The Rickey Awards: Leadoff Triple Crown Leaders of the 1960s

I was reading the Old STATS Baseball Scorecards and they had a leadoff Triple Crown. It consisted of On Base Average, Runs and Stolen Bases. This is logical as On Base Average relates to batting average, Runs relates to RBIs and stolen bases is like, but not as helpful to winning as home runs.

I wondered who would be the leaders every year, as non-leadoff hitters try to get on base and score runs. Some even try to steal bases. I developed a formula like Bill James did for the regular triple crown. As Bill did his study, he came up with 1,000 total points which is impossible to hit. I did the same:

On Base Average: Maximum 400 points. I award two points for every point above .300 and up to .500.

Runs. Maximum 300 points. I awarded 2 points for every run up to 150 runs.

Stolen Bases. I award 3 points for each stolen base up to 100.

I debated the number of points for stolen bases, but decided I wanted an advantage for actual lead off men. Also, there haven’t been many years someone exceeded 100 stolen bases.

After reading a few of these listings, a Bill James online a reader came up with the name Rickey awards after Rickey Henderson, the man many of us consider the greatest leadoff man in baseball history. So, I will periodically call these the Rickey Awards.

1960 AL

Here are the leaders for the AL in 1960 along with the number of points:

1. Mickey Mantle NY 478
2. Eddie Yost Det 399
3. Pete Runnels Bos 377
3. Minnie Minoso Clev 377
3. Jim Landis Chi 377
6. Luis Aparicio Chi 371
7. Roy Sievers Chi 369
8. Gene Woodling Bal 347
9. Roger Maris NY 344
10. Al Smith Chi 332

Things I learned:

Chicago had 4 of the top 10. They had 122 stolen bases in 1960, the rest of the league stole 300 bases. The White Sox were the only league team with over 100 stolen bases.

Mantle with 119 runs was the only American League player with 100 or more. Teammate Maris was second in the league with 98.

1960 NL

Here are the NL leaders for 1960.

1. Richie Asburn Chi 476
2. Willie Mays SF 451
3. Eddie Mathews Mil 431
4. Frank Robinson Cinn 425
5. Vada Pinson Cinn 388
6. Maury Wills LA 384
7. Hank Aaron Mil 356
8. Ken Boyer StL 354
9. Bill Bruton Mil 350
10. Jim Gilliam LA 346

Head and shoulders of Philadelphia Phillies Richie Ashburn

Things I learned:

Bill Burton didn’t make the top 10 when he led the league in stolen bases his first three years. He had his best batting years in 1960.

The Braves had 3 of the 5 players who scored 100 or more runs.

1961 AL

Here are the AL leaders for 1961:

1. Norm Cash Det 645
2. Mickey Mantle NY 594
3. Dick Howser KC 481
4. Rocky Colavito Det 465
5. Al Kaline Det 460
6. Albie Pearson LA 457
7. Jim Gentile Balt 441
8. Roger Maris NY 408
9. Harmon Killebrew Minn 401
10. Lenny Green Minn 383

What I learned:

Albie Pearson was the Rookie of the Year with the Senators in 1958. I know he was hurt in 1959, got off to a slow start, and was traded for Lenny Green. Bob Allison his replacement won Rookie of the Year in 1959. Lenny Green is the second on Pearson’s Similarity Batter list.

Dick Houser was one of those Kansas City As who had their best season as a rookie. I assume he was hurt in 1962 as he only played 83 games. He never had a better season, although his 1964 with the Indians was decent.

The Tigers had 3 of the top 5 here and the same 3 were in the top 7 in on base average. That certainly helped them lead the league in runs scored.

Luis Aparicio led the league with 53 stolen bases but didn’t make the top 10 as his on base average was only 313.

1961 NL

Here are the NL leaders for 1961:

1. Frank Robinson Cinn 508
2. Willie Mays SF 498
3. Hank Aaron Mil 455
4. Wally Moon LA 447
5. Eddie Mathews Mil 446
6. Ken Boyer StL 430
7. Vada Pinson Cinn 429
8. Maury Wills LA 407
9. Roberto Clemente Pitt 392
10. Orlando Cepeda SF 370

What I Learned.

Frank Robinson won because he had stolen 4 more bases than Willie Mays.

All I knew about Wally Moon was his Moon shots in the Colosseum. He does well here for a couple of years, practically in on base average.

1962 AL

Here are the AL leaders for 1962:

1. Mickey Mantle NY 591
2. Norm Siebern KC 461
3. Joe Cunningham Chi 411
4. Albie Pearson LA 395
5. Pete Runnels Bos 385
6. Norm Cash Det 370
7. Bob Allison Minn 368
8. Floyd Robinson Chi 358
9. Lenny Green Minn 352
10. Chuck Hinton Wash 352

What I Learned:

Two expansion guys made the top 10.

Luis Aparicio led the American League in stolen bases, with only a total of 31. He had an on base average of .280 so earned zero on base points.

1962 NL

Here are the NL leaders for 1962:

1, Maury Wills LA 654
2. Frank Robinson Cinn 564
3. Willie Mays SF 482
4. Hank Aaron Mil 479
5. Tommy Davis LA 442
6. Bob Skinner Pitt 394
7. George Alman Chi 391
8. Eddie Mathews Mil 386
9. Bill White StL 385
10. Vada Pinson Cinn 374

What I learned:

Maury Wills would have won if stolen bases were only worth 2. Frank Robinson led the league with 134 runs. Wills and Mays tied for second with 130 runs. Wills had a decent on base average (347). These must have been the stats the writers used when voting for the MVP that year.

1963 AL

Here are the AL leaders for 1963:

1. Carl Yastrzemski Bos 442
2. Albie Pearson LA 439
3. Bob Allison Minn 372
4. Al Kaline Det 346
5. Tom Tresh NY 333
6. Chuck Hinton Wash 315
7. Norm Cash Det 310
8. Rocky Colavito Det 298
9. Floyd Robinson Chi 276
10. Rich Rollins Minn 274
10. Harmon Killebrew Minn 274

What I Learned:

Ed Charles the star of an article today had 273 points, just missing the top 10.

Luis Aparicio, now with Baltimore, led the American League in stolen bases with 40. However, he again had an on base average below .300. He didn’t miss the top 10 by much with 266 points.

1963 NL

Here are the NL leaders for 1963:

1. Hank Aaron Mil 517
2. Willie Mays SF 414
3. Maury Wills LA 396
4. Frank Robinson Cinn 394
5. Eddie Mathews Mil 371
6. Vada Pinson Cinn 367
7. Bill White StL 362
8. Orlando Cepeda SF 356
9. Tony Gonzalez Phil 339
10. Dick Groat Pitt 333
10. Tony Taylor Phil 333

What I learned:

Like Aparicio, Maury Wills had 40 stolen bases in 1963. However, he had a decent on base average .355, which helped him score 10 more runs.

Hank Aaron had his best stolen base year with 31 stolen bases out of 36 attempts. He was second in on base average, first in runs and second in stolen bases.

1964 AL

Here are the AL leaders for 1964:

1. Mickey Mantle NY 448
2. Bob Allison Minn 418
3. Luis Aparicio Bal 405
4. Tony Oliva Minn 372
5. Floyd Robinson Chi 369
6. Norm Siebern Balt 348
7. Boog Powell Balt 346
8. Harmon Killebrew Minn 344
9. Dick Howser Cle 332
9. Al Kaline Det 332

What I Learned.

Luis Aparicio got his on base average up to 324 giving his best year in the triple crown categories.

Neither Harmon Killebrew nor Boog Powell had a stolen base during the year.

I knew the name Floyd Robinson, but never thought much about him. However, he was rookie of the year in 1961 and had MVP votes from 1962 to 1965. I don’t know if he got hurt in 1966 or what happened. He played less games and didn’t have that good of a year. He was then traded but had two years where he didn’t play well at all.

1964 NL

Here are the NL leaders for 1964:

1. Frank Robinson Cinn 467
1. Lou Brock Chi-StL 467
3. Willie Mays SF 465
4. Hank Aaron Mil 458
5. Dick Allen Phil 423
6. Ron Santo Chi 393
7. Roberto Clemente Pitt 381
8. Billy Williams Chi 370
9. Maury Wills LA 357
10. Willie Davis LA 340

What I Learned:

Not only was there a tie between Frank Robinson and Lou Brock, but Willie Mays and Hank Aaron were right on their tails. The difference between Robinson and Aaron was Robinson had a higher on base average by three points, (probably not even two times on base) and one more stolen base. They scored the same amount of runs.

Lou Brock had a great year after be traded to the Cardinals and deserved his 10th place finish in the MVP vote. He would have been in the top 10 in on base average if you just count his time with the Cardinals.

Maury Will and Willie Davis finished first and third in stolen bases. Brock beat Davis by one stolen base. However, they had on base averages of .318 and .316 respectively.

Here are the AL leaders for 1965:

1. Tony Oliva Minn 427
2. Zoilo Versalles Minn 371
3. Carl Yastrzemski Bos 367
4. Leon Wagner Clev 356
5. Rocky Colavito Cle 353
5. Don Buford Chi 353
7. Bert Campaneris KC 339
8. Curt Blefary Balt 318
9. Norm Cash Det 318
10. Vic Davalillo Clev 300

Things I learned:

The Twins won the pennant and had the top two in the triple crown stats. They also finished 1 and 2 in the MVP race and runs scored, both times with Versalles ahead of Oliva. These two were the only league players who scored 100 runs or more. In fact, Versalles scored 126 runs, the highest total in the American League between 1962 and 1976. His on base percentage was only .319. How did he do that. First, he led the American League in plate appearances with 728 so he was on base 232 times. That still means he scored over half the time he was on bases. He hit 19 home runs, so that is 107 out of 213 times which is just over .50 percent. Versalles did have a lot of extra base hits, leading the league with 45 doubles and 12 triples. His OPS+ was 115 easily a career high. Versalles also stoled 27 bases while only getting caught 5 times. It seems he did everything well in 1965 but getting on base. However, scoring over half the time you get on base, a lot of the credit has to go to the guys hitting behind you, one of the guys being Oliva.

1965 NL

Here are the NL leaders for 1965:

1. Maury Wills LA 526
2. Lou Brock StL 493
3. Willie Mays SF 459
4. Jim Wynn Hou 451
5. Hank Aaron Mil 448
6. Tommy Harper Cinn 437
7. Frank Robinson Cinn 429
8. Pete Rose Cinn 422
9. Billy Williams Chi 414
10. Joe Morgan Hou 406

Things I learned:

Stolen bases for once mean more than on base average, as on base average was going down and stolen bases were going up. Thus, Willie Mays led in on base average for the first time but came in third in the leadoff triple crown statistics.

The Reds had sixth, seventh and eighth position. Tommy Harper led the league in runs scored. Frank Robinson went from first to seventh. He must be fading, maybe the Reds should trade him.

1966 AL

Here are the AL leaders for 1966:

1. Frank Robinson Balt 488
2. Tommie Agee Chi 380
3. Don Buford Chi 369
3. Al Kaline Det 369
5. Harmon Killebrew Minn 360
6. Tony Oliva Minn 343
7. Joe Foy Bos 328
8. Dick McAuliffe Det 327
9. Bert Campaneris KC 324
10. Carl Yastrzemski Bos 322
10. Fred Valentine Wash 322

What I learned:

Frank Robinson came to the American League and dominated. He lead the league in on base average and runs as well as winning the triple crown. He scored 122 runs. Tony Oliva was second with 99 runs. Robinson was also the only league player with an on base average over .400.

1966 NL

Here are the NL leaders for 1966:

1. Lou Brock StL 450
2. Dick Allen Phil 446
3. Ron Santo Chi 422
4. Hank Aaron Atl 409
5. Sonny Jackson Hou 389
6. Matty Alou Pitt 387
7. Felipe Alou SF 381
8. Joe Morgan Hou 373
9. Willie McCovey SF 358
10. Tommy Harper Cinn 353

What I learned:

Lou Brock is doing a lot better than I would have guessed in this competition, two firsts and a second already.

1967 AL

Here are the AL leaders for 1967:

1. Carl Yastrzemski Bos 490
2. Al Kaline Det 434
3. Harmon Killebrew Minn 429
4. Frank Robinson Balt 378
5. Bert Campaneris KC 335
6. Dick McAuliffe Det 330
7. George Scott Bos 324
8. Bill Freehan Det 313
9. Mickey Mantle NY 311
10. Cesar Tovar Minn 303

What I learned:

Wow, four hall of famers to start the list. They were the only 4 batters with on base averages over .400. Frank Robinson finished in fourth despite only playing only 129 games.

There was a long way between 4th and 5th which allowed Bert Campaneris to sneak into 5th place. He had an on base average below .300 but led the league with 55 stolen bases.

I was surprised that Cesar Tovar could come in 10th place in the lead off category as he also didn’t have real good on base percentages and only had a fair amount of stolen bases. I guess that is why he got a first place MVP vote.

1967 NL

Here are the NL leaders for 1967:

1. Dick Allen Phil 446
2. Lou Brock StL 436
3. Roberto Clemente Pitt 433
4. Hank Aaron Atl 415
5. Orlando Cepeda StL 413
6. Ron Santo Chi 407
7. Joe Morgan Hou 389
8. Aldolfo Phillips Chi 372
9.Tony Gonzalez Phil 370
10. Jim Ray Hart SF 345

What I learned:

Dick Allen has also done well in this category. He got on base and scored a lot of runs and had a fair number of stolen bases. He won a tight three-man race in 1967.

Joe Morgan is sneaking on the bottom of the list in the 60s. I predict he will do better in the 70s even though I haven’t started my study of the 70s yet.

1968 AL

Here are the AL leaders for 1968:

1. Carl Yastrzemski Bos 471
2. Bert Campaneris Oak 420
3. Frank Robinson Balt 351
4. Roy White NY 338
5. Cesar Tovar Minn 335
6. Don Buford Balt 333
7. Reggie Smith Bos 306
8. Dick McAuliffe Det 302
8. Mickey Mantle NY 302
10. Mike Andrews Bos 299

What I learned:

This is the first year I paid attention to MLB baseball the whole year. I was 9 years old. I didn’t know then it was the year of no offense. It is certain proved with these numbers that are so bad and some unexpected names are in the top 10. Carl Yastrzemski was the only player who had an on base average over .400 and was one of two players to score 90 or more runs, giving him an easy victory. Dick McAuliffe led the league with 95 runs scored.

I made fun of Cesar Tovar coming in 10 in 1967. Who knew he would come in 5th in 1968. He actually had a fair on base average for 1968 with plenty of runs and no stolen bases.

Mike Andrews was the surprising name in the top 10, although he would become more famous 6 years later in the World Series.

1968 NL

Here are the NL leaders for 1968:

1. Lou Brock StL 426
2. Pete Rose Cinn 379
3. Hank Aaron Atl 360
3. Maury Wills Pitt 360
5. Jim Wynn Hou 355
6. Willie Mays SF 348
7. Willie McCovey SF 330
8. Ron Hunt SF 318
9. Felipe Alou Atl 310
10. Dick Allen Phil 299

What I learned:

Lou Brock led the league in stolen bases and Pete Rose another leadoff man led the league in on base percentage. Rose scored two more runs. I was thinking I made a mistake in giving 3 points to stolen bases, as arguably Rose had a better year. However, Rose led the league with an OBA of only .391 and next year’s American League results would made me question whether I was giving too many points to on base average. Not as intensely, but I will discuss it then.

I always thought of Jim Wynn as a pretty good base stealer and never really thought of Hank Aaron that way. However, 34-year-old Hank Aaron had more stolen bases and better percentage than 26-year-old Jim Wynn. For some reason Wynn was thrown out a lot in 1968. He was usually a good percentage base stealer. However, for their career Aaron had more stolen bases and less caught stealing.

The Giants came in 6th, 7th and 8th place. Ron Hunt was hit by a pitch 25 times to help his on base percentage. He won the first of seven-consecutive hit by pitch titles he won to end his career. He is 6th on the all-time hit by pitch list.

1969 AL

Here are the AL leaders for 1969:

1. Reggie Jackson Oak 505
2. Harmon Killebrew Minn 490
3. Frank Robinson Balt 479
4. Tommy Harper Sea 473
5. Don Buford Balt 449
6. Frank Howard Wash 429
7. Cesar Tovar Minn 417
8. Sal Bando Oak 415
9. Rico Petrocelli Bost 399
10. Mike Epstein Wash 376

What I learned:

I had a problem with Tommy Harper coming in fourth behind Killebrew and Frank Robinson. I think Reggie deserved to win this contest. However, it wasn’t as strong the feeling between Lou Brock and Pete Rose in 1968. There the margin of victory also bothered me. This race was the opposite of the other as it was the one with the higher on base averages that bothered me. Harper had a decent on base average .349 and led the league in stolen bases with 73. However, he only scored 78 runs, in part because he played for an expansion team. However, since these two feelings conflict each other, I believe my numbers aren’t that far off for a project like this.

1969 NL

Here are the NL leaders for 1969:

1. Jim Wynn Hou 567
2. Pete Rose Cinn 517
3. Willie McCovey SF 508
4. Cleon Jones NY 476
5. Joe Morgan Hou 465
6. Lou Brock StL 451
7. Rusty Staub Mont 439
8. Hank Aaron Atl 419
9. Matty Alou Pitt 414
10. Roberto Clemente Pitt 408

What I Learned:

I guess the on base percentage had to be higher than the stolen bases, as stolen base specialist didn’t do as well in either league in 1969. As we always suspected (and basically knew) it is better to steal bases in a low run environment where every run is precious). Here is proof even in these three categories. As players get on base less, the stolen base is a more effective weapon. Lou Brock’s score went up from 1968 to 1969. However, the league went up because of the rule changes.

Top 10 AL 1960s

Specifically, for this article I figured the top 10 in each league for the decade as a whole. I gave points for each of the top 10. I gave 12 points for first, 10 for second 8 for third on down to 1 point for 10th. Here are the top 10 for the decade with their total points for the decade listed behind them.

  1. Mickey Mantle 50
  2. Carl Yastrzemski 45
  3. Frank Robinson 35
  4. Al Kaline 31
  5. Harmon Killebrew 29.5
  6. Tony Oliva 24
  7. Don Buford 24
  8. Norm Cash 23
  9. Albie Pearson 22
  10. Bob Allison 22
  11. Bert Campaneris 22

Mickey Mantle won two in a row. The top 5 are all hall of famers, the other six aren’t. These are probably the best 5 hitters of the decade in the American League, I can’t think of anyone better. However, they weren’t super base stealers. The most bases any of them stole in the American League was 23 by Yastrzemski. The first four had good percentages in stolen bases. Killebrew didn’t as he was really slow. The six non hall of famers are all bunched together. They each put together a few good years.

Top 10 NL 1960s

  1. Hank Aaron 68.5
  2. Lou Brock 60
  3. Willie Mays 59
  4. Frank Robinson 51
  5. Maury Wills 49.5
  6. Dick Allen 29
  7. Jim Wynn 25
  8. Eddie Mathews 23
  9. Pete Rose 23
  10. Ron Santo 18

Hank Aaron was Mr. Consistency like usual. He finished in the top 10 every time with one victory to win the National League. We should mention that Frank Robinson finished in the top 10 of his league every year, but it happened to be two leagues. He finished in third overall in the American League and fourth overall in the National League, despite 6 years in the National League and 4 in the American League. He had an overall total of 86 points between the two leagues. So if you want to give him a Rickey Award for MLB for the decade as a whole, fine with me.

Lou Brock did great for five years where had 3 firsts and 2 seconds from 1964 to 1968. He also does well in the early 70s.

The National League had 7 of 10 of its top players elected to the Hall of Fame. Only Maury Wills, who a lot of people thought was a hall of famer while playing, Dick Allen, who a lot of people argue should be elected to the hall of fame and Jim Wynn, who might have made the hall of fame if he played in a better ball park to play in weren’t hall of famers.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s