First Base Elbie Fletcher
Elbie Fletcher was the Pittsburgh Pirates’ first baseman during the 1940s. Fletcher’s best years were between 1940 to 1943. In these four years, Fletcher hit .283/.413/.420 with a 136 OPS+ and 140 wRC+. While he wasn’t any sort of power hitter with just a .137 isolated slugging percentage and 43 home runs across 4 seasons, Fletcher did lead the league in on base percentage three of those four years. He and Stan Musial had almost identical on-base percentages, with Musial sitting at .415 and Fletcher at .413.
Fletcher likely would have continued to be an on base threat after 1943, but had to serve in the United States Navy in 1945 and 1946 at the tail end of World War II. Fletcher did return in 1947 to hit for a solid .256/.384/.355 line and 108 OPS+/112 wRC+ in 651 plate appearances, showing he still had outstanding plate discipline. While Fletcher only played 69 games in 1948, he returned for one final season in 1949, and again, hit quite well putting up a .262/.396/.402 line and a 119 OPS+ and 124 wRC+ through 518 plate appearances.
All told, Fletcher batted .279/.403/.412 with 60 home runs, and a 132 wRC+ through his 3821 plate appearance tenure as a Pittsburgh Pirate. His wRC+ leads all Pirates’ first basemen with at least 500 games played with the Pirates. Among Pirates with at least 2500 plate appearances with the team, his OBP ranks 7th all time, just ahead of Honus Wagner (.394), and just behind Ralph Kiner (.405).