Pittsburgh Pirates All Time Lineup

Best at each position, in one season, in team history

A look at the all-time starting lineup for the Pittsburgh Pirates in the team's history. It's not a career record - it's taken from the best season any player had at that position in team history to create a lineup.

Starting pitcher: Doug Drabek

Pittsburgh Pirates v Los Angeles Dodgers
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1990: 22-6, 2.76 ERA, 231.1 IP, 190 Ks, 131 Ks, 1.063 WHIP

Rest of the rotation: John Candelaria (1977, 20-5, 2.34 ERA, 230.2 IP, 197 H, 133 Ks, 1.071 WHIP), Steve Blass (1968, 18-6, 2.12 ERA, 220.1 IP, 191 H, 132 Ks, 1.126 WHIP) , Vern Law (1960, 20-9, 3.08 ERA, 271.2 IP, 266 H, 120 Ks, 1.126 WHIP), Jesse Tannehill (1902, 20-6, 1.95 ERA, 231 IP, 203 H, 100 Ks, 0.987 WHIP)

The Pirates had a lot of great pitchers in the 19th century, but we'll stick with th 20th century and beyond because it was a different game there. There are two Cy Young Award winners in this rotation in the ace, Drabek of 1990, and Vern Law in 1960. Steve Blass was a great pitcher before he lost his control overnight, and we'll finish the rotation with one of the best at the turn of the century in Tannehill, a dead-ball era lefty who won 20 games six times.

Catcher: Jason Kendall

1998: .327, 12 HR, 75 RBI, 26 SB, .884 OPS

Backup: Manny Sanguillen (1975, .328, 9 HR, 58 RBI, .842 OPS)

Kendall, who retired in 2012, was a dynamo early in his career in Pittsburgh, hitting for power and average and stealing bases, too. The backup is a tough call between Sanguillen, Smoky Burgess (1961) and Tony Pena (1983). We'll go with Sanguillen by a hair.

First baseman: Willie Stargell

1979: .281, 32 HR, 82 RBI, .904 OPS

Backup: Dick Stuart (1961, .301, 35 HR, 117 RBI, .925 OPS)

Stargell's best offensive seasons came as an outfielder, but we're loaded there, so we'll go with the late-career surge from Pops, as the Hall of Famer was MVP in the Pirates' championship season of 1979. The backup is Stuart, a powerful presence in 1961.

Second baseman: Bill Mazeroski

1958: .275, 19 HR, 68 RBI, .747 OPS

Backup: George Grantham (1930, .324, 18 HR, 99 RBI, .947 OPS)

We've got a Hall of Famer here as well, even though he wasn't a great offensive star, save for one of the biggest moments in World Series history. Grantham, a .302 lifetime hitter, had better offensive stats, but we'll make him the backup as Mazeroski was the more complete player.

Shortstop: Honus Wagner

1908: .354, 10 HR, 109 RBI, 53 SB, .957 OPS

Backup: Arky Vaughan (1935, .385, 19 HR, 99 RBI, 1.098 OPS)

True, they're both from a different age in baseball, but a 1-2 punch at shortstop better than these two would be difficult to find on any team. Both are Hall of Famers, but we'll go with Wagner because by many measures he's the greatest shortstop of all-time.

Third baseman: Pie Traynor

1930: .366, 9 HR, 119 RBI, .932 OPS

Backup: Bill Madlock (1981, .341, 6 HR, 45 RBI, .907 OPS)

We'll round out this Hall of Fame infield with Traynor, a .320 lifetime hitter. The backup is Madlock, the NL batting champ in the strike-shortened season in 1981.

Left fielder: Ralph Kiner

1949: .310, 54 HR, 127 RBI, 1.089 OPS

Backup: Barry Bonds (1992, .311, 34 HR, 103 RBI, 39 SB, 1.080 OPS)

Bonds might be the all-time home run champ, but statistically in any Pirates season he's behind Kiner, who hit for even better power in his stellar 1949 season, when he led the league in two of the three Triple Crown categories and was fourth in MVP voting. Bonds won his second of his seven career MVP awards in 1992, his final season in Pittsburgh. He's also in the Giants' all-time lineup.

Center fielder: Andrew McCutchen

2012: .327, 31 HR, 96 RBI, 20 SB, .953 OPS

Backup: Brian Giles (1999, .315, 39 HR, 115 RBI, 1.032 OPS)

McCutchen finished third in MVP voting and won a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger in 2012, his fourth season in the big leagues. The backup is Giles, who came over from Cleveland and became one of the majors' best hitters in the late 1990s. He narrowly beats out Lloyd Waner and Andy Van Slyke.

Right fielder: Roberto Clemente

1967: .357, 23 HR, 110 RBI, .954 OPS

Backup: Paul Waner (1927, .380, 9 HR, 131 RBI, .986 OPS)

Clemente won the MVP in the previous season and was third in 1967, but he did win his fourth batting title and, of course, a Gold Glove during an era when pitching dominated. By beaing one of the greatest fielders of all-time, he barely beats out another Hall of Famer for the start in Waner, who was one of the greatest hitters of all-time, batting .333 in his career. He was MVP in 1927 at age 24. And there was another Hall of Famer at this spot in Kiki Cuyler, and an MVP in Dave Parker.

Closer: Rich Gossage

1977: 11-9, 1.62 ERA, 133 IP, 78 H, 151 Ks, 0.955 WHIP

Backup: Roy Face (1959, 18-1, 2.70 ERA, 10 saves, 93.1 IP, 91 H, 69 Ks, 1.243 WHIP)

Gossage played just one year for the Pirates, but it was a great one, before heading to the Yankees. The backup is Face, who played in an era largely before defined closers, but was an incredible 18-1 with 10 saves.

Batting Order

  1. CF Andrew McCutchen
  2. 3B Pie Traynor
  3. SS Honus Wagner
  4. RF Roberto Clemente
  5. LF Ralph Kiner
  6. 1B Willie Stargell
  7. C Jason Kendall
  8. 2B Bill Mazeroski
  9. P Doug Drabek