Pirates All-Time Team v.2012

Today, we're taking a look at the Pirates All-Time team, version 2012.  Last year's inaugural team can be seen here

In addition to our normal review, we had to add an infielder, an outfielder and two starting pitchers to last year's team as part of our roster revamping (we're trying to get all of our teams to look alike).

Despite the long streak of futility (the Pirates haven't finished a season with a winning record since 1992), the Pirates are a proud franchise with a history of winning.  Their roots go back to 1887, and early on, the Pirates were good... really good.  In fact, the Pirates won four National League pennants in the 1900's (1900-1909) and those early teams were chock full of all-time greats.

I'll tell you that it was fairly easy to review the current roster (and last year's picks, for good measure).  It was also fairly painless ironing out the extra infield and outfield spots. 

No one on the current roster has played long enough in a Pirates uniform to make this team.  We looked briefly at Roy Face as an alternatvie at reliever and considered Jason Kendall and Tony Pena at catcher but stuck with Kent Tekulve and Manny Sanguillen at those positions, respectively. 

Arky Vaughan stood out as an easy choice for the extra infielder but Dick Groat was mentioned - his MVP and batting title stood out but Vaughan is a Hall of Famer and an all-time great (who knows what his numbers would have looked like if he had not tweaked out and retired for three years).  In the outfield, we did consider a pre-1920 exception for speedster Max Carey but we all agreed that "Cobra" Dave Parker was a good pick for this team in the outfield.  We also considered Barry Bonds and Al Oliver but given the success that Parker enjoyed with the Pirates in the 70's, it's fair to say that he deserves the nod.

At this point, it's important to note that we do have a pretty strong post-1920 rule in place (with exceptions only granted to All-Time greats like Honus Wagner and Cap Anson).  For that reason, we had to leave some decent players out of the rotation.  Without a pre-1920 rule, you could make an argument for guys like Babe Adams, Wilbur Cooper, Sam Leever and Deacon Phillipe.  We wouldn't argue against those names but the game was so different then and none of us had the benefit of seeing them play firsthand so it's very tough to make a judgment call.  With none of those guys being in the Hall of Fame, it would be hard for us to argue that they belong on this team over the guys that we picked without the benefit of visual evidence. 

What we were left with after subtracting the guys mentioned above is a mix of guys that had moments or seasons of greatness and guys that were pretty good for a reasonably long time to pull from to fill two spots in the rotation... not an easy task.  This team was so difficult to iron out, we enlisted the help of Rob Neyer (@robneyer). 

I asked Rob who he would pick from Steve Blass, Doug DrabekJohn Candelaria, Rip Sewell, Bob Veale, Dock Ellis and Ray Kremer.  Rob immediately shot back with Doug Drabek - wasn't sure on the second name but thankfully we all (sort of) agreed on the Candy Man. 

This was probably one of the toughest teams we've ever tackled.  Blass almost single-handedly bested the 1971 Orioles in the World Series - a rotation considered to be among the greatest of all-time - but his unexplainable futility is the reason the Steve Blass syndrome exists.  Sewell, Kremer and Veale have solid career numbers but weren't really great.  Drabek and Ellis are linked to great Pirate moments and awards (Vern Law and Doug Drabek own the only two Cy's in franchise history and Dock Ellis pitched the LSD no-no) but both were somewhat inconsistent.. again, it was tough but I think we have a good team. 

Take a look and tell us what you think.

C - Manny Sanguillen
1B - Willie Stargell
2B - Bill Mazeroski
SS - Honus Wagner
3B - Pie Traynor
IF - Arky Vaughan
OF - Roberto Clemente
OF - Ralph Kiner
OF - Paul Waner
OF - Dave Parker
SP - Bob Friend
SP - Vern Law
SP - John Candelaria
SP - Doug Drabek
RP - Kent Tekulve


  1. I take Barry Bonds over Parker. I also like Jason Kendall at C. I like Rip Sewell over Drabek.

  2. Vic Willis should be the number one pitcher for this team. True he had more years with the Boston Beaneater/Braves but he had great years in Pittsburgh. Your prejudice against pre-1920 players again hurts your all-time team evaluation. Do your research! This pitching staff sucks! Bonds is a better choice than all your outfield picks especially "given the success Parker enjoyed with the Pirates"! Did you actually compare Bonds and Parker's successes?


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