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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PITTSBURGH – JULY 19: Jack Wilson #2 of the Pittsburgh Pirates plays shortstop during the game against the San Francisco Giants at PNC Park on July 19, 2009 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Giants defeated the Pirates 4-3. (Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH – JULY 19: Jack Wilson #2 of the Pittsburgh Pirates plays shortstop during the game against the San Francisco Giants at PNC Park on July 19, 2009 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Giants defeated the Pirates 4-3. (Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /

Shortstop – Jack Wilson

It might be a bit questionable to put Jack Wilson here over someone like Honus Wagner, but Jack Wilson might honestly be a top five shortstop defender of all time. Let me explain why.

Jack Wilson has +116 defensive runs saved. Only one other shortstop has at least 100 DRS, that being all-time great defender already Andrelton Simmons at +193. He’s also just one of 14 fielders of all time to have reached the triple digit DRS mark. Wilson also had quite a high total zone mark of +76. On the other hand Wagner only had +67 total zone runs above average. Wilson also had an outstanding 41.3 UZR. That ranks 6th all time and tops among all Pittsburgh Pirates defenders.

Although Wilson may not have had the best of range with just 0.5 range runs above average, you can’t deny the defensive value he brought to the table. All told, Wilson has an outstanding defensive WAR mark of 18.3 with the Pirates, an 21.0 in his entire career, including reaching the 1.0 dWAR mark in a single season 10 times. That ties him with Hall of Fame second baseman Nellie Fox for the 47th highest mark of all time.

Despite all of this, Wilson never won a Gold Glove Award? Why you may ask? Well Wilson was never the flashiest of players and played on some not very popular and unexciting Pittsburgh Pirates teams of the early to late 2000s.

Gold Gloves Awards before the early-to-mid-2010s were mainly about who was popular, and who made the flashy plays. Not about who was actually good. For example in 2005, Jack Wilson’s best defensive season, he had a 4.1 dWAR, +32 DRS, +14.3 UZR and +8.0 range runs above average. The Gold Glove Award winner that year, Omar Vizquel had +1 DRS, +6.9 UZR, and +5.5 range runs above average. Good numbers, but pale in comparison to Wilson’s. Why did he take it home over Wilson? Well mainly because his name was Vizquel, a well established and well known name across baseball.

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