Pittsburgh Pirates: Constructing the Franchise’s All-Time Defensive Team

UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1970: Outfielder Roberto Clemente' #21of Pittsburgh Pirates warms up playing catch prior to the start of a Major League Baseball game circa 1970. Clemente' Played for the Pirates from 1955-72. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1970: Outfielder Roberto Clemente' #21of Pittsburgh Pirates warms up playing catch prior to the start of a Major League Baseball game circa 1970. Clemente' Played for the Pirates from 1955-72. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) /
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Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Bill Mazeroski of the Pittsburgh Pirates holds up his plaque during induction ceremonies in Cooperstown, NY on 05 August, 2001. AFP PHOTO/Henny Ray ABRAMS (Photo by HENNY RAY ABRAMS / AFP) (Photo by HENNY RAY ABRAMS/AFP via Getty Images)
Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Bill Mazeroski of the Pittsburgh Pirates holds up his plaque during induction ceremonies in Cooperstown, NY on 05 August, 2001. AFP PHOTO/Henny Ray ABRAMS (Photo by HENNY RAY ABRAMS / AFP) (Photo by HENNY RAY ABRAMS/AFP via Getty Images) /

Second Base – Bill Mazeroski

You saw this coming from a mile away. Bill Mazeroski is arguably the best defensive second baseman in the history of Major League Baseball. While also being a top 20 all-time defender, regardless of position. Through 17 years, Maz established himself as a defensive wizard up the middle.

For starters, Maz has +148 total zone runs above average. The only Pittsburgh Pirate with a higher mark is an outfielder we’ll get to in a bit. But of all time? He is tied with Willie Mays, Robin Ventura and Jesse Barfield as one of the 20th greatest defenders and the third best at second base of all time, per total zone runs.

Then there’s his defensive WAR. At +24, he ties with George Davis as the 24th best defender of all time, regardless of position. He posted a 1.0+ dWAR in a season 12 different times. Gold Glove Awards obviously aren’t a great measure of how good a fielder is, but Maz captured the award eight times, which is just one short of the all time National League leader Ryne Sandberg who has nine.

In addition to being arguably the greatest defensive second baseman in MLB history, Maz also hit the greatest home run in MLB history. To this day he remains the only player to ever hit a walk off home run in Game 7 of the World Series.

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