Monday, March 30, 2009

#87 & 88 -- RBI Leaders

NL RBI Leaders

Joe Torre 137
Willie Stargell 125
Hank Aaron 118

AL RBI Leaders

Harmon Killebrew 119
Frank Robinson 99
Reggie Smith 96

Here we start seeing more of the AL stars down the depth chart, but the NL still dominates. There were only 5 guys with 100 RBI seasons in 1971. Think about that. Last year the Mets had three 100 RBI guys and the Orioles had two 100 RBI guys. I didn't know that. Those two teams that didn't make the playoffs had as many as the entire major leagues did in 1971. At the All-Star break Josh Hamilton had 95 RBI in 2008. That would have been 1 short of getting him on this League Leader card. Times have changed.

The NL guys show the top vote getters for the MVP. Joe Torre won, but Stargell and Aaron finished right behind. The voting wasn't really very close and it's interesting to examine it. Aaron had a "consistent" year with good numbers all the way across. Stargell's power numbers were out of this world, but his batting average was "only" .295. Torre had the great batting average, led the league in RBI, but only hit 24 home runs, the same as 2008's Jayson Werth or J.J. Hardy (hardly MVP candidates). However, batting average and run production mattered more than power and being in the playoffs, so Torre won. If the voting were held today, the fact that the Pirates beat the Cardinals for the division and Stargell hit more homers would have cinched the MVP for him.

Lucky for Topps that Rusty Staub didn't finish in the top 3. I wonder how they'd have handled that since they had a licensing issue with him and didn't produce a card of him from 1971-1973?

The AL again shows the dominance of pitching. Only Killer topped 100 RBI, although Frank Robinson was at 99. However the Top 10 goes all the way down to 86. If a top player in the middle of a lineup today came up with 86 RBI, it would be seen as a down season. But there's no doubt the 11 names on the AL leaders card back were some of the league's top guys (except for Reggie Jackson, who was missing with only 80 RBI).

1 comment:

  1. Johnny Bench is a notable absence from the NL this year. He was out injured part of the season. Given that he had MVP years in '70 and '72 it's fair to expect that, if healthy, he'd of put up 100 RBIs in '71.