SF Giants: 3 unbelievable feats from Willie Mays’ all-time great career
By Marc Delucchi
SF Giants legend Willie Mays turns 90:
Incredible feat number 3: Mays led the league in runs, hits, triples, home runs, stolen bases, walks, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and total bases in at least one season.
There was a common line that followed Ichiro Suzuki throughout his future Hall of Fame career. The longtime Seattle Mariners star led the league in hits on seven different occasions and was one of the most exciting hitters in all of pro baseball. Never a great power hitter, though; Suzuki would show flashes in batting practice and occasionally in games that led some to opine that he could have been a great power hitter if he put more emphasis on elevating the ball. Whether that’s true or not, Suzuki never hit more than 15 homers in a single season.
No one will ever have to ask if Mays could have been great at something as a hitter. Over the course of his career, he led the league in nearly every traditional counting stat (runs, hits, triples, home runs, stolen bases, total bases, etc.), advanced stat (OPS+, wRC+, WAR), and traditional rate stat (batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage). Doubles and runs batted in remain the only two standard statistics that he never led the league in. Of course, his 1903 career RBI should quiet any old head from yelling, “He doesn’t drive in runs!!!” from the back of the bleachers.
Suzuki will rightfully be a first-ballot Hall of Famer because he was an incredible hitter, base stealer, and defender. One of Mays’ longtime teammates, Willie McCovey, was a first-ballot Hall of Famer because of his power and ability to get on base. At his best, Mays did everything that Suzuki and McCovey did, and at any point during his prime, he may have been the best in MLB at every one of those things. He was multiple Hall of Famers rolled into one transcendent star on the diamond.
Arguably the greatest baseball player in MLB history, Willie Mays’ play sparked baseball fandom for so many people in the Bay Area and beyond. The entire Around the Foghorn team wish the SF Giants great a happy 90th birthday celebration. We hope to see him safely back at the ballpark sometime soon.