell finally captured NL MVP honors. Not that he was bad or anything, but it was far from his best season.
The slugger still hit .281/.352/.552 with a 139 OPS+/137 wRC+ and 32 home runs in 480 plate appearances. But it pales in comparison from his 1971-1978 stats when he hit .290/.382/.561, and averaged 30-40 home runs a season, including 4, 150+ OPS+ seasons.
1979 was the fourth full season Stargell played first base. He only had -5 total zone runs above average at the corner infield position, but his bat was the big threat here. Plus with it being 1979, many voters may have looked at his three errors and .997 fielding percentage. Overall, he had a 2.7 fWAR which only ranked 30th in the National League
Stargell actually tied with Keith Hernandez for National League MVP, despite getting more first place votes, and Hernandez having better overall offensive stats, a bWAR over triple of Stargell’s, and being a top tier defender, not just at first base but in all of baseball. Undoubtedly, Stargell benefited from the Fam-A-Lee Pittsburgh Pirates being the story of MLB that year on their way to a World Series Championship, and Stargell being the leader of the group.