1960s Baseball
Celebrating the players and teams that helped make the 1960s “Baseball’s Real Golden Age.”
Top 10 Sluggers of the 1960s

 

 Aaron, Mays, Killebrew ... and some surprises.

 

Pitching and power hitting were the twin poles of excellence in 1960s baseball. The accomplishments of the best power hitters of the 1960s are all that much more amazing considering the quality of the pitching those hitters faced.

The players who make up this list claimed their right to be here based on three hitting criteria: home runs, runs batted in, and slugging percentage … all based on how each fared in these categories not just for a year or two, but for the decade. You won’t find any “flash in the pan” here. These sluggers proved their greatness against the only true test for greatness … the test of time. 

Here’s my rundown of the top 10 sluggers of the 1960s, based on their combined consistency for generating home runs, RBIs and a high slugging average.  

  1. Hank AaronHank Aaron was huge in just about every offensive category during the 1960s. He led the National League in home runs 3 times in totaling 375 homers for the decade. He drove in more runs (1,107) than any other hitter in the 1960s, leading the league 3 times in RBIs. Hammerin’ Hank also posted the highest slugging average for the decade (.565).

  2. Willie MaysWillie Mays also led the National League in home runs 3 times during the 1960s, hitting 350 dingers during the decade. He averaged 100 RBIs per season and hit for a slugging average of .559 during the 1960s.

  3. Frank Robinson – You only have to look at Frank Robinson’s power numbers for the 1960s to realize that, as a slugger, he deserves to be mentioned in the same breath with Aaron and Mays. Robinson’s 316 home runs were fourth best for the decade, and his 1,011 RBIs during the 1960s were third best among major leaguers. His .560 slugging average was second only to Aaron. He led his league in home runs, RBIs and batting only once, but accomplishing that all in 1966 earned him the Triple Crown. Neither Aaron nor Mays ever did that.

  4. Harmon Killebrew – The Minnesota Twins first baseman blasted more home runs (393) in the 1960s than any other player. Harmon Killebrew led the American League in home runs 5 times during the decade, and almost certainly would have been the fourth player in major league history to hit 400 or more home runs in a single decade had an injury not cost him more than 50 games in 1968. (The 3 players who have hit 400 home runs in a decade are Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx and Mark McGwire.) Killebrew ranked second in RBIs for the decade (1,013) and fifth in slugging percentage (.546).

  5. Willie McCovey – The 1960s were the first decade to produce 5 hitters with 300 or more homes runs, and number 5 on that list, with 300, was Willie McCovey. This accomplishment was especially impressive considering that McCovey was a part-time player for the first 4 years of the decade. In the 6 seasons that he played full-time, he led the National League in home runs 3 times. McCovey drove in “only” 821 runs during the decade, one of the hazards of batting behind Willie Mays and Orlando Cepeda.

  6. Mickey Mantle – Though age and injuries limited his offensive output compared to what he accomplished in the 1950s, Mickey Mantle’s power numbers for the 1960s were still mighty. He smacked 174 home runs from 1960 to 1964, and 256 for the decade (which, for Mantle, ended with his retirement in 1968). His .542 slugging percentage for the decade was sixth best among all 1960s hitters.

  7. Dick Allen – “Ferocious” would be the best way to describe Dick Allen’s hitting style in the 1960s. He hit 177 home runs in 6 seasons, after a tremendous 1964 rookie year when he led the major leagues in runs (125) and triples (13) while batting .318 with 201 hits, 29 home runs and 91 RBIs. In 1966, he led the National League in slugging with a .632 average. His .554 slugging average for the decade was fourth best among major league hitters.

  8. Frank Howard – It would seem to be hard to overlook any man as big as Frank Howard, though he has been frequently overlooked among 1960s sluggers. His numbers, on the other hand, confirm that he was one of the best. Howard ripped 288 home runs during the 1960s, number 6 among all hitters. He ranked eleventh in RBIs for the decade (835) and eighth with a .508 slugging average for the 1960s. He led the American league with 44 home runs in both 1968 and 1970.

  9. Orlando Cepeda – Another somewhat overlooked slugger from the 1960s (though he did make it into the Hall of Fame in 1999 – 25 years after he retired), Orlando Cepeda was consistently brutal on 1960s pitchers. His 254 home runs during the 1960s were tenth best, while his 896 RBIs during the decade put him at number 7 in that offensive category. He led the National League in home runs once and RBIs twice during the 1960s, compiling a .502 slugging average for the decade.

  10. Norm Cash – When once asked why he didn’t hit for a higher average after posting the highest single-season batting average during the 1960s (.361 in 1961), Norm Cash replied that he was paid to hit home runs, not singles. While he never led the league in home runs or RBIs, Cash was consistently among the league leaders in both categories. For the decade, Cash ranked seventh in home runs (278), and twelfth in both RBIs (830) and slugging average (.498).