1961 Leaders & Numbers

The majors’ first modern expansion led to a statistical expansion for the game’s best players, feasting on diluted opposition that produced a barrelful of career years. For his incredible spike of success, Norm Cash thanked not so much expansion but a corked bat, as he would confess to using years later. Speaking of incredible, only batting in front of Mickey Mantle could allow Roger Maris to launch 61 homers with no intentional walks. With the fences brought in for Candlestick Park’s second year, Orlando Cepeda and Willie Mays put on their own friendly—and far less remembered—competition for the NL home run title. Jim Gentile, anything but with his frequent dugout tantrums, had little to pout about in his monster year. The Pirates may have struggled in defense of their world championship, but an improved Dick Stuart was not to blame. Joey Jay, for years denied a consistent spot in the Braves’ starting rotation, got one in Cincinnati and tied former teammate Warren Spahn for the NL lead in wins and shutouts (four). A well-preserved Whitey Ford finally got to pitch every fourth turn and had his best year yet. Frank Lary got the offensive support that so badly eluded him the year before. Reining in his wildness, Sandy Koufax set the NL strikeout record at 269—but that was just a small precursor of things to come. Luis Arroyo, in a sudden and all-too-brief burst of success, became the latest reliever to reset the bar on saves.

The Ten Best National League Hitters, 1961
Name Team G BA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB IB HB SB CS GD
1. Frank Robinson Cincinnati 153 .323 545 117 176 32 7 37 124 48 23 10 22 3 15
2. Willie Mays San Francisco 154 .308 572 129 176 32 3 40 123 66 15 2 18 9 14
3. Hank Aaron Milwaukee 155 .327 603 115 197 39 10 34 120 36 20 2 21 9 16
4. Orlando Cepeda San Francisco 152 .311 585 105 182 28 4 46 142 28 11 9 12 8 21
5. Ken Boyer St. Louis 153 .329 589 109 194 26 11 24 95 59 9 1 6 3 11
6. Dick Stuart Pittsburgh 138 .301 532 83 160 28 8 35 117 33 1 4 0 3 22
7. Wally Moon Los Angeles 134 .328 463 79 152 25 3 17 88 80 9 1 7 5 9
8. Eddie Mathews Milwaukee 152 .306 572 103 175 23 6 32 91 90 3 2 12 7 10
9. Vada PInson Cincinnati 154 .343 607 101 208 34 8 16 87 38 1 1 23 10 9
10. George Altman Chicago 138 .303 518 77 157 28 12 27 96 37 3 4 6 2 4
The Ten Best American League Hitters, 1961
Name Team G BA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB IB HB SB CS GD
1. Mickey Mantle New York 153 .317 514 132 163 16 6 54 128 117 9 0 12 1 2
2. Norm Cash Detroit 159 .361 535 119 193 22 8 41 132 105 19 9 11 5 16
3. Jim Gentile Baltimore 148 .302 486 96 147 25 2 46 141 91 5 11 1 1 12
4. Rocky Colavito Detroit 163 .290 583 129 169 30 2 45 140 111 2 2 1 2 14
5. Roger Maris New York 161 .269 590 132 159 16 4 61 142 94 0 7 0 0 16
6. Harmon Killebrew Minnesota 150 .288 541 94 156 20 7 46 122 101 6 3 1 2 11
7. Al Kaline Detroit 153 .324 586 116 190 41 7 19 82 64 2 4 14 1 16
8. Roy Sievers Chicago 141 .295 492 76 145 26 6 27 92 57 4 6 1 0 11
9. Norm Siebern Kansas City 153 .296 560 68 166 36 5 18 98 79 3 1 2 4 4
10. Tito Francona Cleveland 155 .301 592 87 178 30 8 16 85 53 3 4 2 1 11
The Ten Best National League Pitchers, 1961
Name Team ERA W L PCT SV G GS IP TB ER BB IB WP HB BK SB CS GD
1. Warren Spahn Milwaukee 3.02 21 13 .618 0 38 34 262.2 360 88 63 1 3 3 0 2 4 30
2. Jim O'Toole Cincinnati 3.10 19 9 .679 2 39 35 252.2 329 87 86 7 6 3 2 4 8 19
3. Sandy Koufax Los Angeles 3.52 18 13 .581 1 42 35 255.2 336 100 90 6 12 3 2 6 7 14
4. Joey Jay Cincinnati 3.53 21 10 .677 0 34 34 247.1 330 97 91 1 9 5 0 16 5 15
5. Joe Gibbon Pittsburgh 3.32 13 10 .565 0 30 29 195.1 267 72 53 4 3 4 0 6 3 16
6. Don Cardwell Chicago 3.82 15 14 .517 0 39 38 259.1 349 110 88 0 6 10 2 13 4 19
7. Stu Miller San Francisco 2.66 14 5 .737 17 63 0 122 136 36 26 11 0 1 0 11 5 6
8. Curt Simmons St. Louis 3.13 9 10 .474 0 30 29 195.2 287 68 58 6 2 4 0 9 9 16
9. Bob Gibson St. Louis 3.24 13 12 .520 1 35 27 211.1 274 76 112 7 8 6 1 9 6 22
10. Lew Burdette Milwaukee 4.00 18 11 .621 0 40 36 272.1 458 121 30 3 1 3 1 9 7 22
The Ten Best American League Pitchers, 1961
Name Team ERA W L PCT SV G GS IP TB ER BB IB WP HB BK SB CS GD
1. Whitey Ford New York 3.21 25 4 .862 0 39 39 283 366 101 89 3 8 1 0 0 7 28
2. Steve Barber Baltimore 3.33 18 12 .600 1 37 34 248.1 262 92 126 4 9 2 1 6 6 38
3. Frank Lary Detroit 3.24 23 9 .719 0 36 36 275.1 373 99 64 2 6 6 0 5 11 25
4. Bill Stafford New York 2.68 14 9 .609 2 36 25 195 238 58 55 4 1 5 0 4 6 22
5. Luis Arroyo New York 2.19 15 5 .750 29 65 0 119 115 29 41 8 4 3 0 0 1 17
6. Dick Donovan Washington 2.40 10 10 .500 0 23 22 168.2 212 45 32 3 9 3 0 15 5 14
7. Jim Bunning Detroit 3.19 17 11 .607 1 38 37 268.1 354 95 68 3 2 9 0 13 11 18
8. Ralph Terry New York 3.15 16 3 .842 0 31 27 188.1 255 66 42 0 0 1 0 9 6 13
9. Hal Brown Baltimore 3.19 10 6 .625 1 27 23 166.2 224 59 33 0 3 1 0 3 3 14
10. Don Mossi Detroit 2.96 15 7 .682 1 35 34 240.1 368 79 44 3 1 0 1 2 5 21

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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1961 Awards


NL MVP
Frank Robinson, Cincinnati

AL MVP
Roger Maris, New York


Cy Young Award
Whitey Ford, New York


NL Rookie of the Year
Billy Williams, Chicago

AL Rookie of the Year
Don Schwall, Boston


NL Gold Glove Awards
P Bobby Shantz, Pittsburgh
C Johnny Roseboro, Los Angeles
1B Bill White, St. Louis
2B Bill Mazeroski, Pittsburgh
3B Ken Boyer, St. Louis
SS Maury Wills, Los Angeles
OF Roberto Clemente, Pittsburgh
OF Willie Mays, San Francisco
OF Vada Pinson, Cincinnati


AL Gold Glove Awards
P Frank Lary, Detroit
C Earl Battey, Minnesota
1B Vic Power, Cleveland
2B Bobby Richardson, New York
3B Brooks Robinson, Baltimore
SS Luis Aparicio, Chicago
OF Al Kaline, Detroit
OF Jim Landis, Chicago
OF Jimmy Piersall, Cleveland