Pittsburgh Pirates: Three MVPs You May Have Forgotten
While the Pittsburgh Pirates have a handful of MVP’s in their franchise’s history, who are some players who won MVP awards with other teams, but play with the Bucs?
The Pittsburgh Pirates have received eight MVP awards from seven players. The eight include Andrew McCutchen’s 2013 award, Barry Bonds taking it home in 1990 and 1992, Willie Stargell in 1979, Dave Parker a year prior in 1978, Roberto Clemente in 1966, Dick Groat in 1960, and Paul Waner in 1927. In total, an MVP award has been handed out every season since 1911.
But the Pirates have had players in the organization that has won an MVP award, just not with the Bucs. Today, I want to look at three former players who were MVP recipients and played with the Pirates. These three players may have won the significant award, but it wasn’t in black and gold.
Maury Wills was a five-time all-star from 1959 through 1972. Wills played most of his major league career with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the team he won his one and only MVP award with. However, he also spent two seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1967 and 1968.
His MVP campaign was certainly a product of his era. Wills batted .299/.347/.373 with just a 99 OPS+ and 103 wRC+. Others like Willie Mays and Frank Robinson had far better offensive and defensive seasons. While his offense wasn’t terrible, the modern equivalent would be like if Chicago White Sox’s shortstop Tim Anderson took the award home in 2022. But Wills did swipe 104 bases in 117 total attempts.
Wills’s two seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates were pretty similar to what he did in 1962. During his time in black and gold, Wills batted .290/.330/.340 with a 100 wRC+ 98 OPS+. Wills may not have swiped triple-digit bags, but he still stole 81, albeit in 112 total attempts (72.3% success rate). Although Wills had played shortstop for almost his entire career up to this point, the Pirates slid the infielder over to third base as the team had all-star Gene Alley on hand to man shortstop.
After his time in Pittsburgh, Wills would start the 1969 season out with the Montreal Expos before eventually finding his way back to the Dodgers. Wills would go on to play in the 1970-1972 campaigns before retiring. Sadly, Wills recently passed away in late September of this year.