4. Reggie Sanders: 2003
2003 was directly in the middle of the Pirates’ 20-season losing streak and many might not remember that the Pirates’ had a pretty incredible off-season leading into the season. They signed Matt Stairs, Jeff Suppan, Kenny Lofton, and my number four selection, Reggie Sanders.
The power of hindsight says that those players signed didn’t amount to much as the 2003 Pirates finished 75-87 for their 11th straight losing season. However, entering the year with the off-season they had, a few media outlets picked the Pirates to contend for a National League Wildcard spot. It didn’t happen, but it certainly wasn’t the fault of Reggie Sanders.
Sanders had a fantastic season, slashing .285/.345/.567/.913/131OPS+ while hitting 31 home runs and driving in 87 runs. He was also worth 3.1 WAR in his first and only season with the Pirates. He added 15 stolen bases and 74 runs scored as well. The team might not have accomplished much in 2003, but Reggie Sanders was outstanding and more than worthy of being considered one of the best free agent signings in Pirates’ history.