Tag Archives: Wills

Wills, 1962 NL MVP, passes away at the age of 89.

Maury Wills, who won the 1962 NL MVP Award after a season in which he set a then-record of 104 SB, has passed away at the age of 89. He would have turned 90 on October 2.

Wills, a SS who sometimes played 3B, played for the Dodgers (1959-1966), Pirates (1967-1968), Expos (1969) and back with the Dodgers (1969-1972). He played for 3 WS Champs (1959, 1963 and 1965) and another NL pennant winner (1966). He was a 7x All-Star (in 5 years. There were 2 All-Star Games in 1961 and 1962) who won 2 Gold Glove Awards. He got MVP consideration 8x, and besides winning it in 1962, finished 9th in 1961, 3rd in 1965 (behind Willie Mays and Sandy Koufax) and 6th at the age of 38 in 1971.

In 1962, he hit .299-6-48 and set a then MLB record of 104 SB while leading the NL with 10 triples. In 1965, he hit .286-0-33, and led the majors with 94 SB. He led the NL is SB each season from 1960-1965.

His 162 game average was .281-2-38, 49 SB, OPS+ 88. He had 2134 hits in his career, and 586 SB despite his first MLB game not coming until he was 26 years old.

In 21 WS games, he hit .244-0-4 with 6 SB.

Later he briefly managed the Seattle Mariners. As the second of two managers in 1980, he went 20-38 as Seattle finished 7th and last in the AL West. He was fired after starting the 1981 season 6-18. Seattle finished that first half of the strike season sixth. Total 26-56 in 82 games as a manager.

His son, Bump Wills, spent six years in the majors as a 2B.

Leading off. Josh Donaldson?

When you think of a leadoff hitter, images of Rickey Henderson, Mickey Rivers, Willie Randolph, or a Lou Brock or Maury Wills come to mind. Speedy guys who get on and steal bases.

Even guys like Horace Clarke and Bobby Richardson (and Richardson was NOT a good choice for a leadoff hitter. He hit .266 in his career, never walked, had an OBP of just .299, and even in 1961, with Maris and Mantle hitting 115 HR behind him, only scored 80 runs that year).

But the Yankees’ leadoff hitter this year could be … Josh Donaldson.

We’ll see how it works out. It seems unconventional, but then, for most of the 1950s, the Yankees’ leadoff hitter was Hank Bauer, and Bauer didn’t hit “the mold” either. And LeMahieu isn’t the speed demon, but with averages over .300 in 2019 and 2020, did fine there as far as getting on base for the big guys.

Newly acquired Jose Trevino will be the backup catcher, as the Yankees sent down the trio of Max McDowell, Rob Brantly and David Freitas. Ben Rortvedt is still out with an oblique injury.

WS Game 4. SF evens it up.

Hunter Pence had 3 hits and 3 RBI, and the Giants’ bullpen tossed 6 1/3 innings of scoreless relief after starter Ryan Vogelsong was knocked out in the third. Down 4-1 after 2 1/2, San Francisco came back to win 11-4 and even the World Series at two games apiece with Game 5 Sunday night.

Pablo Sandoval, seeking to become only the fourth player to win two WS MVPs in his career (Koufax, Gibson, Reggie Jackson; Sandoval won it in 2012), chipped in with two hits and two rbi.

I find it funny that there was talk over the Internet yesterday about the Giants possibly watering down the basepaths in order to slow down Kansas City’s running game. Heck, they did it in 1962 to try to slow down Maury Wills. It isn’t new… especially in San Francisco.

Gardner compared to…

The Brett Gardner bashing that I see on various sights is amazing. Gardner, 26, has 150 games and 425 AB under his belt—about the equivalent of one season. .256-3-39 with 39 SB in 45 attempts.

He won’t hit for power. Speed and defense are his game.

Yankees fans, when looking at LF for 2010, are a bit spoiled. Of course we’d all like to see JD’s .282-24-82 and 12 for 12 in SB there. Maybe from JD himself, although it doesn’t look like it will happen.

What some Yankees fans seem to forget is the huge advantage that the Yanks have at other positions. For example:

.285-22-81; .320-25-85 and .334-18-66 with 30 SB.

Now, without looking, what positions do those numbers come from? They look like the numbers of a team’s (pick a team) LF, do they not?

But those were the numbers of Posada (C), Cano (2B) and Jeter (SS). Positions where the Yanks usually have a huge offensive advantage over their opponent. Compare Jeter’s numbers to that of say, Boston’s SS this year. I mean, Nick Green? Julio Lugo? Pedroia was nice, .296-15-72, OPS+110 with 20 SB, but Robbie Cano still had an OPS+ of 129 despite his lack of speed (5 SB).

So the Yanks have a guy in LF who may go .270-5-45 with 45 SB. Ok, SS numbers in LF. But then they have LF numbers at 2B and SS, not to mention a catcher (I know, you’ve heard this before in my posts) putting up unprecedented numbers for his age. Posada’s offense at catcher is a huge advantage for the Yankees. Name me other catchers (besides Mauer) in the AL putting up 20/80?

Let’s look at Gardner in 2009. A bit ragged but still .270. 108 games, 248 AB. Meaning PR/Def. replacement in many of those games. Now let’s double the numbers and give him 496 at bats (Swisher, who played in 150 games and who batted 8th most of the time, had 498 AB). Doubling Gardner’s numbers give him .270-6-46 with 52 SB. OPS+ 93. He’d have 12 triples.

Jacoby Ellsbury, just a few weeks younger than Gardner, hit .301-8-60 with a MLB leading 70 SB in 2009. He led the AL with 10 triples. OPS+ 97.

So… .301-8-60-70, OPS+ 97 vs.
        .270-6-46-52, OPS+ 93

Granted Gardner comes in second, but the difference isn’t that bad. If Gardner can pick it up a bit, who knows.

In 2008, Ellsbury hit .280-9-47 with 50 SB. He led the AL in SB. His OPS+ was just 87. Would Yankees fans be happy with Gardner if Gardner equalled Ellsbury’s 2008? (I know BG wouldn’t have the 9 HR, but BA, RBI, SB all being equal?)

Sometimes fans forget speed and defense. They concentrate solely on the OPS+, RBI, HR, … but as I’ve said many times, we are not putting together a beer league softball team. You need speed and defense. You have to have a defense to help out your pitchers. Granted (and give Cashman credit) the Yanks have power arms (Vazquez, CC, Mo, AJ, Joba, Hughes, Robertson) to get the K. The more K’s, the less you have to rely on your defense. But hey, what pitcher wouldn’t want a good defense behind him? Whether it was Maz at 2B, Ozzie at SS, Mays in CF, Mattingly or Hernandez at 1B—pitchers appreciate the help.

Let me give some numbers. Granted it’s a different era from the offensively juiced numbers of today, but…

1977. .274-4-40, 13 SB, OPS+ 101; .247-8-49, 1 SB, OPS+ 79
1978  .279-3-42, 36 SB, OPS+ 112; .243-5-40, 3 SB, OPS+ 72

You may have guessed who they are. Randolph (higher OPS numbers) and Dent. Granted Gardner is an OF and Bucky was a SS, but compare Gardner to Bucky’s numbers. Can you imagine the boos Gardner would get if he put up Dent’s numbers (of course BG has more speed than Bucky had). But what if Gardner equals say, Randoph’s 1978? 

How about these?

1961 .261-3-49, 9 SB (2nd on team); OPS+ 67; .276-8-46-1 sb; OPS+ 90

Richardson and Kubek in 1961. Would you be happy if Gardner put up those numbers, albeit with say, 35-40 SB as opposed to what Richardson and Kubek did?

How about this one?

1996    .311-2-41, 1 SB, OPS+ 98

Yup. Wade Boggs. People forget that he, like Gardner, wasn’t a run-producer and unlike Gardner, had no speed. Gardner may not hit .311, but would you take the 2 HR, 41 RBI and far more SB? 

Let’s look at someone else. I’ll omit his most famous year for now. Think Gardner, if he develops, could match these numbers? BTW, this guy was a late bloomer, 28 years old in 1960.

1960 .295-0-27, 50 SB (led league) OPS+ 81. 17th in MVP voting.
1961 .282-1-31, 35 SB (led league) OPS+ 78    9th in MVP voting.
1963 .302-0-34, 40 SB (led league) OPS+ 111 17th in MVP voting.
1965 .286-0-33, 94 SB (led league) OPS+ 93     3rd in MVP voting.
1969 .274-4-47, 40 SB                    OPS+ 94   11th in MVP voting.

Did you guess him? Look at the low OPS+ numbers. Let’s just say Gardner does a 90-95 as compared to the guy above. RBI, Gardner may have more than the guy above because of the better lineup Gardner is in. Let’s hope Gardner can hit .274-.302. Could Gardner match the above’s 1969?

Did you guess the guy above? How about his most famous year:

1962 .299-6-48, 104 SB; OPS+ 100; MVP.

It’s Maury Wills. Those Dodger teams had little offense and relied on the speed of a Wills and Willie Davis to go with the pitching of Koufax and Drysdale.

I don’t know how good Gardner can be. None of us do. But the Yanks already get LF-type production from other areas of the diamond that are unexpected (C, 2B, SS). If Gardner can equal a Boggs 1996 (albeit with more speed), or a Wills’ 1969, would you take it?

Say Gardner is a platoon LF in 2010. Would this be ok by you?

.275-3-45, 35-40 SB.

…and remember, we are talking about the #9 hitter here.   

I forget where I saw it, but here is a good comparison of what kind of stats we would hope Gardner could put up. Similar type of player.