Pittsburgh Pirates: Three More Forgotten Position Changes

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Kevin Young - Third Base to First Base

Kevin Young is one of the longest-tenured first basemen in the Pirates’ history. He’s tied with Willie Stargell and Donn Clendon for the second most Opening Day starts in the team’s history. He’s also the last Pirate first baseman to have 3+ fWAR in a single season. Young spent almost all his career as a first baseman but was originally drafted as a hot corner defender.

Although he only batted .259/.324/.437 with a 95 wRC+, Young was mostly renowned for his defensive work at first base. He ended up as arguably the best defensive first baseman in the franchise’s history. Across 11 seasons in black and gold and 8198.2 innings at first, Young racked up an impressive +35 total zone runs amount.

Young played 116 and 127 games at third base in 1991 and 1992. With Jeff King on hand, who could play third base, Young transitioned over to third base. Granted, that doesn’t mean he never saw a game at third base in the major leagues. He still saw 656.1 innings at the hot corner throughout his career, but he never saw consistent playing time there. The most he played at third base was 383.1 innings in 1995.

Going from third base to first base may be one of the more common position transitions in the sport, but Young did it late into his minor league career when he was starting to get to the big leagues. Young is arguably the best, most recent first baseman the Pirates have had, which says a lot about their ability (or inability) to find a first baseman.