1969 Leaders & Numbers

With expansion diluting major league talent, the best players got better— though pitchers struggled to readjust to a tightened strike zone that led to a 22% jump in walks. Ask Willie McCovey, who received a then-record number of intentional walks as hurlers gave him the proper respect that seemed lacking from the fans and media. Ask Harmon Killebrew, whose usually marginal batting average was offset with a slew of walks that gave him a higher on-base percentage than first-time AL batting champ (and fellow Twin) Rod Carew. Reggie Jackson exploded onto the scene by hammering 37 homers before the all-star break, while Rico Petrocelli became the first AL shortstop to belt 40. Rusty Staub became an instant folk hero in Montreal, where the redhead was given the sobriquet Le Grand Orange. Ron Santo, playing with diabetes, completed one of the most productively consistent decades any third baseman can ever boast. Juan Marichal’s continued greatness finally nabbed him his one and only ERA title. Mike Cuellar and Denny McLain tied for the AL Cy Young Award, the first-ever knot at the top. Reigning NL Cy recipient Bob Gibson was no longer superhuman as he fumed over the loss of the high strike, but his ERA was still the majors’ third best. Phil Niekro’s knuckleball continued to improve, though the joke in Atlanta was that it was beleaguered Brave catchers who needed four days off between his starts.

The Ten Best National League Hitters, 1969
Name Team G BA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB IB HB SB CS GD
1. Willie McCovey San Francisco 149 .320 491 101 157 26 2 45 126 76 45 4 0 0 11
2. Jim Wynn Houston 149 .269 495 113 133 17 1 33 87 134 14 3 23 7 5
3. Hank Aaron Atlanta 147 .300 547 100 164 30 3 44 97 68 19 2 9 10 14
4. Pete Rose Cincinnati 156 .348 627 120 218 33 11 16 82 70 18 5 7 10 13
5. Bobby Bonds San Francisco 158 .259 622 120 161 25 6 32 90 78 3 10 45 4 9
6. Tony Perez Cincinnati 160 .294 629 103 185 31 2 37 122 56 7 2 4 2 20
7. Richie Allen Philadelphia 118 .288 438 79 126 23 2 32 89 54 10 0 9 3 10
8. Willie Stargell Pittsburgh 145 .307 522 89 160 31 6 29 92 47 14 6 1 0 10
9. Roberto Clemente Pittsburgh 138 .345 507 87 175 20 12 19 91 40 16 3 4 1 19
10. Rusty Staub Montreal 158 .302 549 89 166 26 5 29 79 99 11 9 3 4 13
The Ten Best American League Hitters, 1969
Name Team G BA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB IB HB SB CS GD
1. Reggie Jackson Oakland 152 .275 549 123 151 36 3 47 118 94 20 12 13 5 8
2. Harmon Killebrew Minnesota 162 .276 555 106 153 20 2 49 140 125 20 5 8 2 16
3. Frank Robinson Baltimore 148 .308 539 111 166 19 5 32 100 77 11 13 9 3 12
4. Frank Howard Washington 161 .296 592 111 175 17 2 48 111 83 19 5 1 0 29
5. Rico Petrocelli Boston 154 .297 535 92 159 32 2 40 97 85 13 1 3 5 12
6. Sal Bando Oakland 162 .281 609 106 171 25 3 31 113 106 5 11 1 4 12
7. Boog Powell Baltimore 152 .304 533 83 162 25 0 37 121 62 10 1 1 1 18
8. Mike Epstein Washington 131 .278 403 73 112 18 1 30 85 75 10 10 2 5 8
9. Carl Yastrzemski Boston 162 .255 603 96 154 28 2 40 111 92 9 1 15 7 14
10. Tony Oliva Minnesota 153 .309 637 97 197 39 4 24 101 33 12 3 10 13 10
The Ten Best National League Pitchers, 1969
Name Team ERA W L PCT SV BS G GS IP TB ER BB IB WP HB BK SB CS GD
1. Juan Marichal San Francisco 2.10 21 11 .656 0 0 37 36 299.2 322 70 47 7 5 6 2 15 15 16
2. Bob Gibson St. Louis 2.18 20 13 .606 0 0 35 35 314 330 76 88 7 4 10 2 16 7 18
3. Bill Singer Los Angeles 2.34 20 12 .625 1 0 41 40 315.2 364 82 70 4 9 10 0 7 7 13
4. Larry Dierker Houston 2.33 20 13 .606 0 0 39 37 305.1 355 79 66 6 9 1 0 9 10 24
5. Tom Seaver New York 2.21 25 7 .781 0 0 36 35 273.1 323 67 73 9 8 7 1 7 4 18
6. Claude Osteen Los Angeles 2.66 20 15 .571 0 0 41 41 321 403 95 66 8 8 6 0 6 11 37
7. Jerry Koosman New York 2.28 17 9 .654 0 0 32 32 241 266 61 57 11 7 4 2 9 5 25
8. Steve Carlton St. Louis 2.17 17 11 .607 0 0 31 31 236.1 260 57 87 6 7 4 0 6 11 18
9. Bill Hands Chicago 2.49 20 14 .588 0 0 41 41 300 385 83 65 8 5 6 0 5 10 23
10. Phil Niekro Atlanta 2.56 23 13 .639 1 1 40 35 284.1 340 81 50 7 15 5 0 17 6 17
The Ten Best American League Pitchers, 1969
Name Team ERA W L PCT SV BS G GS IP TB ER BB IB WP HB BK SB CS GD
1. Mike Cuellar Baltimore 2.38 23 11 .676 0 0 39 39 290.2 304 77 72 7 3 1 2 2 6 27
2. Fritz Peterson New York 2.55 17 16 .515 0 0 37 37 272 326 77 32 11 2 3 0 3 3 28
3. Mel Stottlemyre New York 2.82 20 14 .588 0 0 39 39 303 364 95 86 11 6 6 0 7 8 39
4. Jim Perry Minnesota 2.82 20 6 .769 0 0 46 36 261.2 333 82 56 10 3 9 0 8 7 26
5. Denny McLain Detroit 2.80 24 9 .727 0 0 42 41 325 423 101 60 7 5 4 2 24 9 16
6. Dick Bosman Washington 2.19 14 5 .737 1 0 31 26 193 224 47 39 0 2 2 1 5 4 12
7. Sam McDowell Cleveland 2.94 18 14 .563 1 0 39 38 285 309 93 93 9 14 7 1 14 11 24
8. Jim Palmer Baltimore 2.34 16 4 .800 0 0 26 23 181 199 47 63 1 7 1 1 9 7 8
9. Andy Messersmith California 2.52 16 11 .593 2 0 40 33 250 252 70 93 7 16 5 1 15 5 14
10. Dave McNally Baltimore 3.22 20 7 .741 0 0 41 40 268.2 341 96 80 4 4 5 1 8 8 26

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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1969 Awards


NL MVP
Willie McCovey, San Francisco

AL MVP
Harmon Killebrew, Minnesota


NL Cy Young Award
Tom Seaver, New York

AL Cy Young Award
Denny McLain, Detroit
Mike Cuellar, Baltimore


NL Rookie of the Year
Ted Sizemore, Los Angeles

AL Rookie of the Year
Lou Piniella, Kansas City


NL Gold Glove Awards
P Bob Gibson, St. Louis
C Johnny Bench, Cincinnati
1B Wes Parker, Los Angeles
2B Felix Millan, Atlanta
3B Clete Boyer, Atlanta
SS Don Kessinger, Chicago
OF Roberto Clemente, Pittsburgh
OF Curt Flood, St. Louis
OF Pete Rose, Cincinnati


AL Gold Glove Awards
P Jim Kaat, Minnesota
C Bill Freehan, Detroit
1B Joe Pepitone, New York
2B Dave Johnson, Baltimore
3B Brooks Robinson, Baltimore
SS Mark Belanger, Baltimore
OF Paul Blair, Baltimore
OF Mickey Stanley, Detroit
OF Carl Yastrzemski, Boston