First Base – Willie Stargell
Here’s a fun fact. No Pittsburgh Pirate who played first base as their primary position throughout their time with the team won an award. There have been some All-Star Game nods, but no Silver Sluggers, Gold Gloves, anything. The closest that we got? One MVP award from Willie Stargell in 1979. Now I consider Stargell more of a left fielder than first baseman as he played just over 60% of his career in left. But when you have no other options to put, you have to make some exceptions. Plus, Stargell won it as a first baseman, so while I’m bending my own rules, I’m not breaking them completley.
Stargell, simply put, is one of the greatest Pittsburgh Pirates of all time. Throughout his long, 21-year career, Pops Stargell hit .282/.360/.529 with a .387 wOBA, and 145 wRC+. He also blasted an impressive 475 home runs, which ties him with St. Louis Cardinals’ legend Stan Musial for the 32nd most of all-time.
Among all-time Pirates with at least 1500 PA’s, Stargell’s 145 wRC+ ties him with Barry Bonds for the 4th highest franchise mark. He also ranks 11th in wOBA, 8th in OPS, and 4th in slugging percentage, 3rd in isolated slugging, and has the most franchise home runs by a large margin. The only player who comes close to Stargell in long balls is Ralph Kiner, with just 301. Overall, his career 62.9 fWAR ranks 5th among all Pirates, ever.
Stargell’s one MVP season, which earned him the spot on this team, was kind of a down year for his standard. He still put up a high-quality .281/.352/.552 line with a .385 wOBA, and 137 wRC+. Plus he slugged 32 home runs. He wasn’t a very good defender at first, which led to an fWAR of just 2.7. But that seems pretty meh for a guy who consistently had a 150-160 wRC+ from the mid-’60s through the mid-70s.
Despite Stargell mainly being a left fielder for most of his career, he won his one and only MVP award as primarily a first baseman. Given that no other first baseman won anything of the sort, Pops didn’t have much competition at the position.