Pittsburgh Pirates Run Scored: A Milestone Number

When Andrew McCutchen homered last Sunday in the top of the fifth inning against the Brewers, it scored James McDonald, with what turned out to be the 88,888th run in franchise history. Just five other teams have reached that mark, led by the Cubs franchise, which began six years prior to the start of the Pirates back on May 2,1882, then known as the Pittsburgh Alleghenys. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how the Pirates got to that number over the years.

They got off to a good start, scoring ten runs in their first game ever. On June 6,1894 they made the biggest one game dent in that total, crossing the plate 27 times. On June 22, 1925, the eventual World Series champs would score 24 runs against the St Louis Cardinals.

A total of 1341 players have scored runs for the Pirates, although that leaves 484 players in team history, who never contributed to the run total. Among those players, three relievers played in over 300 games without scoring a run as they tried to keep them off the board. Led by John Grabow with 390 games, Mike Williams and Scott Sauerbeck also eclipsed the 300 mark.

Five guys named Smith, four each named Miller and Johnson, three named Thompson, Jones and even another three named Sullivan never scored a run. Tony Armas and his son both have zeros next to their name in the run column and one player, Dazzy Vance, actually went on to a Hall of Fame career. Enough with the guys who didn’t contribute, now to the guys who did, starting at the top.

The Pirates top ten in runs scored has nine Hall of Famers and a guy who played 14 seasons in Pittsburgh:

1. Honus Wagner, 1521
2. Paul Waner, 1493
3. Roberto Clemente, 1416
4. Max Carey, 1414
5. Willie Stargell, 1195
6. Pie Traynor, 1183
7. Lloyd Waner, 1151
8. Fred Clarke, 1015
9. Tommy Leach, 1009
10. Arky Vaughan, 936

At the time of the team’s 88,888th run, these guys contributed to just over 7% of the runs scored. The highest single season totals add some new names to the equation.

1. Jake Stenzel(1894) 150
2. Patsy Donovan(1894) 147
3. Kiki Cuyler(1925) 144
4. Paul Waner(1928) 142
5. Max Carey(1922) 140
6. Ginger Beaumont(1903) 137
7. Lloyd Waner(1929) 134
8. Lloyd Waner(1927) 133
9. Paul Waner(1929) 131
10. George Van Haltren(1893) 129

The players who have driven in the most runs in franchise history include eight Hall of Famers and a player that deserved more HOF consideration.

1. Willie Stargell, 1540
2. Honus Wagner, 1475
3. Roberto Clemente, 1305
4. Pie Traynor, 1273
5. Paul Waner, 1177
6. Bill Mazeroski, 853
7. Ralph Kiner, 801
8. Gus Suhr, 789
9. Arky Vaughan, 764
10. Dave Parker, 758

The individual teams that scored the most runs are nearly void of playoff teams and the list hasn’t changed since 1930.

1. 1893, 970
2. 1894, 965
3. 1925, 912
4. 1929, 904
5. 1930, 894
6. 1922, 865
7. 1899, 841
8. 1928, 837
9. 1927, 817
10. 1895, 815

The five worst teams, with per game averages listed instead of season totals due to differences in schedule lengths.

1. 1917, 2.96
2. 1916, 3.08
3. 1914, 3.18
4. 2012, 3.21
5. 1952, 3.32

Some other notables include the fact Jake Stenzel scored 425 times in just 439 games with the Pirates, while the other 2/3 of his outfield partners, also put up impressive per game totals. Patsy Donovan had 842 runs in 982 games, while Elmer “Mike” Smith, scored 644 times in 766 games. George Van Haltren, who has the tenth highest single season total, only played 137 games for the Pirates and he scored 139 times, the highest game total with more runs than games in team history. For more modern players, Brian Giles scored 501 runs in 715 games and Ralph Kiner had 754 in 1095 games.

Catcher George Gibson, who was a great defensive player for the 1909 Pirates, really held down the per game average offensively as well, scoring 294 runs in 1174 games. You have to go all the way up to Gene Alley with 442 runs in 1195 games to find the next lowest total in as many games, and no one between those two players even reached 1000 games. When you start going through the lowest per game averages for any player with significant playing time, you see a lot of catchers…and then Dale Berra with 744 games played and 215 runs scored. The ultimate low man on the runs scored pole is a familiar name in futility. Mario Mendoza played 324 games with the Pirates and scored 34 runs.

Thanks to frequent reader John Lease for the heads up on the Pirates reaching that mark. A mark which is the ultimate tribute to the man who wore number 8 and drove in more runs than anyone in team history.

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About John Dreker

John was born in Kearny, NJ, hometown of the 2B for the Pirates 1909 World Championship team, Dots Miller. In fact they have some of the same relatives in common, so it was only natural for him to become a lifelong Pirates fan. Before joining Pirates Prospects in July 2010, John had written numerous articles on the history of baseball while also releasing his own book and co-authoring another on the history of the game. He writes a weekly article on Pirates history for the site, has already interviewed many of the current minor leaguers with many more on the way and follows the foreign minor league teams very closely for the site. John also provides in person game reports of the West Virginia Power and Altoona Curve.
  • http://twitter.com/jlease717 John Lease

    A labor of love! Thanks for writing this John. That mid 1890′s Pirate outfield really does stack up with any of them. It’s fitting that the 1894 team has the record for most runs in a game. Next up, 1 million!

    • JohnDreker

      I think I may mention 100,000 first :)

      Don’t know if people remember this, but they had the story of Bob Watson and Dave Concepcion racing around the bases to score baseball’s 1,000,000th run only to find out many years later that not only were those numbers not accurate, it only included NL and AL stats, not any of the other five major leagues

      • http://twitter.com/jlease717 John Lease

        I do remember that. Milt May hit the homer I believe that scored Watson. I think baseball gave all the guys who played in that game a nice watch or something like that. Had to have been the mid 70′s.

  • NorCalBuc

    HOW did Gene Alley, batting second in front of…..Roberto Clemente, manage to score so few runs??!

  • JohnDreker

    .310 OBP and only 55 homers. He also had his most AB’s batting 8th in his career, followed by 2nd in the order, but he also batted 7th over 1000 times