MVP Elections: 1962 NL

maury-willsWe just finished up our discussion on the 1960 NL MVP, so you’d figure that we’re going to zip ahead a few years, maybe switch leagues.  But here’s the thing – the next really interesting election is in the same league, just two years later.  Which brings me to our next election:  the 1962 National League.

The NL in 1962 had its first ten-team, 162-game season.  Everyone knows that this was the year of the Mets‘ miserable 40-120 season.  But what else do you know about 1962?

This feature is authored by Dr. Doom. Thanks Doc for your research in putting this series together.

Well, the pennant winners were the Giants, who became the fifth NL pennant winner in five years (then the longest-such streak of unique pennant winners on the senior circuit in the live-ball era; other stretches of 5+ years are:  1914-1919, 1960-1964, 1986-1991, 1997-2002, and 1998-2005; I didn’t check the AL, so someone else can do that, if they feel so inclined).  1962 was one of the odd ducks that featured two 100-game winners in the same pennant chase, as the Dodgers also won 101 games.  The Giants lost first place on July 8th, being defeated by the Dodgers, and didn’t crawl back into first until the final day of the season, when they topped the expansion Colt .45s to earn a tie with the Dodgers.  A best-of-three series for the pennant commenced.  The Giants took the first at home, and the Dodgers took the second in their home park.  The rubber match was also scheduled for Dodger stadium, where the road Giants took it 6-4, the winning pitcher being former Yankee hero Don Larsen.

Anyway, the MVP was the man who is credited with revitalizing the stolen base – Maury Wills, the Dodger SS who stole 104 bases and nearly hit .300, batting .299/.347/.373  while playing in all 165  Dodger games. Wills scored 130 runs while belting 6 HR and knocking in 48 as the Dodgers debuted in their new home, the cavernous Dodger Stadium (a true pitchers’ park where the Dodgers allowed 289 runs for the season, compared to 408 on the road!).

Much like our previous discussion of the NL in 1960, this MVP vote was utterly dominated by one team – but it wasn’t the pennant winner, this time.  The Dodgers also boasted the third- and fifth-place finishers in the race. Tommy Davis, the Dodger LF, scored nearly as many runs as Wills (120), but spoke more softly and carried a much, MUCH bigger stick.  He led the league in hits (230), average (.346), and RBI (a remarkable 153 – the most in MLB from 1950-1997, and the most in the NL from 1931-1997!). Davis also added 27 each of doubles and homers to go along with his .374 OBP and .535 SLG.  Another (somewhat hilarious) note of Davis’ season is that he finished 2nd in the NL in SB – with 32!  I’m guessing that the margin of 72 SB between the leader and second place is the largest in history.  Also showing up in the MVP voting was the Dodger ace and Cy Young winner Don Drysdale.  Drysdale led the league in innings with 314.1 and strikeouts with 232.  His 2.83 ERA was fourth (but only .03 out of second), and his WHIP of 1.113 was third.  And most important of all to the voters of the time was Drysdale’s sparkling 25-9 record, those 25 wins being tops on the senior circuit.

Jack Sanford of San Francisco (24-7, 3.43 ERA, 1.225 WHIP, 147 Ks in 265.1 IP)  and Bob Purkey of Cincinnati (23-5, 2.81 ERA, 1.124 WHIP, 141 Ks in 288.1 IP) put up remarkably similar lines to Drysdale, put didn’t appeal as much to the voters, who were (rightly or wrongly) more seduced by his Dodger Stadium-influenced numbers.  But each of them had a teammate who showed up near the top of the vote.

Sanford’s teammate was – who else – Willie Mays.  Mays led the NL in HR with 49 and was second in RBI (141, a career high), second in doubles (36), second in runs scored (130), and managed a league-leading 382 TB.  His .304/.384/.615 line screams “Willie Mays!” – and let’s not forget that Mays was still considered the best center-fielder in baseball, winning the Gold Glove for his work (and, at age 31, he still had five Gold Gloves ahead of him, so don’t think that his skills were totally diminished yet).

Purkey’s teammate of note was the previous season’s MVP, Frank Robinson.  Unfortunately for opposing pitchers, Robinson was even better in ’62 than he’d been the year before, improving in literally every statistical category except for SB, CS, SF, and IBB (though he still led the majors in the last of those categories).  Robinson’s .342 average was second and his 39 HR were third, but he paced the league in runs (134), 2B (51), OBP (.421), and SLG (.624) (and, obviously, OPS).  He finished a measly 2 TB behind Mays for the league lead.  Although Robinson was better than he’d been as MVP, his Reds were worse.  They’d outplayed their Pythagorean record by a remarkable 10 games in 1961, winning 93 and the pennant.  In ’62, Pythagoras says they were to actually win 93 – and again, they were lucky, winning 98.  But as the star on a third-place team, the bloom was off the Frank Robinson rose for the voters in 1962.

The final serious candidate for the MVP in 1962 was – who else? – Hank Aaron.  Aaron banged out 45 homers, scored 127 runs, knocked in 128, and slashed .323/.390/.618.  And while all those marks were near the top of the league (all in the top 5), he didn’t lead the league in anything.

So that brings us to it:  who is the 1962 NL MVP?  Is it a Dodger, a Red, a Giant, or the lone Brave?  Or do you have another player who should be in the race?

DIRECTIONS:  Please list 5-10 players on your MVP ballot (ballots with fewer than 5 candidates will be thrown out).  Ballots will be scored as per BBWAA scoring (14-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1).  Strategic voting is discouraged, though unenforceable, so please just don’t do it, as the goal here is to (somewhat) mimic the BBWAA process.  We will discuss for the first 3 days, and then have 4 days during which discussion can continue, but when ballots may be submitted.

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67 Comments on "MVP Elections: 1962 NL"

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Yanks23242
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Mays
Robinson
Aaron
Wills
Davis
Bob Purkey
Drysdale
Ken Boyer
Felipe Alou
Johnny Callison

Richard Chester
Guest

Largest margin between the AL leader and runner-up in SB in a season is 76 in 1982. Rickey Henderson had 130 to Damaso Garcia’s 54.

Richard Chester
Guest

The Wills-Davis margin of 72 SB in 1962 is the second largest.

Dr. Doom
Guest
Good catch on Henderson’s 1982, Richard! I didn’t look any of Henderson’s seasons up, knowing how rare SB were in the 1960s and how prevalent in the ’80s. But it really reminds you that Rickey was kind of on a different planet, doesn’t it? I would point out, though, that Wills didn’t just lead the NL by 72 – he led all of MLB by 72. In Henderson’s season, he led MLB by “only” 52, as Tim Raines stole 78 on the senior circuit. Also, the Dodgers led the NL in SB by 112. That is almost certainly not the… Read more »
Richard Chester
Guest

The largest NL seasonal margin in SB between the league leading team and the runner-up is the 132 by the 1985 Cards as mentioned above. And the 1962 Dodgers’ margin of 112 is the second highest. In 1949 also, no other team had at least half of as many SB as the league leader. The Dodgers had 118 SB to the runner-up Cubs with 54.

Gary Von Euer
Guest

Whoa! It was not Tommy Davis who stole 32 bases in 1962, but his teammate Willie Davis.

ATarwerdi96
Guest
Willie Mays was simply incredible in ’62. He dominated in high leverage situations, batting .438 with a 1.365 OPS in 112 PA. (Amazingly, fellow Giant Jim Davenport hit .529 with a 1.303 OPS, albeit in only 84 PA.) Unsurprisingly, Mays led the NL with a 7.7 WPA. Considering that Mays also had 2.1 dWAR, his was one of only three known seasons with 7+ WPA and 2+ dWAR. The other two are Jackie Robinson in 1951 and Mays again in 1966. It was also just one of 11 seasons ever with 8+ oWAR and 2+ dWAR, the others being Honus… Read more »
Dr. Doom
Guest

7+ WPA is rare – only 88 such seasons since 1931, or basically one per year. 1962 had three of them (no other season has more than 4 such players; the seasons with four are: 1957, 1961, 1967, 1969, and 2011). Mickey Mantle in the AL (7.99) and Hank Aaron in the NL (7.03) joined Mays’ 7.72, the second-highest mark of his career.

Dr. Doom
Guest
Another point that I somehow missed: Maury Wills in 1962 established the (still untied and unbroken) record for games played in a season: 165. He played in every Dodger contest, including the 3-game playoff. Three players appeared in 163+ games in the NL’s first 162-game season – Wills, Tommy Davis, and the Giants’ Jose Pagan. In spite of this being quite common in the 1960s (someone or other played in 163+ every year from 1961-1969 other than 1963 and 1966), it has become less common. In the 21st century, only two players have managed the feat: Hideki Matsui as a… Read more »
Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

Maury’s OBP was .347

Most runs scored, OBP under .350:

139 … Jimmy Rollins (88 XBH, 41 SB)
130 … Maury Wills
128 … Alfonso Soriano (92 XBH, 41 SB)
127 … Frankie Crosetti (Dickey, DiMaggio, Gehrig, Selkirk)
127 … Jimmy Rollins
126 … Tommy Leach (Honus)
126 … Donie Bush (Ty)
126 … Al Dark
126 … Tommy Harper
126 … Zoilo Versalles
122 … Nomar
__________________________

99 OPS+
Most runs with an ops+ under 100:

143 … Red Rolfe (Dickey, DiMaggio, Gehrig, Selkirk)
131 … Woody English
130 … Maury Wills
128 … Roger Peckinpaugh (Meusel, Ruth)
127 … Crosetti (same year as Rolfe, 1937)
126 … Donie Bush
124 … Johnny Pesky
121 … Vince Coleman
___________________________

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

Tommy Leach had 126 runs and 153 hits.
That’s 1.21 hits per run.

There are 27 guys who have scored more runs than Leach with:
H less than 1.25x R.

But, with an OBP also under .340:

126 .. Leach
73 …. Ruppert Jones
72 …. Dick Harley
68 …. Jake Wood
65 …. Ruben Rivera
62 …. Jose Valentin
61 …. Hap Myers
60 …. Erv Dusak
54 …. Dave Kingman
53 …. Jack Smith
48 …. Mark McGwire

He had Honus. Beyond that, not clear how he accomplished this:
http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/PIT/1909.shtml

Doug
Guest

One thing helping those Pirates was having seven players, including Leach, with 30 extra-base hits. That was the most on any team in the dead ball era. They also had seven players with 14 or more stolen bases, in the top 20% of dead ball era teams for most such players.

Paul E
Guest

….and, don’t discount the high percentage of unearned runs in an era when guys were still using oven mitts to play the field?

Dr. Doom
Guest
Wills, Crosetti, and Bush were the three players on your first two lists, Voomo. Of the three, Bush is probably the most interesting to me. Crosetti was a leadoff guy who got plunked a lot (led the league seven times, including five in a row). Wills is a more modern player, so people tend to know more about him. But explaining Bush’s appearance on the list is more interesting. He led the league in walks a lot – 1909-1012, and again in 1914. His biggest walk year was actually 1915, when he got 118 free passes, but Eddie Collins had… Read more »
Doug
Guest

I wrote, in the same vein, about Donie Bush in this piece from 2013.

http://www.highheatstats.com/2013/01/donie-bush-and-making-the-most-of-your-ops/

Paul E
Guest

FWIW:
Robinson
Mays
T. Davis
Aaron
Wills
Drysdale
Purkey
F. Alou
Howard
Pinson
I don’t think Robinson should get punished for his team not winning the pennant after a WS appearance and an MVP the prior year – unlike Mo Vaughn in the mid-90’s, who also had a better year off an M V P award-winning season. I believe John Valentin was the Red Sox MVP back then…. No question Robinson was the Reds’ M V P

Hartvig
Guest
A few other names for your consideration. Johnny Callison put up very solid offensive numbers and provided outstanding defense in right. His season was pretty similar to the one he would have 2 years later when he finished 2nd in the MVP race (altho not as good as the one in between when only managed a 15th place finish) Turk Ferrell had arguably the best 20-game losing season in MLB history. ERA of 3.02 vs a league average of 3.94, ERA+ of 124 in 29 starts plus 14 relief appearances, second in the league in WHIP, SO/BB ratio of 3.69.… Read more »
Paul E
Guest

Hartvig,
You might be correct about Turk Farrell. Per BR PI, the only guys with a better ERA+ than him are either dead-ball era or Nate Andrews (?) during WWII:
Across, that’s ERA+ L Year
1 Ed Walsh 189 20 1910
2 Jim Scott 154 21 1913
3 Nap Rucker 151 21 1912
4 Walter Johnson 147 20 1916
5 Joe McGinnity 139 20 1903
6 Nate Andrews 131 20 1943
7 Nick Cullop 130 20 1914
8 Harry Howell 129 22 1905
9 Vic Willis 128 20 1902

Hartvig
Guest
I should probably have excluded dead ball era guys from my statement since they could lose 20 and in some cases still win more than they lost because they were pitching so many innings. Same goes for a while in the 1970’s when guys like Wilbur Wood, Gaylord Perry & Phil Niekro were throwing 350+ innings in a year and getting close to 40 decisions in a season. But Turk still has a pretty good case for being the “best” in the modern era with that dubious distinction. And in a fair and just world he should have been in… Read more »
birtelcom
Editor
For this vote, I’ll go with averaging baseball-reference WAR and fangraphs WAR. I will probably refine this approach going forward. Happily, this time this method produces, as the top candidate, a guy with 10.5 WAR (both from b-ref and fangraphs) for a team that won the pennant in a playoff. Hilarious to think where SF would have been without Willie Mays. My vote: 1.Willie Mays 2. Frank Robinson 3. Hank Aaron 4. Don Drysdale 5. Turk Farrell 6. Bob Gibson 7. Tommy Davis 8. Bob Purkey 9. Johnny Callison 10. Eddie Mathews Wills is tied with Mathews for the 10th… Read more »
Doug
Guest

Don’t be a stranger, birtelcom.

Love to have you contribute an occasional piece, as you’re able.

birtelcom
Editor

Working on one now.

Mike L
Guest

Best news of the day. Looking forward to it.

Chris C
Guest

1. Mays
2. Robison
3. T. Davis
4. Aaron
5. Callison
6. Purkey
7. E. Matthews
8. Gibson
9. W. Davis
10. Wills

Hartvig
Guest
Looking over the voting & the league it is nothing short of remarkable how much talent there was in right field in the NL in 1962. You’ve got Aaron (who actually played a few more games in center than in right), Robinson, Clemente, Callison, Frank Howard, Felipe Alou and George Altman who put up some pretty decent numbers for the Cubbies. In Houston Roman Mejias had a pretty solid season at the plate even if he couldn’t get to a lot of the balls hit his way in the field. Even the hapless Mets had Richie Ashburn in right for… Read more »
Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

Vote:

1. Tommy Davis
2. Willie Mays
3. Frank Robinson
4. Hank Aaron
5. Maury Wills
6. Ken Boyer
7. Willie Davis
8. Johnny Callison
9. Don Drysdale
10. Felipe Alou

Tommy Davis with RISP:
.376 / .410 / .540 / .950

Vs the Giants:
.452 / .473 / .869 / 1.342

ATarwerdi96
Guest

1) Willie Mays
2) Hank Aaron
3) Frank Robinson
4) Johnny Callison
5) Tommy Davis
6) Bob Purkey
7) Felipe Alou
8) Bob Gibson
9) Jim Davenport
10) Maury Wills

no statistician but
Guest
The 1962 World Series was one of the strangest on record, viewed in retrospect. After the first game, Mays and Maris and Elston Howard joined Mantle and the majority of the rest of the position players in a miasma of offensive frustration. Mantle, trying to contribute in spite of his lack of hitting, stole two bases and got picked off once, a rare occurrence. The tying run in game five came on a passed ball. Don Larsen and Billie Pierce pitched well for the NL team. Chuck Hiller—who?—was the batting leader for the Giants, slugging a grand slam to break… Read more »
Howard
Guest

It was Willie Davis that was second in stolen bases with 32. Tommy stole 18.

no statistician but
Guest

Less explanation this time:

1) Frank Robinson. Over
2) Willie Mays.
Why? Because Frank was much more valuable to the Reds than Willie was to the Giants. The Giants line-up was loaded from top to bottom with McCovey in reserve.
3) Tommy Davis, edging
4) Maury Wills.
5) Hank Aaron.
6) Felipe Alou.
7) Johnny Callison.
8) Ken Boyer.
9) Stan Musial. I’m biased, yeah, but he was terrific that year at age 41, batting .330 with authority and power.
10. Orlando Cepeda.

As noted before, I don’t think starting pitchers belong in the MVP balloting. They have their own award.

Dr. Doom
Guest

My ballot:

1. Willie Mays
2. Frank Robinson
3. Hank Aaron
4. Tommy Davis
5. Maury Wills
6. Johnny Callison
7. Willie Davis
8. Don Drysdale
9. Bob Purkey
10. Ernie Banks

Hub Kid
Guest
1. Willie Mays 2. Frank Robinson 3. Tommy Davis 4. Hank Aaron 5. Maury Wills 6. Felipe Alou 7. Turk Farrell 8. Johnny Callison 9. Eddie Mathews 10. Jim Davenport I almost voted for Robinson as MVP, after Paul E and No Statistician But, but couldn’t do it. Two great seasons, but I had to go with hitting+defense. I can see how Wills won, with 165 games played and all those SBs… I’m never sure how WAR captures their value. I know it’s part of baserunning, and that CS detracts from the value of SBs, but it’s not like Wills… Read more »
Voomo Zanzibar
Guest
WAR says that it was the greatest baserunning season of all time. WAR Runs Baserunning, since 1901: 18.6 … Maury Wills ’62 17.7 … Rickey ’85 17.7 … Willie Wilson ’79 17.3 … Rickey ’88 17.1 … Vince Coleman ’86 16.5 … Willie Wilson ’80 13.6 … Vince Coleman ’87 13.4 … Kenny Lofton ’93 13.3 … David Eckstein ’01 ! 13.1 … Bobby Bonds ’72 12.9 … Raines ’83 12.4 … Davey Lopes ’75 12.3 … Willy Tavares ’08 12.2 … Eric Davis ’86 12.2 … Ron LeFlore ’79 12.0 … Larkin ’95 12.0 … Rickey ’83 12.0 …… Read more »
Richard Chester
Guest

WAR Runs Baserunning also takes into account how many bases the runner advanced on a hit or other balls put into play. A detailed explanation is presented in BR. On the BR home page click on more, then About and then WAR-Position Players and scroll down.

Dr. Doom
Guest

Voting for this round will close Wednesday, October 5th at midnight.

By the way, I’m going to count the vote at post 1. For next round (and the subsequent ones), I’m going to change the rules so that you can vote anytime during the week in question, but your vote is locked-in once it’s made, so no vote changes. That makes late voting perhaps wiser, and should still encourage discussion, which is what I really enjoy, anyway – although the results are interesting, too! 🙂

Richard Chester
Guest

Here’s my vote:
1) Mays
2) Robinson
3) Aaron
4) Tommy Davis
5) Drysdale
6) Purkey

Gary Bateman
Guest

Mays
T Davis
Robinson
Wills
Aaron
Purkey
Callison
Musial
Koufax (over Drysdale; if he’d have been there in August, Dodgers probably would have won)
Cepeda

Hartvig
Guest
#1 Mays- because he’s Willie Mays, that’s why #2 Aaron- over Robinson because he moved over to center for half the season #3 Robinson #4 Maury Wills – Bill James called him “A better ballplayer than a human being” I believe but in 1962 he was the best middle infielder by a pretty large margin- which makes him really valuable. #5 Tommy Davis- Yeah, I know RBI’s are overrated but holy buckets. #6 Turk Farrell- Not normally a fan of starting pitchers for MVP unless they really stand out but he relieved a fair bit and it had to be… Read more »
Brendan Bingham
Guest
A couple comments before my vote: 1) Before our 1960 and 1962 NL MVP exercises, I have had cause to look into Ernie Broglio’s career. While ’60 and ’62 were his best two seasons, on balance his career is surprisingly strong (107 ERA+ in 1300 IP), certainly not the punchline he’s often made out to be as the other end of the famous Lou Brock trade. 2) Perhaps I’ve posted this comment here before (apologies if I have), but the 1960 MVP Dick Groat and the 1962 MVP Maury Wills have remarkably similar career numbers. Groat: 8179 PA; .330 OBP,… Read more »
Hartvig
Guest

I don’t know that I’ve ever heard a good explanation of why Broglio’s career went south after the trade. Was there an injury? Was he a fly ball pitcher ill suited for Wrigley? Something else? If I ever knew I have forgotten.

Hartvig
Guest

And a quick Google search answers my own question. From a book called Major League Careers Cut Short:

“In 1961 he had taken 20 cortisone shots in his shoulder.”

oneblankspace
Guest

During his time in St Louis, Broglio had an ERA of 3.31 in night games and 3.56 in day games. Looking only at 1959-62 and that part of 1964 before the trade, it was 3.19 at night and 4.13 in the day.

He finished his career 3.48 in day games and 4.02 at night.

(Splits from Retrosheet)

Dr. Doom
Guest

I just realized that saying “midnight Wednesday” might not have been clear, so I’ll still take ballots today, if anyone’s interested in supplying one today!

--bill
Guest

I did think “midnight Wednesday” meant midnight tonight!
here’s my vote:
1. Willie Mays
2. Frank Robinson
3. Maury Wills
4. Tommie Davis
5. Henry Aaron
6. Bob Purkey
7. Willie Davis
8. Don Drysdale
9. Turk Farrell
10. Stan Musial

Dr. Doom
Guest
Hey everyone! Here are your results. As always, points are listed, first place votes in parentheses. These are your top 10 in the 15 recorded ballots: Willie Mays – 195 (12) Frank Robinson – 140 (2) Hank Aaron – 113 Tommy Davis – 104 (1) Maury Wills – 69 Johnny Callison – 43 Bob Purkey – 43 Don Drysdale – 37 Felipe Alou – 31 Turk Farrell – 21 Yet again, Willie Mays is the winner. HHS winners credit Mays with 2 MVPs, which is the same number he won in real life. So if you substitute our voting for… Read more »
Hartvig
Guest

Five right fielders getting MVP votes (altho Aaron played more games in center than he did in right that season) plus Clemente, Richie Ashburn & George Altman all made the All-Star team that year. Clemente also got MVP votes in the BBWAA MVP voting.

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