1959 Leaders & Numbers

For Hank Aaron, 400 was the magic number, flirting with .400 through June and ending the year as the last NL player until 1997 to collect over 400 total bases. Sharp-hitting Harvey Kuenn nabbed his lone batting crown, and barely; Tito Francona (.363) came within 34 plate appearances of qualifying. One side benefit of the Braves’ tiebreaker loss to the Dodgers was that it gave Eddie Mathews the major league home run title by one over Ernie Banks. Vada Pinson played a couple games too many the year before to qualify for the 1959 Rookie of the Year award; otherwise, he would have been a shoo-in. Jackie Jensen did well to emulate his 1958 MVP figures, but the frequent flier mileage was about to get the most of the aviophobic star. Eddie Yost, a walkathon all by himself with his special gift for drawing walks, added a bit of pop with a career-high 21 homers. Lost in the coming firestorm over Rocky Colavito’s imminent departure from Cleveland was the arrival of the Tribe’s next best thing on the mound, Jim Perry. The two pitchers who led their respective leagues in wins during the 1950s—Warren Spahn (202) and Early Wynn (188)—appropriately wound up the decade as, once again, season leaders. Perhaps call Sad Sam Jones Mad Sam, his stellar year made bittersweet with two no-hitters stopped short of nine innings—one by a bad-hop single, the other by rain. Don Mossi and Hoyt Wilhelm, two lifelong relievers, easily proved they could make it as starters; Wilhelm’s ERA title gave him one in each league.

The Ten Best National League Hitters, 1959
Name Team G BA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB IB HB SB CS GD
1. Hank Aaron Milwaukee 154 .355 629 116 223 46 7 39 123 34 17 4 8 0 19
2. Willie Mays San Francisco 151 .313 575 125 180 43 5 34 104 56 9 2 27 4 11
3. Eddie Mathews Milwaukee 148 .306 594 118 182 16 8 46 114 78 2 3 2 1 6
4. Frank Robinson Cincinnati 146 .311 540 106 168 31 4 36 125 60 9 8 18 8 16
5. Ernie Banks Chicago 155 .304 589 97 179 25 6 45 143 44 20 7 2 4 18
6. Vada Pinson Cincinnati 154 .316 648 131 205 47 9 20 84 52 3 3 21 6 9
7. Orlando Cepeda San Francisco 151 .317 605 92 192 35 4 27 105 23 10 5 23 9 10
8. Ken Boyer St. Louis 149 .309 563 86 174 18 5 28 94 60 7 2 12 6 7
9. Wally Moon Los Angeles 145 .302 543 93 164 26 11 19 74 80 1 3 15 6 9
10. Johnny Temple Cincinnati 149 .311 598 102 186 35 6 8 67 70 2 2 14 3 11
The Ten Best American League Hitters, 1959
Name Team G BA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB IB HB SB CS GD
1. Al Kaline Detroit 136 .327 511 86 167 19 2 27 94 60 12 4 10 4 11
2. Jackie Jensen Boston 148 .277 535 101 148 31 0 28 112 85 3 0 20 5 20
3. Mickey Mantle New York 144 .285 541 104 154 23 4 31 75 87 6 2 21 3 7
4. Harvey Kuenn Detroit 136 .353 561 99 198 42 7 9 71 47 1 1 7 2 6
5. Eddie Yost Detroit 148 .278 521 115 145 19 0 21 61 134 1 12 9 2 6
6. Harmon Killebrew Washington 153 .242 546 98 132 20 2 42 105 89 1 7 3 2 12
7. Rocky Colavito Cleveland 154 .257 588 90 151 24 0 42 111 63 8 2 3 3 13
8. Tito Francona Cleveland 122 .363 399 68 145 17 2 20 79 32 3 3 2 0 11
9. Minnie Minoso Cleveland 148 .302 570 92 172 32 0 21 92 52 2 17 8 10 11
10. Pete Runnels Boston 147 .314 560 95 176 36 6 6 57 94 1 1 6 5 17
The Ten Best National League Pitchers, 1959
Name Team ERA W L PCT SV G GS IP TB ER BB IB WP HB BK SB CS GD
1. Warren Spahn Milwaukee 2.96 21 15 .583 0 40 36 292 406 96 62 8 2 1 0 1 2 18
2. Sad Sam Jones San Francisco 2.83 21 15 .583 4 50 35 270.2 337 85 104 5 5 8 0 10 9 16
3. Johnny Antonelli San Francisco 3.10 19 10 .655 1 40 38 282 382 97 72 4 1 3 0 3 6 23
4. Vern Law Pittsburgh 2.98 18 9 .667 0 34 33 266 376 88 42 11 5 2 0 4 1 23
5. Roger Craig Los Angeles 2.06 11 5 .688 0 29 17 152.1 177 35 42 3 2 1 0 2 4 18
6. Larry Jackson St. Louis 3.30 14 13 .519 0 40 37 256 358 94 61 3 8 4 0 8 5 22
7. Gene Conley Philadelphia 3.00 12 7 .632 1 25 22 180 240 60 38 4 3 2 0 9 3 14
8. Lew Burdette Milwaukee 4.07 21 15 .583 1 41 39 289.2 484 131 35 3 2 1 0 3 6 28
9. Don Drysdale Los Angeles 3.46 17 13 .567 2 44 36 270.2 363 104 84 9 4 18 2 3 4 16
10. Roy Face Pittsburgh 2.70 18 1 .947 10 57 0 93.1 118 28 17 8 4 1 0 4 4 8
The Ten Best American League Pitchers, 1959
Name Team ERA W L PCT SV G GS IP TB ER BB IB WP HB BK SB CS GD
1. Bob Shaw Chicago 2.69 18 6 .750 3 47 26 230.2 299 69 49 5 3 6 0 5 5 19
2. Hoyt Wilhelm Baltimore 2.19 15 11 .577 0 32 27 226 244 55 74 3 5 10 0 12 13 27
3. Camilo Pascual Washington 2.64 17 10 .630 0 32 30 238.2 284 70 62 7 5 3 3 16 5 18
4. Early Wynn Chicago 3.17 22 10 .688 0 37 37 255.2 297 90 114 5 5 9 0 14 8 18
5. Art Ditmar New York 2.90 13 9 .591 1 38 25 202 239 65 48 4 0 8 2 3 6 17
6. Jim Perry Cleveland 2.65 12 10 .545 4 44 13 153 166 45 48 7 2 2 1 2 13 12
7. Whitey Ford New York 3.04 16 10 .615 1 35 29 204 262 69 84 5 5 1 1 0 6 27
8. Milt Pappas Baltimore 3.27 15 9 .625 3 33 27 209.1 243 76 73 2 14 4 1 8 5 22
9. Don Mossi Detroit 3.36 17 9 .654 0 34 30 228 317 85 49 0 2 3 1 4 4 19
10. Jerry Walker Baltimore 2.92 11 10 .524 4 30 22 182 233 59 43 9 2 3 1 2 5 22

Brown type indicates league leader.
Notes: Walks (BB) do not include intentional walks (IB). For pitchers, caught stealing (CS) also includes pickoffs.
How does This Great Game determine the best hitters and pitchers? Find out here.


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1959 Awards


NL MVP
Ernie Banks, Chicago

AL MVP
Nellie Fox, Chicago


Cy Young Award
Early Wynn, Chicago


NL Rookie of the Year
Willie McCovey, San Francisco

AL Rookie of the Year
Bob Allison, Washington


NL Gold Glove Awards
P Harvey Haddix, Pittsburgh
C Del Crandall, Milwaukee
1B Gil Hodges, Los Angeles
2B Charlie Neal, Los Angeles
3B Ken Boyer, St. Louis
SS Roy McMillan, Cincinnati
OF Jackie Brandt, San Francisco
OF Willie Mays, San Francisco
OF Hank Aaron, Milwaukee


AL Gold Glove Awards
P Bobby Shantz, New York
C Sherm Lollar, Chicago
1B Vic Power, Cleveland
2B Nellie Fox, Chicago
3B Frank Malzone, Boston
SS Luis Aparicio, Chicago
OF Minnie Minoso, Cleveland
OF Al Kaline, Detroit
OF Jackie Jensen, Boston