Tuesday, September 28, 2010

National League Batting Leaders (#240, 242, 244)

Program note: Please check out my new 1970 Topps Baseball card blog, which I launched today.

Here are the 1967 cards showing the previous season's National League leaders in batting average, RBI, and home runs. The Braves are well-represented with 4 of the 9 slots, followed to a lesser degree by the Phillies and Pirates. Hank Aaron, who at this time was still somewhat in the shadow of Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle, was quietly marching toward the career home run record. Phillies' 3rd baseman Richie Allen also appears on 2 cards, and finished 4th in batting (although 25 points behind the leader). 1966 was Allen's last superb season in Philadelphia, as injuries, defensive liabilities, and his general dissatisfaction with the Phillies' management and fan base kicked into high gear in 1967.

The Alou brothers manned the top two spots in batting average, followed by Felipe's teammate, left fielder Rico Carty. Carty would miss the entire 1968 season with tuberculosis, but came back strong in 1969. Rico continued his fine play into 1970, earning a starting all-star berth as a write-in candidate.

Aaron was top dog in RBI and home runs, as Willie Mays began to fade, and Willie McCovey and Orlando Cepeda were not yet having their breakout seasons. Looking at the card back, we see that the Braves, Pirates, and Phillies each had another player above 100 RBI, as did the Giants' Mays.

Aaron and Allen each had 40+ homers, and Willie Mays (unlike his Yankees counterpart Mickey Mantle) was still cranking out home runs in the upper-30s. The Braves were also well-fortified with other power hitters Joe Torre and Felipe Alou, as were the Giants with Willie McCovey and Jim Ray Hart.