Top 27 Single-Season Pittsburgh Pirates RBI Leaders

pittsburgh pirates RBI leaders

Last Updated on June 25, 2024 by Matt Musico

The Pittsburgh Pirates are one of the oldest franchises in professional baseball. They’ve been around since 1882. Coincidentally enough, there have been 82 different single-season performances of 100-plus RBI in franchise history. We’re going to go over the top 27 single-season Pirates RBI leaders below. First, it’ll be an in-depth look at the top five before listing out the remainder of the top of this leaderboard.

Single-Season Pirates RBI Leaders: Top 5

Paul Waner: 131 RBI in 1927

Paul Waner spent the first 15 of his 20-year Hall of Fame career with the Pirates. The 1927 campaign was his second full season, and his performance earned him an MVP Award. He led the league in batting average (.380), hits (237), triples (18), RBI (131), and total bases (342) as a 24-year-old.

Waner produced four straight months of 20-plus RBI between May and August. May and June were especially productive because they were both 30-RBI months. Across 240 plate appearances, the outfielder slashed .410/.453/.659. He only hit three homers during this time, but it was accompanied by 19 doubles, 13 triples, 62 RBI, and 50 runs scored. Waner was at his best when the Pirates were losing. In that situation during the ’27 campaign, he hit .413/.461/1.100 with 44 RBI.

Ralph Kiner: 127 RBI in 1947

Ralph Kiner’s 1947 campaign was the second straight year he led the league in homers. He slugged 51 while driving in those 127 runs. The slugger finished sixth in MVP Award voting, which started a streak of five straight years of him finishing within the top 10. This performance also began another streak in which Kiner slugged at least 40 homers with 109-plus RBI in a season. He finished his 10-year career with 369 homers and 1,015 RBI.

Believe it or not, Kiner’s season got off to a slow start before having a prolonged blistering finish. Through May 31 (131 plate appearances), he hit .288/.315/.408 with three homers and 17 RBI. Over the final four months (535 plate appearances), he hit .321/.441/.705 with 48 homers and 110 RBI. August and September were especially impressive. Kiner slugged 26 homers with 56 RBI in just 58 games played.

Ralph Kiner: 127 RBI (again) in 1949

Kiner matched his career-high mark in RBI two years later while posting his second (and final) 50-homer season. He hit a career-high 54 dingers while once again appearing at the top of the single-season Pirates RBI leaders list. Kiner led the league in both homers and RBI in 1949. This was the only year of his career in which that achievement was accomplished. This campaign also included his highest career MVP Award finish — he placed fourth.

The right-handed power hitter was an equal-opportunity slugger when it came to his home and away splits. While suiting up at Forbes Field, Kiner posted a 1.171 OPS with 29 homers and 67 RBI. On the road, those numbers settled in at 1.014, 25, and 60, respectively. August and September were once again his best months of the year. Kiner posted monthly highs in homers (11) and RBI (26) in August before promptly surpassing those numbers in September (16 homers, 33 RBI).

Honus Wagner: 126 RBI in 1901

Honus Wagner led baseball in RBI (126) and steals (49) during his 1901 campaign. It was part of a six-year stretch where he compiled at least 91 RBI with 27-plus steals. In addition to those league-leading stats in ’01, Wagner also scored 101 runs and collected 194 total hits while slashing .353/.417/.494 for Pittsburgh.

Although the Hall of Famer had the same number of RBI at home as he did on the road (63), he reached another level in the second half. Wagner had 82 RBI over his final 68 games played, and it was all made possible from just an other-worldly final month. He hit .392/.446/.552 with 12 doubles, four triples, and one home run over his final 36 games played (163 plate appearances). It also included an astounding 51 (!!) RBI.

That’s how you finish the season strong.

Willie Stargell: 125 RBI in 1971

The 1971 season was the start of three straight All-Star campaigns for Willie Stargell. It was also the first of three straight top-three finishes in NL MVP Award voting. This particular campaign included single-season career-high marks in homers (48) and RBI (125). This three-year run from 1971-73 was pretty special, though. Stargell hit .296/.388/.611 during that time while averaging 42 homers, 32 doubles, 119 RBI and 95 runs scored.

Stargell’s least favorite situation was hitting when the Pirates were losing. When that happened, he posted just a .773 OPS. This number jumped up to 1.044 in tie games and again to 1.181 when Pittsburgh had the lead. His favorite inning of all was the sixth — his 10 homers and 21 RBI during that frame were the most of any that year.

Single-Season Pirates RBI Leaders: The Rest

As mentioned above, there have been 82 different instances of 100 RBI seasons in Pirates history. Here’s the remainder of the top 27:

  • Pie Traynor, 1928: 124 RBI
  • Ralph Kiner, 1948: 123
  • Brian Giles, 2000: 123
  • Jake Stenzel, 1894: 121
  • Glenn Wright, 1925: 121
  • Jake Beckley, 1894: 120
  • Bobby Bonilla, 1990: 120
  • Adam Comorosky, 1930: 119
  • Pie Traynor, 1930: 119
  • Roberto Clemente, 1966: 119
  • Willie Stargell, 1973: 119
  • Gus Suhr, 1936: 118
  • Ralph Kiner, 1950: 118
  • Dick Stuart, 1961: 117
  • Dave Parker, 1978: 117
  • Jimmy Williams, 1899: 116
  • Maurice Vanrobays, 1940: 116
  • Barry Bonds, 1991: 116
  • Josh Bell, 2019: 116
  • Brian Giles, 1999: 115
  • Clyde Barnhart, 1925: 114
  • Barry Bonds, 1990: 114

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