Pittsburgh Pirates: Clutchest Seasons in Franchise History

PITTSBURGH, PA - JULY 11: Andrew McCutchen #22 of the Pittsburgh Pirates reacts after hitting the game-winning two run home run in the 14th inning against the St Louis Cardinals during the game at PNC Park on July 11, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - JULY 11: Andrew McCutchen #22 of the Pittsburgh Pirates reacts after hitting the game-winning two run home run in the 14th inning against the St Louis Cardinals during the game at PNC Park on July 11, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images) /
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PITTSBURGH, PA – CIRCA 1978: Phil Garner #3 of the Pittsburgh Pirates bats during an Major League Baseball game circa 1978 at Three River Stadium in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Garner played for the Pirates from 1977-81. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA – CIRCA 1978: Phil Garner #3 of the Pittsburgh Pirates bats during an Major League Baseball game circa 1978 at Three River Stadium in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Garner played for the Pirates from 1977-81. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) /

Phil Garner, 1978

Phil Garner was one of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ infielders in the late 70s and early 80s. He was a light hitting batter, registering a .267/.335/.404 line, and 100 OPS+, but was mainly known for his defense and speed. Across the four and a quarter years he played with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Garner had +4 dWAR and 112 stolen bases.

In 1978, Garner served as a second baseman and third baseman, nearly perfectly splitting the amount of playing time at the two positions (676 innings at second base, 678 innings at third base). Despite being a fairly light hitter, he still posted an above league average .261/.345/.400 line, 10 home runs, 27 stolen bases and 105 wRC+.

What Garner did well was come through when it mattered. He actually ties with Bonds for the 4th highest single season clutch index mark in Pirates history at 1.49. This is because he was outstanding in high leverage situations. Though he only had 157 plate appearances with runners in scoring position, and collected just 28 hits, he only struck out in 13 of those appearances for a 8.2% strikeout rate. In high leverage situations, Garner batted .313/.408/.521, struck out just eight times in 122 plate appearances, and 11 of his 30 hits went for extra bases.

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