Pittsburgh Pirates: Constructing the Franchise’s All-Offense Line Up

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PITTSBURGH – 1913. Honus Wagner takes some practice swings before a game in Forbes Field in 1913 in this photo by the Paul Thompson Agency. (Photo by Mark Rucker/Transcendental Graphics, Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH – 1913. Honus Wagner takes some practice swings before a game in Forbes Field in 1913 in this photo by the Paul Thompson Agency. (Photo by Mark Rucker/Transcendental Graphics, Getty Images) /

Shortstop Honus Wagner

Honus Wagner is not just the shortstop in the history of the Pittsburgh Pirates, but he’s probably their greatest player of all time. There is also a strong argument to be made that Wagner is the best shortstop in baseball history. Wagner spent 18 years of his 21 year career with the Pittsburgh Pirates In those 18 years, Wagner hit .328/.391/.467 with a 151 OPS+ and wRC+.

Wagner won eight batting titles with the Pirates, including four straight from 1906 to 1909. In those four seasons where Wagner led the league in batting average, he was hitting .346/.415/.502 with a 185 OPS+ and 178 wRC+. The equivalent of a 178 wRC+ today would be somewhere between 2019 Christian Yelich and 2019 Mike Trout. While nobody was hitting home runs back in these days, Wagner still finished with a slugging percentage above .500 eight different times, mainly because he was a doubles machine. From 1900 to 1910, Wagner averaged about 40 doubles a season.

Wagner was also a speed demon. He stole 639 bases with the Pirates, including leading the league five different times. Only Max Carey has more stolen bases in Pirates’ history. All told, Wagner’s wRC+ is third in team history, sitting behind Brian Giles and Ralph Kiner. His .411 wOBA ranks 5th behind the aforementioned Kiner and Giles, but also Elmer Smith and Grantham.