Fred Clarke (1945)
Fred Clarke is if Max Carey was a better hitter but slightly less aggressive on the basepaths. Clarke was acquired by the Pirates via trade from the Louisville Colonels via a trade that involved 16 different players. Four of the players involved are now in the Hall of Fame. One of them will reappear in this list later. Clarke would become a staple in the Pirates’ outfield from 1900 through 1911, then transition to a player-coach role in 1913 through 1915.
As a batter, Clarke hit .312/.386/.429 with an OPS+ of 133, making him 33% better than the league average batter. Clarke played in 21 different MLB seasons, albeit only 19 of them were as a regular player and not as a player-coach. Playing for so long, plus hitting over .300, helped him collect 2665 total hits.
While Clarke never led the league in stolen bases, he was a threat to run at all times. He took an extra 509 bases, placing him just inside the 500 stolen base club. He just edges out Paul Molitor and Luis Aparicio and is tied with Ichiro for the 35th most of all time. From the stats we have, Clarke was a good defensive outfielder with a +2.30 range factor per game compared to the average of +2.07.
A couple of things sell me on Clarke over Stargell. First is the defense. Then there’s the base running. Finally, there’s the hit total. Because of that, I put Clarke just ahead of Stargell in today’s rankings. Clarke made it to Cooperstown through the Old Timers committee in 1945.