Pittsburgh Pirates: Forgotten Opening Day Starters
Hank Greenberg was the other one-and-done Hall Of Fame Opening Day starter for the Pirates. Greenberg is one of the best hitters in the Detroit Tigers’ history, taking home four home run titles, two MVP awards, and two World Series rings. However, Greenberg spent his final year in the Major Leagues with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
In his age-36 season, Greenberg took up first base for the Bucs. Despite his advancing age, he was still highly productive that year, batting .249/.408/.478 with 25 homers in 510 plate appearances. Greenberg led the league in walks with 104 and produced a 20.4% walk rate, a career best rate for Greenberg. He also only struck out 73 times for a mere 14.3% K%. Overall, after adjusting for the era and park factors, Greenberg ended his final season with a 132 OPS+ and 135 wRC+.
This was his third season after returning from service in the early-1940s. He spent the ‘42-’44 seasons in the army air force, but despite missing three years, he picked up right where he left off. Between ‘45-’47, Greenberg batted .275/.392/.548 with a 152 wRC+/OPS+. In his one and only Pirates Opening Day start, he went 1-for-4 with a double.
Although Greenberg’s mostly known for his time with the Detroit Tigers, his one season in Pittsburgh was very good. But despite turning in a strong final campaign, the Pirates only went 62-92 that year. The Pirates were a fairly solid hitting team, ranking top five in the league in OPS and runs scored, however their pitchers registered just a 91 ERA+ (9% worse than average).