Updated: Mar 26, 2020
The 1960s featured some of the most iconic players in baseball history. The decade was especially notable for its balance of elite pitching and hitting performances, as you will see on this list. From Triple Crown winners to World Series heroes, here are the top 10 players of the sixties.
1) Frank Robinson
His name is often forgotten among contemporaries such as Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle, but no player was better than Robinson in the 1960s. The Hall of Fame outfielder started the decade on a high note, winning National League MVP with the Cincinnati Reds in 1961, hitting .323 with 37 home runs, 124 RBIs, 117 runs and 22 steals. Five years later, Robinson made history by winning American League MVP with the Baltimore Orioles, becoming the only player to win MVP in both leagues. He also won the Triple Crown that year, leading the AL with a .316 average, 49 homers and 122 RBIs. To top it all off, he was named World Series MVP for the champion Orioles. For the decade, Robinson hit .304 with 316 homers, 1,011 RBIs, a .402 on-base percentage, .560 slugging and .962 OPS. He led the league in slugging and OPS four times each.
2) Hank Aaron
Aaron is arguably the most consistent superstar in Major League history, and his talents were on full display in the 1960s. The Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves Hall of Famer led all players in the decade with 1,107 RBIs, 1,091 runs, 3,343 total bases and a .565 slugging percentage, and his 375 home runs ranked second. Aaron was an All-Star all 10 years, and showed off his impressive power-speed combination with six 20/20 seasons (20 home runs and 20 stolen bases). “Hammerin’ Hank” led the NL in total bases five times, and homers and RBIs three times each.
3) Willie Mays
Mays continued his dominance of the National League in the 1960s. A true five-tool player, the San Francisco Giants Hall of Famer hit .300 with 350 home runs, 1,003 RBIs and 1,050 runs, while also winning nine Gold Gloves in centerfield. An All-Star all 10 years, he led the NL in homers three times, including a career-best 52 in his MVP season of 1965. Mays posted an OPS of .926, and was one of only two players in the decade with over 3,000 total bases (3,050).
4) Roberto Clemente
Equally skilled at the plate as he was in the field, Clemente won four batting titles and nine Gold Gloves in the decade. The Hall of Fame outfielder was named NL MVP in 1966, hitting .317 with 29 home runs, 119 RBIs and 105 runs. The next season he led the NL with a career-high .357 average. The Pittsburgh Pirates great led all Major League players in the decade with a .328 average and 1,877 hits.
5) Sandy Koufax
Koufax had arguably the greatest five-year span by a pitcher in Major League history from 1962-66. The Hall of Fame southpaw pitched four no-hitters, won three Cy Young awards, and captured the Triple Crown of pitching three times, leading the NL in wins, ERA and strikeouts in 1963, 65 and 66. He was also named NL MVP in 1963 and World Series MVP in 63 and 65. In six World Series starts for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Koufax was 4-2 with a 0.94 ERA and 0.854 WHIP. In the regular season, he went 137-60 with a 2.36 ERA and 1.005 WHIP.
6) Brooks Robinson
The greatest defensive third baseman in the history of the game was at his best in the 1960s, winning 10 Gold Gloves and leading the AL in fielding percentage nine times and assists seven times. Not just a wiz in the field, Robinson led all AL batters with 1,692 hits in the decade. The Baltimore Orioles Hall of Famer was an All-Star all 10 seasons, and was named the 1964 AL MVP, hitting 317 with 28 home runs and 118 RBIs.
7) Bob Gibson
No pitcher in the 1960s was more feared than Gibson. The surly St. Louis Cardinals ace used his blistering fastball to strike out a Major League-high 2,071 batters in the decade. He also had 164 wins, a 2.74 ERA and 1.147 WHIP. In 1968, the Hall of Famer had a season for the ages, winning both Cy Young and MVP while leading the NL with a 1.12 ERA, 0.853 WHIP, 268 strikeouts and 13 shutouts. One of the best big-game pitchers ever, Gibson was 7-2 with a 1.89 ERA and 0.889 WHIP in nine World Series starts, winning MVP in 1964 and 67.
8) Juan Marichal
Marichal led all Major League pitchers with 191 wins, 211 complete games and 45 shutouts in the decade. Remarkably consistent, the San Francisco Giants Hall of Famer won 20 or more games six times, and posted an outstanding 2.57 ERA and 1.045 WHIP in the 1960s. Marichal was an 8-time All-Star, and led the NL in wins, shutouts, complete games, innings pitched and WHIP multiple times each during the decade.
9) Harmon Killebrew
No player hit more home runs in the 1960s than Killebrew (393). The Minnesota Twins slugger hit 40 or more homers six times, leading the AL five times. His finest season came in 1969 when he was named AL MVP, leading the league in home runs (49), RBIs (140), walks (145) and on-base (.427). The Hall of Famer was named an All-Star eight times, and finished second in RBIs (1,013) and fourth in slugging (.546) in the decade.
10) Carl Yastrzemski
The 1960s saw the emergence of one of the game’s all-time greats when Yastrzemski replaced Ted Williams in left field for the Boston Red Sox in 1961. The Hall of Famer proceeded to win three batting titles, five Gold Gloves and a Triple Crown in the decade. In his Triple Crown season of 1967, the AL MVP led the league in batting average, home runs, RBIs, hits, runs, total bases, on-base, slugging and OPS.