Sports Magazine

Battling Bucs : State By State Bucco History Part XI

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 XI I will continue looking at the Pirates pitchers by place of birth and this focus on class B locations. Class B locations consist of places that have 31 to 60 players eligible for the pitching staff. This is a bigger range than I would like but it proved to be impossible to find a cut off that was completely to my satisfaction. Anyway these pools are large enough where more than half of the eligible players will be cut from the staffs.
Dominican Republic

Rotation and Relief Ace
#1: Francisco Liriano
#2: Jose DeLeon
#3: Edinson Volquez
#4: Wandy Rodriguez
RA: Salomon Torres
SP: Pascual Perez
RP: Diomedes Olivo
RP: Cecilio Guante
RP: Damaso Marte
RP: Josias Manzanillo
RP: Jose Mesa
RP: Julian Tavarez
RP: Antonio Bastardo
Notes: The rotation likely requires very little introduction as it features 1 current Pirates and 2 pitchers who were Pirates not all that long ago. Liriano has been a very good starter for the Pirates for the past three years and easily claims the ace spot for this staff. Jose DeLeon pitched for the Pirates for four seasons back in the mid 1980s and put up back of the rotation numbers but he’s the only non-Liriano starter with 200+ IP. Volquez pitched for the Pirates in 2014 and had a very nice year and Rodriguez spent parts of 2012-2014 with the Pirates being an average pitcher until injuries derailed him.Torres with 21 starts actually has the most of any pitcher not in the rotation but he spent the majority of his career with the Pirates as a rubber armed reliever who racked up a lot of innings and posted very good numbers. As a side note he was actually part of Neal Huntington’s first trade with the Pirates.
The reserves are lacking for starting pitching as Perez is the only one to have started more than 1 game and he didn’t even crack 100 innings with the Pirates. The rest of the reserves though could make for one incredible bullpen as all 7 were very good relief pitchers. Olivo, Guante and Marte are the best of the bunch and provided heavy competition for Torres but it just wasn’t quite enough.As evidenced by Arquimedes Caminero and Jose Veras, who didn’t make the team, the bullpen depth runs insanely deep.
Rotation and Relief Ace
#1: Lefty Leifield
#2: Rick Reuschel
#3: Fritz Ostermueller
#4: Earl Hamilton
RA: Bob Johnson
SP: J.A. Happ
SP: Harry Staley
SP: Tom Gorzelanny
SP: Emil Yde
SP: Homer Hillebrand
SP: Hal Carlson
SP/RP: Boom-Boom Beck
SP/RP: Bob Kipper
Notes: Leifield pitched for the Pirates for 8 years in the early 1900s, racking up over 1500 innings while being an above average starter. Reuschel is the most modern pitcher in the rotation having pitched 3 seasons for the Pirates in the mid 1980s. He is more known for his time with the Cubs but in his short stay with the Pirates he posted excellent numbers and his first season may have been the best of his career. Ostermueller had a long 15 year career in the major leagues in the 1930s and 1940s and pitched his final 5 years with the Pirates. He occasionally flashed potential for more but Ostermueller was always a dependable starter you could put in the middle of your rotation with no worries. Hamilton pitched for the Pirates from 1918-1923 racking up 900+ innings and being a solid middle of the rotation arm. The relief options for Illinois are a bit weak and Johnson gets the job almost by default as he was an average reliever for the Pirates from 1971-1973.
The reserves are conversely to the Dominican squad filled with starting pitchers. Happ is probably the first name recognized as he just pitched for the Pirates the second half of this past season. Staley and Yde are solid starters who racked up 600+ innings for the Pirates but just missed out on a rotation spot. Grozelanny probably rings a bell with most and though he wasn’t the greatest he was useful while with the Pirates.
New York
Rotation and Relief Ace
#1: John Candelaria
#2: Ed Morris
#3: Bill Swift
#4: Waite Hoyt
RA: Roy Face
SP: John Tudor
SP: Ken Brett
SP: Chick Robitaille
SP: Elmer Steele
SP: George McQuillan
SP/RP: Neal Heaton
SP/RP: Glenn Spencer
RP: Dave Giusti
Notes: Candalaria was a top of the rotation pitcher for 11 seasons in the 1970s and 1980s. He was arguably the team’s best starting pitcher during their 1979 World Series year is one of the best Pirates pitchers of the modern era. Morris played for Pittsburgh in the 1800s and is considered the first great left handed pitcher in baseball history. Swift pitched for the Pirates for 8 years during the 1930s and with the exception of his career year in 1935 was basically just an average arm capable of racking up innings. At the back of the rotation Hoyte is a hall of fame pitcher but that’s primarily for his days with the Yankees. With the Pirates he was more frequently a reliever than a starter but he did make 43 starts during his time with the club so it’s a role he’s familiar with. Hoyt pitched for the Pirates past his prime but was still a very effective pitcher. Roy Face requires little introduction as he is one of the best relief pitcher in Pirates history and was a dominating force for 15 years coming almost exclusively out of the bullpen.
Giusti more or less took over for Face (there was a year between) and honestly the Pirates barely missed a beat but Face’s crazy longevity is way too much for Giusti to overcome. Overall the New York staff is very deep as Heaton and Spencer add some good bullpen depth and Tudor, Brett, Robitaille, Steele and McQuillan are all very serviceable starters.
Rotation and Relief Ace
#1: Sam Leever
#2: Harvey Haddix
#3: Charlie Case
#4: Ralph Birkofer
RA: Kent Tekulve
SP: Jim Handiboe
SP: Charlie Hastings
SP/RP: Jack Hallett
SP/RP: Dutch Dietz
RP: Rick White
RP: Marc Wilkins
RP: Grant Jackson
RP: Scott Sauerbeck
Notes: Leever pitched for Pittsburgh for 13 seasons from 1898-1910 and ranks in the top 5 in Pirates history in starts, innings pitched and wins. By his sheer longevity it is easy to see that Leever was a very effective pitcher and ranks up there with the other great arms in franchise history. Haddix is famous for throwing 12 perfect innings in a game before ultimately getting hung with the hard luck loss. Aside from this masterful performance Haddix was more or less just an average middle of the rotation arm. Case and Birkofer are more of the same though they applied their middle of the rotation skills over a much shorter period of time than did Haddix. Thanks to his presence on Pirates postgame shows Tekulve probably requires very little introduction. If you aren’t of the belief Roy Face is the greatest relief pitcher in Pirates history, then you probably believe Tekulve is as the two of them clearly have a leg up on the field.
Due to the presence of Tekulve other relief pitchers never really had a chance but there are some quality ones amongst the reserves. Scott Sauerbeck in particular was a truly good reliever for some poor Pirates teams back in the early 2000s. The starting depth isn’t nearly as plentiful as the relief pitcher depth but Handibobe and Hastings does give the staff a pair of steady back of the rotation types should the need arise.
Rotation and Relief Ace
#1: Doug Drabek
#2: Kip Wells
#3: Zach Duke
#4: Luke Walker
RA: Michael Gonzalez
SP: Danny Darwin
SP: Danny Jackson
SP: Ross Ohlendorf
SP: Lee Tunnell
SP/RP: Brad Lincoln
SP/RP: Bill Harris
RP: Daniel McCutchen
RP: Chuck Hartenstein
Notes: Drabek was the staff ace for the early 1990s Pirates teams and was consistently a top of the rotation option so he gets the staff ace nod here rather easily. Wells and Duke pitched for the Pirates during probably the darkest time of the streak from 2002-2010 (they only overlapped in 2005). Some of those teams were really bad and while these two pitchers were respectable back end options they were unfortunately among the best the Pirates had. Walker pitched 8 seasons for the Pirates in the 1960s and 1970s and split his time fairly evenly between starting and relieving but he racked up 700+ innings of average work which is enough to earn him the last spot in the rotation. Gonzalez pitched for the Pirates from 2003-2006 and was an awesome reliever during that stretch. He was one of the few bright spots the team actually had and was good enough to be dealt for a starting first baseman (Adam LaRoche).
Aside from Danny Darwin, who started the 1996 season with the Pirates and made 19 solid starts before being dealt to Houston, the starting pitcher depth here is really lacking. Tunnell and Ohlendorf are guys who are barely worth a fifth starter job and Jackson is very light on innings. Bill Harris is a solid second relief pitcher, but besides him the rest of the reserve relievers struggled during their tenures with the Pirates.
Power Rankings

5. Texas
Kip Wells and Zach Duke weren’t horrible pitchers for the Pirates but its certainly not good for Texas that both find their way into their rotation. Drabek is a fine ace and doesn’t really hurt Texas but there is just no rotation depth behind him and even though Gonzalez was an awesome relief pitcher he is going up against some of the best in franchise history and just doesn’t stack up. The depth of the Texas squad is also lacking as their group of reserves doesn’t compare favorably with the rest of the class but it’s the weak rotation that ultimately doomed this group.
4. Dominican Republic
Honestly, it wasn’t a fair fight for Texas and the Dominican Republic as they have a much smaller player pool to pick from than the rest but they were also too big for the previous class. The middle of their rotation, De Leon and Volquez is just enough to inch the Dominicans past the Texans even though they have a weaker ace and no starting pitcher depth beyond their top 4. As I stated the rotation is slightly better than Texas but compared to the rest of the class it is still rather weak so fourth place is all the higher this staff was able to manage.
3. Ohio
Sam Leever is great a top the rotation and Kent Tekulve is awesome at the back end but the rotation behind Leever is filled with middle of the rotation types none who really look like a high end number two option. The staff is solid and easily better than what the Dominicans and Texans are able to assemble but it isn’t quite enough for the Ohio squad to make it into the top 2.
2. Illinois
Lefty Leifield is one of the weaker aces in this class but Rick Reuschel is a very strong number two making and together they form a nice 1-2 punch a top the rotation. The three and four spots feature a couple of quality arms who really deepen the rotation but the relief ace might be the weakest in the class. Overall the starting 5 for Illinois may not be better than Ohio’s but Illinois has some quality starting pitcher depth to go with it and that’s just enough to vault them into second place.
1. New York
At the end of the day it was really no contest as New York won the top spot in this class fairly easily. With a top of the rotation of Candelaria and Morris followed by a solid pitcher in Swift in the third spot and a half of famer in Hoyt in the fourth spot it was always going to be tough for anyone to topple them. Add in an all time great reliever like Roy Face and some impressive depth in the form of McQuillan, Brett, Tudor and Giusti and there was really no contest here.

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