But in 1960, the experts criticized Mantle because he batted only .275. It was the first time that he had produced such a low batting average since his rookie season.
Roger Maris, who finished one home run behind Mantle, batted .283. Bill Skowron, who finished with 26 home runs, hit .309. Hector Lopez batted .284. Mantle finished fourth on the Yankees and was only 19th in the league.
In 1960, the first thing measured was a hitter's batting average. How we have learned.
Maris had a better season that Mantle, but not by a lot. Maris led the league with a WAR (wins above replacement) of 7.3. Mantle was second with a 6.1 WAR.
After finishing in third place in 1959, the Yankees were involved with the Baltimore Orioles and Chicago White Sox for the 1960 pennant. On Sept. 8, the Yankees lost to the White Sox. They trailed the first-place Orioles by 1.5 games.
Then Mantle, Maris and the Yankees went to work.
There were 15 games left for the Yankees. The were tied with the Orioles for first place while the White Sox trailed by two games.
The Yankees won the last 15 games of the season. They beat the Orioles four times, the Washington Senators five times and the Boston Red Sox six times. They won the pennant by eight games.
It is interesting to note that Mantle batted third more often than Maris in 1960. For most of his career, Mantle usually batted third. Casey Stengel, who was Mantle's only manager, batted Maris fourth most of the time.
In the World Series, Mantle batted .400/.545/.800 with three home runs, 11 RBI and eight walks. The Yankees batted .338/.383/.528 with 10 home runs. Sadly, they lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates in seven games.
Stengel was fired, and Ralph Houk took over. To state that Mantle was upset was an understatement.
Houk make Mantle the team's leader, batted him fourth, and the Yankees had a goal in 1961. It would be one of the greatest seasons ever.