The Right Stuff
The 1960s featured one of the best collections of right fielders of all time. Lethal in the batter’s box and dominating in the field, the players listed here strung together one productive season after another during the 1960s.
Here’s my rundown of the top 10 right fielders of the 1960s.
1. Hank Aaron - Hank Aaron’s performance in the 1960s was as outstanding and consistent as any period in his career. From 1960 to 1969, he led the major leagues twice in runs scored and 3 times in RBIs. He hit over .300 in 8 different seasons during the decade, and scored at least 100 runs in 9 out of the 10 years. Aaron retired with more home runs (755), RBIs (2,297), extra-base hits (1,477) and total bases (6,856) than anyone else who ever played the game – including Babe Ruth.
2. Roberto Clemente - It was during the 1960s that Roberto Clemente emerged as one of the game’s premier players. Clemente won his first batting title in 1961 with a .351 average. He repeated as National League batting champion in 1964 (.339), 1965 (.329) and 1967 (.357), when he also led the majors with 209 hits. Never considered a power hitter, Clemente’s highest single-season home run total came in 1966 when he belted 29 home runs and drove in 119 runs. He was voted National League Most Valuable Player that year.
3. Frank Robinson - By the beginning of the 1960s, Frank Robinson was already a star. In 1961, he batted .323 with 37 home runs and 124 RBIs to win the National League Most Valuable Player. In 1962, his offensive numbers were even better: 39 home runs, 136 RBIs and a .342 batting average. He also led the major leagues in runs (134), doubles (51), and slugging percentage (.624) that year. Following his trade to the Baltimore Orioles. Robinson had a monster year in 1966, winning the American League Triple Crown with a .316 batting average, 49 home runs (tops in the majors) and 122 RBIs for his second MVP, the first player to win that award in both leagues.
4. Roger Maris - Roger Maris will always be known as the man who broke Babe Ruth’s single-season home run record. A dead-pull hitter, Maris launched 39 home runs in 1960, batting .283 and leading the American League in RBIs (112) and slugging percentage (.581). His performance earned him the American League Most Valuable Player award. Beyond his 61 home runs in 1961, Maris led the majors in runs (132 – tied with Mantle), RBIs (142) and total bases (366). That performance earned him his second MVP. In 1962, he belted “only” 33 home runs with 100 RBIs.
5. Al Kaline – Al Kaline’s 20-year career with the Detroit Tigers consisted of steady productivity punctuated with flashes of brilliance. During the 1960s, you could count on Kaline for 20+ home runs, 80+ RBIs and a batting average around .300 year in and year out. His best season during the 1960s came in 1963, when he batted .312 with 27 home runs and 101 RBIs. A superb outfielder, Kaline won 7 consecutive Gold Gloves from 1961 to 1967, and earned 10 overall in his career.
6. Tony Oliva – Tony Oliva’s impact on the American League was immediate. His outstanding rookie year of 1964 saw Oliva lead the American League in 5 different offensive categories: hits (217), runs (109), doubles (43), total bases (374) and batting average (.323). Oliva followed his great debut season by repeating as batting champion in 1965 with a .321 average. He also led the league again in hits, as he would do 2 more times in his career. Oliva won his third batting title in 1971, with a career-best .337 average.
7. Tony Conigliaro – Tony Conigliaro was signed in 1962 by the Boston Red Sox at age 17. Two years later, as Boston’s starting right fielder, he hit .290 with 54 RBIs. He also set major league records for a teenager with 24 home runs and a .530 slugging average. In 1965, his 32 home runs were tops in the American League. He followed in 1966 with 28 home runs and 93 RBIs. By mid-August of 1967, he already had 20 home runs and 67 RBIs when he was struck in the face by a pitched ball. Because of persisting problems with his vision, Conigliaro didn’t play again until his “Comeback Player of the Year” season in 1969, when he hit 20 home runs with 82 RBIs.
8. Rusty Staub - Rusty Staub played outfield and first base for the Houston Astros and Montreal Expos. Staub was a consistent, though not overpowering, hitter. His best year for the Astros was 1967 when he hit .333 and led the majors with 44 doubles. Traded to Montreal in 1969, Staub hit .302 for the Expos that year. He was a .279 lifetime hitter over a 23-year career, collecting 2,716 hits.
9. Johnny Callison – Throughout the 1960s, Johnny Callison was a steady performer for the Philadelphia Phillies at bat and in right field. His best season was 1964, when he hit .274 with 31 home runs and 104 RBIs, finishing second in the MVP balloting that year. He followed up in 1965 with 32 home runs and 101 RBIs, leading the league in triples with 16. His 40 doubles in 1966 were a league best. Callison also twice led the National League in outfielder assists.
10. Bob Allison – A Minnesota Twins outfielder, Bob Allison hit 256 home runs in a 13-year major league career. In 1963, he led the American League in runs scored with 99. Between 1961 and 1964, he averaged 31 home runs and 96 RBIs per season.