Sports Magazine

Battling Bucs : State By State Bucco History Part IV

By Kipper @pghsportsforum
This is the continuation of my ATP (All Time Pirates) series but I have opted to change the name to make it a little more obvious what is covered in the topic. As a quick recap this is a running series of mine that digs into the Pirates past and takes a look at it from various different angles. This particular exercise is looking at it from the player's place of birth. Each US state, the District of Columbia and each foreign country will be investigated in the attempt to build a team. For more specifics check out the introductory post here.

In part IV I will be covering position players from what I call class C locations. By class C locations I am referring to locations that have between 31 and 50 position players. These locations end up having more than half of their eligible players miss out on the final roster and all have enough to amply fill each roster spot with a qualified candidate. In short we are now starting getting into locations that are or at least were really known for producing quality baseball players.
Dominican Republic

Matty Alou, CF
Tony Pena, C
Starling Marte, LF
Pedro Alvarez, 1B
Aramis Ramirez, 3B
Manny Mota, RF
Frank Taveras, SS
Abraham Nunez, 2B
Ronny Paulino, C
Rafael Belliard, 2B/SS
Nelson Liriano, IF
Jose Bautista, 3B/OF
Gregory Polanco, OF
Jose Guillen, OF
Manny Jimenez, OF
Notes: The top of the lineup features the speedy Matty Alou and Tony Pena who is probably the team’s best player giving the Dominicans a nice 1-2 punch to lead things off. Starling Marte solts in as probably the most balanced player on the team and could be just a year or two away from taking over as the team’s best player. In the middle of the order Alvarez and Ramirez gives the lineup some legitimate thump. Mota in the sixth hole gives the lineup some nice depth and Taveras in the 7th spot is your prototypical strong defensive shortstop who struggles with the bat. Rounding out the lineup there was quite a competition between Nunez and the two bench infielders, Belliard and Liriano. Liriano is the best hitter, Belliard the best defender and Nunez a mix of both and in the end that mix and his longevity prevailed.
On the bench Ronny Paulino is the sole backup catcher though Robinzon Diaz and Angelo Encarnacion are the next in line. As mentioned Belliard and Liriano give the infield a mix of defensive and offensive talent off the bench. Bautista makes the team primarily for his bat as does Jose Guillen in the outfield as both players struggled in the field. Polanco has already achieved the status of 4th outfielder on this team and in a couple years could conceivably take over for Mota in right field. Finally Manny Jimenez has by far the least amount of playing time of anyone who actually made the team but performed exceptionally in his brief stint with the Pirates so he grabs the final bench spot.
Other than the catchers I have mentioned other notable names left off the team include Freddy Garcia, Enrique Wilson, Denny Gonzalez and Felix Ferman. Those players were all in contention for one of the final roster spots but ultimately lost out as their performance while in line with the others came in a shorter time period than those they were competing against.
Pie Traynor, 3B
Johnny Barrett, CF
Elbie Fletcher, 1B
Richie Hebner, LF
Jake McCarthy, RF
Rabbit Maranville, 2B
Art Whitney, SS
Connie Mack, C
Eddie Phillips, C
Bill Merritt, C/U
Kitty Bransfield, 1B
Alex McKinnon, 1B
Mark Johnson, 1B/OF
Art Butler, IF
Bob Ganley, OF
Notes: Starting the lineup off with a Hall of Famer like Pie Traynor can only be a good thing. Traynor sits atop the lineup thanks to his base stealing ability and general ability to reach base. Batting 2nd is Barrett who while he isn’t one of the best players on this team is still a very solid regular with some plus speed and decent offensive ability so he’ll help set the table for the middle of the order. In the middle of the order we have Fletcher who is probably the best pure hitter on the team and Richie Hebner another good hitter who you may notice is playing off his usual position. Hebner by trade is a 3B but Traynor kind of has that spot locked down so Hebner who does have a bit of experience in the outfield shifts there to get his bat in the lineup. McCarthy in the fifth spot is another solid regular who gives the lineup a little bit of depth. Rounding out the lineup Maranville, Whitney and Mack are all strong defensive players who leave a bit to be desired with their sticks.
On the bench you may notice a plethora of 1B and that is because there were so many quality ones to choose from multiple ones needed to be kept. Kity Bransfield would have been the starting 1B for many of the teams we have seen in the past but Flethcer is clearly a superior choice so the right handed Bransfield will take the role of spelling Fletcher against some tough lefties. Alex McKinnon has the shortest amount of time spent with the Pirates of everyone on the Massachusetts team but absolutely mashed while with the team so he forced his way on to the roster as the primary pinch hitter. Mark Johnson was primarily a 1B with the Pirates but had some minimal time in the OF so he’ll mostly work there as a reserve. Phillips and Meritt aren’t anything special as far as backup catchers go but Merritt showed the ability to play all over the diamond so in addition to being the third catcher the team will make use of his versatility with so many 1B on the roster. Butler and Ganley will serve as the primary backups for all the non catcher and 1st base positions and both are solid players who lost out on starting jobs mainly due to the relatively short length of their Pirate careers.
Notable names left off the team include Stuffy McInnis, another 1B, like Alex McKinnon who hit very well in a brief time with the Pirates and catcher Hank Camelli who if it wasn’t for Merritt’s versatility likely would have made the team as the third catcher. Joe Kelley, OF, and Eddie Pellagrini, IF, are the two players likely forced off the roster thanks to the team opting to carry three first basemen on the bench.One final player of note left off the team is Duke Farrell who while he was decent never had much of chance at making it as a 3B with Traynor and Hebner already on the roster.
Jake Beckley, 1B
George Van Haltren, CF
Jimmy Williams, 2B
Donn Clendenon, LF
Joe Garagiola, C
Casey Stengel, RF
Glenn Wright, SS
Bobby Byrne, 3B
Heinie Peitz, C
Dale Long, 1B
Charlie Grimm, 1B
Jimmy Burke, IF
Doug Baird, 2B/3B
Vin Campbell, OF
Dino Restelli, OF
Notes: A first baseman leading off is a bit weird by today’s standards but Beckley is from a different time and was a real threat on the bases with a team 138 steals while with the Pirates. Van Haltrean is another player from the early days of baseball but he is another very solid player who posts a very high OBP meaning he is always on base for the middle of the order. In the third spot is Jimmy Williams who is a bit like Kiki Cuyler (though he was with the Pirates for considerably less time) in that he is a severely underrated player in Pirates franchise history and he is probably the best hitter on this team whereas Beckley is probably the best player. Williams is technically playing out of position here as he never played second base for the Pirates but this team had two solid 3B and no 2B and Williams was a second basemen basically for his entire career except for his time with the Pirates so I’m going to let this one slide. Clendenon in the clean up spot gives the lineup some solid power though he too is kind of playing out of position as he was primarily a 1B who just player occasionally in the outfield but Beckley forced him out into the pasture on a full time basis. The top half of the lineup is very good but what really makes the lineup shine is the bottom half as Garagiola, Stengel, Wright and Byrne are all average regulars or better. Of all the lineups seen so far this is clearly the deepest though they are lacking a bit in superstar talent.
The depth of this team continues on to the bench with Long, Grimm, Burke, Campbell and Restelli all being around league average hitters in their time with the Pirates. The other two bench players Peitz and Baird are not quite as solid of hitters but they aren’t black holes either. The depth of the talent continues to the players who missed the cut as well as Bill Abstein and Pete Reiser are two of the better players to have missed rosters and Preston Ward with nearly 1,000 plate appearances has by far the most time spent with the Pirates of anyone who failed to make their roster so far.
Lee Lacy, 2B
Fred Nicholson, LF
Johnny Rizzo, CF
Chief Wilson, RF
Debs Garms, 3B
Glenn Wilson, 1B
Chris Snyder, C
Freddie Patek, SS
Chris Tremie, C
Dee Fondy, 1B
Ed Stevens, 1B
Curt Roberts, 2B
Brandon Wood, 3B/SS
Zeb Terry, SS
Steve Kemp, OF
Notes: Texas is blessed with many gifted outfielders but are a little weak on the infield so some players are playing away from their usual positions. Lee Lacy is one of them as he was primarily an outfielder but did spend a few games at 2B so he moves there. Lacy is probably the best player on the team and should do a good job setting the table. In the 2 hole, Nicholson put up some impressive numbers while with the Pirates but they came over a very small period of time but still he is a solid bat in the 2 hole. The middle of the lineup features Rizzo and Wilson who are both solid hitters with a little bit of power. Garms and Glenn Wilson (who is the other OF playing IF) are another pair of solid hitters that give the lineup some depth through the sixth spot. Wilson has some experience at 1B so I’m thinking he should be able to handle the position. At the bottom of the order Snyder and Patek leave something to be desired but both are at least solid defenders at positions that require good defense.
With 16 PA, Tremie has by far the least amount of plate appearances for anyone who has made a Class C team but he finds his way on to the bench because he is the only other catcher Texas has other than Snyder. In the infield Terry, Roberts and Wood are all weak with the bat but Terry does at least possess a strong glove at the shortstop position. Roberts is a solid defender at 2B and will be asked to step in for Lacy if he proves unable to handle the position defensively. In the outfield Steve Kemp is a decent 4th outfielder and should be able to give the starters a spell on occasion. Fondy made the team thanks to his solid bat while Stevens was included mostly because he was a respectable hitter who had significant playing time with the Pirates. The most notable player left off the team is probably Brock Holt who missed mainly due to his lack of playing time.

Power Rankings
4. Texas
Let me start by saying there is nothing wrong with the Texas team. It is a very nice team and has no really glaring weaknesses like the bottom teams in past classes did but we have simply reached a point where that isn’t good enough. Just for reference I have a fairly simple formula for comparing the team’s lineups that I use to get a baseline for my rankings (it is not responsible for the actual rankings it just gives me a starting point) and there are only 3 teams in the other two classes combined who compare similarly to this Texas team. Bottom line this is a solid team and the fact it ranks last is more due to the competition than the team itself.
What puts the Texas team in last in this ranking is that it doesn’t quite have the depth of the other three and the high end talent is lacking. The team rolls out 6 average or better bats in the lineup with the other two being respectable hitters who play solid defense but none of them are really outstanding players and the bench behind them is really lacking for impact.
3. Dominican Republic
I really like the Dominican Republic team. The outfield is really good and Tony Pena is of course a stud behind the plate. There are even a few nice looking bats on the bench giving the team some solid depth but what hurts them compared to the top two teams is the infield. The infield is decent but that just isn’t enough in this class. The Aramis Ramirez the Pirates had wasn’t the one the Cubs had and Pedro Alvarez of course is a butcher at 1B and nothing really special with the bat making the corners weak. In the middle Taveras is a gifted shortstop but doesn’t give much on offense and Abraham Nunez really isn’t a good starting 2B.
Overall this is another very good team that just doesn’t quite match up to the competition. This is clearly the best of the foreign country teams and depending on its pitching staff should do fairly well in the final rankings. Being ranked 3rd in this class isn’t a bad thing as all these lineups are very good and aren’t separated by all that much.
2. Massachusetts
Starting out with the Hall of Famer, Pie Traynor is always going to give a team a big boost and when you add above average players like Elbie Feltcher and Richie Hebner to the mix it just gets even better. Add in two more average regulars in McCarthy and Barrett and you have a lineup that has some solid fire power 1 through 5. Following them Maranville and Whitney aren’t far from being average hitters and form a great defensive pairing up the middle. The catcher spot is admittedly weak with Connie Mack but with the other 7 the lineup can easily absorb it.
Being honest I would probably put the Massachusetts lineup behind that of the Dominican Republic by a hair but these comparisons aren’t just about the lineup and the Massachusetts bench is a much more solid commodity as every player with the exception of the backup catchers is roughly a league average hitter or better. The team’s star power gets it into contention with the Dominican Republic but its solid depth is what gives it the slim edge.
1. Missouri
When it came to deciding upon classes Missouri was kind of in no man’s land with more players than the three teams it is classed with here but fewer players than the teams in the class above. With 47 eligible players, Missouri has 10 more players to choose from than the Dominicans who have the second largest pool in the class but they also have 16 less than the team with the least amount of players in the class above here so ultimately they got sorted here.
The team is lacking a real superstar but the lineup just has unbelievable depth as everyone 1 through 8 is an average hitter or better and 7 of the 8 players appear to be solid to great defenders. On the bench the depth continues as 5 of the 7 players are roughly league average hitters or better. Overall there isn’t much separating Missouri from the rest of the class but the depth of the team is just a little too much for the rest to keep up with.

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