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Pittsburgh Pirates All-Time Strikeout Leaders

Updated on July 20, 2009

Bob Friend

Bob Veale

John Candelaria

The Pittsburgh Pirates are a very old and distinguished franchise, beginning play in the 19th century and having somewhat of a winning tradition for decades. But things have changed, as the Pirates have not had a winning record in almost twenty years as I write this in 2009. Still, they have fielded some amazing players over the years, including the likes of Roberto Clemente and Willie Stargell. But the Pirates have also had some incredible pitchers in their history, and what follows is a list of their all-time Top 10 in strikeouts:

Bob Friend (1682)—Bob Friend pitched most of his career in Pittsburgh, from 1951 to 1965, and he ranks first in the team’s history with 1682 strikeouts. Friend never struck out 200 batters in a season, but broke 100 nine times. He won 22 games in 1958, but Friend’s best overall season was probably 1960, when the Pirates won the World Series. That year, he went 18-12 with a 3.00 ERA and career high 183 strikeouts.

Bob Veale (1652)—Bob Veale pitched for the Pirates most of his career, from 1962 to 1972, and he ranks second in franchise history with 1652 strikeouts. Veale also had a penchant for walking batters, but his K’s balanced them out. Veale’s best season was arguably 1965, when he went 17-12 with a 2.84 earned run average and career best 276 strikeouts. However, Veale also led the league that year with 119 walks.

Ed Morris (1217)—Ed Morris had a very brief career, and pitched in Pittsburgh from 1885 to 1890. Morris, however, ranks third in Pirates’ history with 1217 strikeouts. His best season was 1886, when Morris went an astonishing 41-20 with a 2.45 ERA and career high 326 strikeouts.

Wilbur Cooper (1191)—Wilbur Cooper pitched for Pittsburgh most of his career, from 1912 to 1924, and he ranks fourth in team history with 1191 strikeouts. Cooper had four 20-win seasons, and he struck out a career high 134 batters in 1921, when he also went 22-14 with a 3.25 earned run average.

John Candelaria (1159)—Lefty John Candelaria, a.k.a. “The Candy Man,” helped the Pirates win a World Series in 1979, and he pitched in Pittsburgh from 1975 to 1985 and again in 1993. Candelaria was at his best early in his career, and he ranks fifth in Pirates’ history with 1159 K’s. Candelaria had a career high 157 strikeouts in 1983, but his best season was 1977. That year, he had career bests in wins (20-5) and ERA (2.34, led league) with 133 strikeouts.

Vern Law (1092)—Vern Law pitched for Pittsburgh his entire career, from 1950 to 1967, and he ranks sixth in franchise history with 1092 strikeouts. Law had his best season in the championship year of 1960, when he went 20-9 with a 3.08 ERA and career high 120 K’s.

Babe Adams (1036)—Babe Adams began his career in St. Louis in 1906, but pitched the rest of his career in Pittsburgh, from 1907 to 1926. Adams ranks seventh in Pirates’ team history with 1036 strikeouts, and his best overall season was 1913, when he went 21-10 with a 2.15 earned run average and career high 144 strikeouts.

Steve Blass (896)—Steve Blass pitched in Pittsburgh from 1964 to 1974, and he ranks eighth in Pirates’ history with 896 strikeouts. Blass had a career high 147 strikeouts in 1969, but his best season was 1972, when he went 19-8 with a 2.49 ERA and 117 K’s.

Dock Ellis (869)—Dock Ellis pitched for the Pirates most of his career, from 1968 to 1975 and again in 1979. Ellis ranks ninth in franchise history with 869 strikeouts, and he had a career high 173 K’s in 1969 despite going 11-17. His best season was 1971, when Ellis went 19-9 with a 3.06 ERA and 137 strikeouts.

Deacon Phillippe (861)—Deacon Phillippe pitched in Pittsburgh most of his career, from 1900 to 1911, and he ranks tenth in team history with 861 strikeouts. Phillippe won 25 games in 1903, but his best season was arguably 1905, when he went 20-13 with a 2.19 earned run average and career high 133 K’s.


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