Waner broke into the major leagues with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1927 and quickly built the reputation of a slap hitter with an astute sense of plate discipline. In his rookie campaign, he batted .355 with 223 hits while only striking out 23 times (the highest strikeout total of his career).
Waner played for the Pirates until the beginning of the 1941 season. In the preceding years he batted .300 or higher ten times, finished in the top ten in MVP voting twice (1927 and 1929) and was an All-Star once (1938).
After splitting time in 1941, 1942 and 1944 with the Boston Braves, Cincinnati Reds, Philadelphia Phillies and Brooklyn Dodgers, Waner returned to Pittsburgh, where he finished his career in 1945. He finished with a career .316 batting average.