Monday, October 24, 2022


Into the sixties we go, with another batch of second-half stalwarts. Frank Robinson and Henry Aaron will be along promptly...

Here's Frank, with a blowtorch second half that gets him close to the Top 40. Ted Williams takes his final bow this year, pushing himself just into the Top 300 with that famed home run in his final at-bat. Eddie Mathews comes up big in the clutch, delivering 80 RBI.

Norm Cash pushes up to #62 with his second-half performance during the AL expansion year in '61, putting him ahead of Mickey Mantle and Jim Gentile; note that OBP! As we noted in our writeup of the '62 season, F. Robby was arguably the real MVP in the 1962 NL.

Our first sighting of the ever-so-steady Henry Aaron, not firing on nine cylinders, but just cruising along in '63, the year of the strike zone change. Willie Mays and Orlando Cepeda also had great second halves, but it wasn't enough to get the Giants back into the World Series. Young Boog Powell, playing in the outfield (!!), has a stellar year (and second half) in 1964. Mays and Billy Williams, who'd both been off to exceptionally hot starts in '64, turned up the heat in the second half during the following year.

Pitching starts to get overwhelming in 1967, buy that doesn't stop Carl Yastrzemski from climbing the mountain to get the Red Sox into the World Series. During that same year, Roberto Clemente turned back the clock to the Deadball Era with a style of hitting that had been AWOL for some time. The year before, Frank Robinson moved over to the AL, won the Triple Crown, and got his HR stroke down as he led the Orioles to a shocking sweep of the defending champion Dodgers in the World Series. 

1968 took so much wind out of the sails of major-league hitters that it's not surprising that only Clemente found his way onto this list; with the low overall OPS for baseball that year, he actually cracks into the Top 200. In '69, Rusty Staub finds his HR stroke, Willie McCovey cools off from his hot first half but still makes it to #110 for "part deux," and Pete Rose chases down the Mets' Cleon Jones in the second half to win another batting title. (And note that nobody really wanted to pitch to Harmon Killebrew: in the second half of 1969, he has more walks than hits.)

As you'd expect, there are no .400+ hitters in this group; no .500+ OBPs registered (McCovey was closest, at .459); and only one SLG above .700 (Mays, in '63). But kindly note that we haven't seen the last of Henry Aaron...