Willie Mays is one of the greatest baseball players of all time.
In the late 1950s, there was no better player than Mays. In 1970, Mays was named Player of the '60s. However, what are Willie's top 10 seasons?
I will check the stats, how many games his team won, and if he got support. I would love to hear your opinions on what season was better. Let's start the countdown at No. 10.
In 1956 Willie Mays had one of his best seasons. Mays batted .296, hit 36 home runs, drove in 84 runs, scored 101 runs, and had a slugging percentage of .557. Mays also stole a career high 40 bases, however the Giants finished 67-87.
In 1963 Willie Mays won his seventh straight Gold Glove award, while the Giants won 88 games. Mays was also great with his bat. Playing alongside Willie McCovey, Orlando Cepeda, and Matty Alou, Mays batted .314, hit 38 home runs, drove in 103 runs, and scored another 115 runs. He finished fifth in MVP voting that year.
In 1960 Mays was robbed of the MVP award. Instead, he finished behind two Pittsburgh Pirates (Dick Groat and Don Hoak). Mays was the best player in the league. Although the Giants were 79-75, Mays hit 29 home runs and stole 25 bases. He batted .319, drove in 103 runs, and scored 107 runs. Mays also won his fourth consecutive Gold Glove award. The Pirates won the pennant in 1960, which is the main reason why a Pirate won the MVP award.
1957 was the first year that Willie Mays became the best defensive outfielder in baseball. He won his first Gold Glove and also led the league in triples (20) and stolen bases (38). Mays, as usual, also did well with his bat, batting .333 while hitting 35 home runs. He also scored 112 runs. 1957 might have been the season that made Willie Mays the best and more feared player in baseball.
1961 was a great year for Mays. Entering 1961 Mays had already hit 279 home runs in only nine seasons. In 1961 Mays hit 40 home runs and drove in 123 runs. He led the league in runs with 129. Mays also batted .308 with 32 doubles. What makes this season special is that the Giants had a very poor pitching staff and Willie McCovey wasn't Willie McCovey yet, so Willie Mays was basically providing most of the offense.
Willie Mays won his third home runs crown when he hit 47 home runs. Despite "only" batting .296, Mays drove in 111 runs and scored 121 runs. It was the 11th straight season that Willie Mays scored at least 100 runs, and for the sixth straight season (and eight overall) Mays drove in at least 100 runs. Mays had a .607 slugging percentage, which led the league. Orlando Cepeda provided offensive support with 31 home runs and Juan Marichal won 21 games.
One year after leading the league in home runs, Mays won his second (and last) MVP award in 1965. Mays had a monster season. He won his ninth consecutive Gold Glove, batted .317, led the league in home runs with 52, drove in 112 runs, scored 118 runs, and led the league in slugging percentage (.645). Mays also had the most total bases (360) and had the highest on base percentage (.398). Mays batted .317 when the league average was .263.
In 1955 Willie Mays carried his team. He batted .319, but the Giants only batted .260 as a team. He hit 51 of their 169 home runs, drove in 127 of their 643 runs, scored 123 of their 702 runs, and stole 24 of their 38 bases. I really don't understand why Willie Mays wasn't the MVP. He finished fourth, behind Roy Campanella, Duke Snider, and Ernie Banks. All three of them had great years, but Mays was the best overall player and he carried the team on his back.
In 1962 the Giants finished 103-62, which was good enough to give them the NL Pennant. In the World Series they faced the New York Yankees. In 1962 Mays was robbed of the MVP award (Maury Willis won because he stole 104 bases). Mays was the better overall player. Mays batted .304, hit a league-leading 49 home runs, drove in 141 runs (career high), scored 130 runs (career high), and had a .615 slugging percentage. Mays also won his sixth consecutive Gold Glove.
1954 was Willie's second full season and this is what he did. He led the league in batting average (.345), hit 41 home runs, drove in 110 runs, scored 119 runs, led the league in triples with 13, his .667 slugging percentage (career high) led the league, he won his first MVP award, and the Giants won the World Series. Mays drove in three runs in the World Series and made the greatest catch in the history of baseball. The Giants also swept the heavily favored Cleveland Indians to win the World Series.