Maury Wills, 1962
Stats: .299/.347/.373/.720, 6 HR, 48 RBI, 208 H, 130 R, 104 SB, 99 OPS+, .326 wOBA, 103 wRC+
Awards: MVP, All-Star, Gold Glove
Baseball Reference WAR: 6.0
FanGraphs WAR: 5.3
Combined WAR: 5.65
We kicked off our countdown with an MVP-winning season from a Dodger, it’s time to talk about another. There have been 14 different seasons in which a Dodger took home the Most Valuable Player award, and today we’ll be talking about the one who did it nearly 60 years ago, Maury Wills.
In 1962, Wills led baseball in games played (165) and at-bats (695). He also led the league with.... 104 stolen bases.
I’m pretty sure most MLB teams don’t even steal 100 games a season anymore. Wills stole 104 in one year! At the time, it was the most stolen bases in a single season for the modern-era. Currently, he sits at seventh most all-time.
“He was our catalyst on the team,” Tommy Davis said to Dodger Insider. “He changed the whole way of pitching. He changed the whole game. When he got on base he could hurt you. If you get on base early like Maury did, our pitcher can try more things because he’s ahead. He affected our pitching.”
Wills stole a base in 69 games that season. He stole two bases in 20 games, three bases in six games, and even had a game in which he stole four bases on September 7 against the Pirates.
Though he essentially got it done at the plate all season, it wasn’t really until the middle of June when he picked things up and became one of the best hitters that year. Entering June 19, Wills was hitting only .266 with a .649 OPS. Through the first 69 games, he had 36 stolen bases.
From June 19 through the end of the season, Wills hit .323 with an OPS of .771. In those 96 games, he stole a total of 68 bases.
Even if you take away his stolen bases, Wills’ season with LA was still an all-time great. He’s one of three players in team history to finish a season with at least 200 hits and 130 runs scored. The others were Babe Herman in 1930 and Willie Keeler in 1899.
Oh, he had some pretty nice singing chops, too.