1970s Rickey Awards

I was reading the Old STATS Baseball Scorecards and they had a leadoff Triple Crown. It consisted of On Base Average, Runs and Stolen Bases. This is logical as On Base Average relates to batting average, Runs relates to RBIs and stolen bases is like, but not as helpful to winning as home runs.

I wondered who would be the leaders every year, as non-leadoff hitters try to get on base and score runs. Some even try to steal bases. I developed a formula like Bill James did for the regular triple crown. As Bill did his study, he came up with 1,000 total points which is impossible to hit. I did the same:

On Base Average: Maximum 400 points. I award two points for every point above .300 and up to .500.

Runs. Maximum 300 points. I awarded 2 points for every run up to 150 runs.

Stolen Bases. I award 3 points for each stolen base up to 100.

I debated the number of points for stolen bases, but decided I wanted an advantage for actual lead off men. Also, there haven’t been many years someone exceeded 100 stolen bases.

After reading a few of these listings, a Bill James online a reader came up with the name Rickey awards after Rickey Henderson, the man many of us consider the greatest leadoff man in baseball history. So, I will periodically call these the Rickey Awards.

1970 AL

Here are the leaders for the AL in 1970 along with the number of points:

1. Carl Yastrzemski Bos 623
2. Tommy Harper Mil 476
3. Roy White NY 464
4. Don Buford Balt 458
5. Cesar Tovar Minn 442
6. Sal Bando Oak 422
7. Frank Howard Wash 415
8. Harmon Killebrew Minn 414
9. Boog Powell Balt 391
10. Amos Otis KC 387

What I learned:

I know some people who don’t look at stats with a lot of detail (not on this site) who say Carl Yastrzemski had only one good season. I think a lot of people forgot some of his other great years, like 1970, because he had a lot of mediocre years to end his career.

I am interested to see how many years Amos Otis finished in the top 10.

1970 NL

Here are the leaders for the NL in 1970:

1. Bobby Tolan Cinn 563
2. Bobby Bonds SF 562
3. Lou Brock StL 503
4. Joe Morgan Hou 496
5. Willie McCovey SF 484
6. Rico Carty Atl 479
7. Billy Williams Chi 477
8. Ken Henderson SF 456
9. Pete Rose Cinn 446
10. Jim Hickman Chi 442

What I learned:

Only three (McCovey, Carty and Hickman) of the top 10 in on base average made this list. What we had in 1970 is a lot of players who just missed the top 10 but had excellent years and scored a lot of runs. Most of them stole a lot of bases.

I don’t remember Ken Henderson at all, but he certainly had a great year. He had 20 stolen bases out of only 23 attempts.

1971 AL

Here are the leaders for the AL in 1971:

1. Bobby Mercer NY 484
2. Don Buford Balt 469
3. Merv Rettenmund Balt 451
4. Amos Otis KC 406
5. Roy White NY 390
6. Al Kaline Det 382
7. Freddie Patek KC 365
8. Paul Schaal KC 355
9. Cesar Tovar Minn 354
10. Frank Robinson Balt 341

What I learned:

Amos Otis was in 4th place. However, this is his best stolen base year so this might be as good as it gets. I always liked Amos Otis after reading an article in the book for kids called Superstars in baseball 1972. Despite the date it picked its stars from the 1971 season. It was a good book as the articles for the book were more mature than some of the other baseball books for kids I read. However, I had already read Ball Four, which at the time might have been my favorite baseball book (not counting the Baseball Encyclopedia, which was more than a book to me).

1971 NL

Here are the leaders for the NL in 1971:

1. Lou Brock StL 614
2. Willie Mays SF 483
3. Joe Torre StL 448
4. Ralph Garr Atl 436
5. Hank Aaron Atl 413
6. Bobby Bonds SF 408
7. Willie Stargell Pitt 404
8. Rusty Staub Mont 399
9. Ron Hunt Mon 397
10. Joe Morgan Hou 396

What I Learned:

For the first time Lou Brock made the top 10 in on base percentage (9th place) which made his victory easy as he was first in runs and stolen bases.

Willie Mays at age 40, 20 years after he played his first game, first in on base percentage and eighth in the league in stolen bases. He had 23 stolen bases in 26 attempts, a really remarkable year for a 40-year-old.

1972 AL

Here are the leaders for the AL in 1972:

1. Dick Allen Chi 477
2. Carlos May Chi 445
3. Roy White NY 389
4. Bobby Mercer NY 359
5. Tommy Harper Bost 341
6. Amos Otis KC 338
7. Dave Nelson Tex 337
8. Bert Campaneris Oak 326
9. Reggie Smith Bos 325
10. John Mayberry KC 318

What I Learned:

I was surprised that Dick Allen had the year he had and only score 90 runs. Of course 1972 was like the end of the 60s for the hitters. The White Sox had the top two players by a long way, but Oakland who only had Bert Campaneris who came in eighth outscored them by 38 runs. The advantages of a balanced line up.

I always thought Harmon Killebrew had at best average years after 1971. However, he came in ninth in on base percentage this year and tied for third in home runs. His OPS+ was 138. It was his last decent year. He was hurt a lot in 1972 and was below replacement level in WAR in 1973 and 1974.

1972 NL

Here are the leaders for the NL in 1972:

1. Joe Morgan Cinn 652
2. Cesar Cedeno Hou 541
3. Lou Brock StL 469
4. Jim Wynn Hou 463
5. Bobby Bonds SF 420
6. Pete Rose Cinn 408
7. Billy Williams Chi 395
8. Jose Cardenal Chi 379
9. Bobby Tolan Cinn 370
10. Ralph Garr Atl 367

What I Learned:

Joe Morgan dominated as he was first in on base percentage, first in runs and second in stolen bases by five.

The Reds had three great leadoff men in their lineup Morgan, Rose and Tolan. Something seemed to happen to Tolan the next year and he had a negative two WAR. Despite playing 4 more years after that he never again had a positive WAR.

1973 AL

Here are the leaders for the AL in 1973:

1. Rod Carew Minn 541
2. Billy North Oak 507
3. Tommy Harper Bost 448
4. Reggie Jackson Oak 430
5. John Mayberry KC 417
6. Carl Yastrzemski Bos 405
7. Reggie Smith Bos 381
8. George Scott Mil 363
9. Bobby Grich Cal 361
10. Sal Bando Oak 356

What I learned

Rod Carew’s improvement I mentioned last time took him to first place. He was second in on base percentage, tied for second in runs and fourth in stolen bases.

Oakland besides having 3 of the top 10 on this list, had their players finish 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th in on base percentage. Gene Tenace who didn’t make this list was actually first in on base percentage for the As. I didn’t Billy North had such a good season in his career. I always consider him a run of the mill fast player.

Frank Robinson came in 10th in on base percentage with the Angels.

1973 NL

Here are the leaders for the NL in 1973:

1. Joe Morgan Cinn 645
2. Lou Brock StL 558
3. Bobby Bonds SF 531
4. Cesar Cedeno Hou 492
5. Pete Rose Cinn 462
6. Ken Singleton Mont 456
7. Darrell Evans Atl 452
8. Bob Watson Hou 403
9. Willie Stargell Pitt 396
10. Dusty Baker Atl 392

What I learned:

I was surprised to learn that Montreal had the top two in on base average, Ken Singleton and Ron Fairly, who just missed this listing.

The Reds had quite the leadoff hitters in the same lineup for years with Rose and Morgan. To think they had Tolan earlier.

The top 4 in stolen bases our on the top 4 of our listing here. Only Joe Morgan made the top 10 (fourth) in on base average. However, the other 3 all had solid on base averages.

Bobby Bonds knew how to score runs. In the last five years he had 2 firsts and 3 seconds in runs scored. I think it is due to doing a good job of getting on base, (however never in the top 10) stealing bases and a nice number of homers to get himself home. The Giants lineup didn’t hurt either.

1974 AL

Here are the leaders for the AL in 1974:

1. Rod Carew Minn 552
2. Carl Yastrzemski Bos 450
3. Reggie Jackson Oak 437
4. Billy North Oak 414
5. Bobby Grich Cal 387
6. Jeff Burroughs Tex 368
7. Elliot Maddox NY 358
8. Bert Campaneris Oak 350
9. Dick Allen Chi 339
10. Hal McRae KC 325

Things I Learned:

Rod Carew came in second in stolen bases, which might be the highest in Minnesota Twin history. I can’t think of anyone higher.

John Lowenstein came in third in stolen bases. I never knew he had any speed. His on base average for the season was .313 and his slugging percentage was .325. I don’t anybody would have predicted the type of season he had in 1982.

Frank Robinson in last full season, at least in games played came in 10th in runs.

Herb Washington tied Don Baylor for seventh in stolen bases with 29. Washington had no plate appearances, so gets no credit in on base average. He also scored 29 runs to end up with a triple crown total of 145.

1974 NL

Here are the leaders for the NL in 1974:

1. Lou Brock StL 646
2. Joe Morgan Cinn 642
3. Mike Schmidt Phil 475
4. Davy Lopes LA 467
5. Bobby Bonds SF 445
6. Cesar Cedeno Hou 437
7. Jim Wynn LA 436
8. Pete Rose Cinn 396
9. Willie Stargell Pitt 394
10. Greg Gross Hou 378

What I Learned:

The top two dominated. If stolen bases only counted 2 points Joe Morgan would have won by two, as Lou Brock max out on stolen bases and 18 of his didn’t count. Real close either way.

Larry Lintz had 50 stolen bases and 60 runs in only 113 games. He hit 10 doubles and 1 triple still leaving his slugging percentage below .300. He had a little over a half of his MLB at bats during the year. For the rest of his career he had three extra base hits, all doubles. He had absolutely no power.

1975 AL

Here are the leaders for the AL in 1975:

1. Rod Carew Minn 525
2. Fred Lynn Bos 438
3. John Mayberry KC 437
3. Toby Harrah Tex 437
5. Bobby Bonds NY 426
6. Ken Singleton Bal 415
7. Mickey Rivers Cal 412
8. Billy North Oak 384
9. Claudell Washington Oak 382
10. Bobby Grich Cal 382

What I learned:

Bobby Bonds and Ken Singleton came in the league and finished 5th and 6th.

Ron Leflore came in a tie for 10th in stolen bases. He would improve as on overall player thru the years and will make this list.

Claudell Washington was only 20 years old, but this is his best season.

Mickey Rivers led the league with 70 stolen bases. However, he will not steal nearly as many bases with the Yankees.

Billy North did not steal or have near as many attempts in 1975 as he did in 1974 and 1976. I wonder if he was hurt this year.

1975 NL

The leaders for the NL in 1975:

1. Joe Morgan Cinn 747
2. Davy Lopes LA 563
3. Cesar Cedeno Hou 478
4. Jose Cardenal Chi 466
5. Lou Brock StL 442
6. Pete Rose Cinn 436
7. Ken Griffey Cinn 420
8. Mike Schmidt Phil 407
9. Jim Wynn LA 387
10. Bill Madlock Chi 385

What I Learned:

The Reds had first, sixth and seventh. That sure helps the RBI guys and give a lot of support to win the World Championship.

What a total by Joe Morgan. He was within 100 of the maximum amount in all three categories. His worst was stolen bases where he had 201 points.

Pete Rose didn’t have a stolen base the whole year after stealing just 2 the year before. He will steal his most bases in 1979 when he is 38. From 1981 to 1984 he stole bases in half of his attempts all four years. In 1984 he was only 1 for 2.

1976 AL

The leaders for the AL in 1976:

1. Rod Carew Minn 531
2. Billy North Oak 519
3. Ron LeFlore Det 512
4. Roy White NY 431
5. Hal McRae KC 430
6. George Brett KC 405
7. Don Baylor Oak 384
8. Mickey Rivers NY 375
9. Bobby Grich Cal 374
10. Mike Hargrove Tex 360

What I Learned

Steve Braun came in eighth and ninth in on base percentage in both 1975 and 1976. Bobby Grich was better in the other categories to pull off an overall 9th both years.

Ron Leflore had an on base average of .302 in 1975. He improved and made the top 10 in on base average in 1976 to help him come in third overall here.

1976 NL

The leaders for the NL in 1976:

1, Joe Morgan Cinn 694
2. Ken Griffey Cinn 526
3. Pete Rose Cinn 495
4. Cesar Cedeno Hou 466
5. Mike Schmidt Phil 418
6. Bill Madlock Chi 405
7. Lou Brock StL 402
8. Davy Lopes LA 399
9. Garry Maddox Phil 391
10. Frank Taveras Pitt 368

What I learned:

the Reds had quite the top 3 hitters as they dominate the category. Cesar Geronimo finished 6th in on base average and was fourth on the Reds. His teammates in the top 3 here finished above him.

Joe Morgan lost over 50 points off his total, but still had an easy victory.

Lou Brock is still doing well as he finished 7th. To me this study helps his hall of fame argument.

Frank Taveras made the top 10 despite an on base average of only .321.

1977 AL

Here are the AL leaders for 1977:

1. Rod Carew Minn 623
2. Mitchell Page Oak 506
3. Ken Singleton Bal 456
4. Toby Harrah Tex 447
5. Ron LeFlore Det 443
6. Mike Hargrove Tex 442
7. Carlton Fisk Bos 437
8. Lyman Bostock Minn 434
9. Bobby Bonds Cal 413
10. George Brett KC 398

What I learned:

Carl Yastrzemski was 37 years old in 1977 had 11 stolen bases in 12 attempts that year.

Rod Carew didn’t steal many bases but dominated the leadoff competition, winning easily. Looking at baseball reference leader he won a lot of other categories. I surprised he didn’t dominate the MVP award more. I would have found him hard to beat and thought so at the time. However, I was a Twins fan who had yet to learn about sabermetrics.

Mitchell Page finished 4th in on base average and second in stolen bases. He was 42 for 47 in stolen bases. He also his 28 doubles and 21 home runs. Yet Page finished in second to the Rookie of the Year Award. Daniel Marks the other day in his article on rookie classes said Page didn’t win the rookie of the year but he should have. I agree and it shouldn’t have been close. The winner Eddie Murray hit more home runs (27) and had slightly more RBIs. However, Page was better in the other key categories including 6.1 to 3.2 in WAR. Were the writer impressed because Murray was 21 while Page was 25. Was it because the Orioles had a lot better record? However, it certainly wasn’t Page’s fault the A’s lost so much. If the writers were voting for the player with the most potential, they certainly got that right. However, I didn’t think that is what the Rookie of the Year vote should be about, and the writers missed the vote with this election.

1977 NL

Here are the NL leaders for 1977:

1. Joe Morgan Cinn 607
2. Reggie Smith LA 483
3. Ken Griffey Cinn 463
4. Dave Parker Pitt 459
4. Mike Schmidt Phil 459
4. Cesar Cedeno Hou 459
7, Davy Lopes LA 455
8. Gene Richards SD 452
9. Jose Cruz Hou 442
10. George Foster Cinn 430

What I Learned:

Reggie Smith had a couple of excellent seasons for the Dodgers. He also had a great season in 1978 even though he missed more games. He seemed to be missed more games. Then he aged I wonder if he hit well in Dodger Stadium. He had his two best offensive seasons according to Baseball Reference WAR in 1977 and 1978.

I ran Pete Rose even though he didn’t come in the top 10 in any of the three categories. He was a little short on what he usually had for on base average and runs scored. Still three Reds made the top 10 with George Foster replacing Rose.

1978 AL

Here are the AL leaders for 1978:

1, Ron LeFlore Det 578
2. Rod Carew Minn 473
3. Willie Randolph NY 444
4. Bobby Bonds Chi-Tex 425
5. Amos Otis KC 404
6. Jim Rice Bos 403
7. Bump Wills Tex 374
8. Larry Hisle Mil 370
9. Julio Cruz Sea 369
10. Andre Thornton Clev 360

What I Learned:

A Father-Son combination on the list as Bump Wills made the top 10 joining his Dad Maury. We all know there will be more.

Ron Leflore won after being towards the top in other years. His led the league in runs scored and stolen bases and a solid on base average.

The top 3 in on base average was the same in 1977 and 1978, Rod Carew, Ken Singleton and Mike Hargrove in that order both years. When I first got on the page in baseball reference to complete this year, I thought I landed on 1977 by mistake. I looked at Rod Carew’s batting average and thought, no this is the right year. They all went down a little in on base average, but all three went down considerably in runs scored.

1978 NL

Here are the NL leaders for 1978:

1. Omar Moreno Pitt 481
2. Gene Richards SD 453
3. Dave Parker Pitt 452
4. Ivan de Jesus Chi 443
5. Davy Lopes LA 431
6. Jose Cruz Hou 421
7. Jeff Burroughs Atl 411
8. Mike Schmidt Phil 371
9. Greg Luzinski Phil 370
10. Pete Rose Cinn 369

What I Learned:

Wow! Omar Moreno won. I was worried about this, but he won stolen bases by a wide margin, was in the top 10 in runs and had a decent on base average (.339). This was only 37 points from the top 10. Also no one had a really great year in the National League in 1978.

I don’t remember much about Gene Richards, but he is second this year, with MVP Dave Parker third. This gave the pirates 2 of the top 3.

1979 AL

Here are the AL leaders for 1979:

1. Willie Wilson KC 577
2. Ron LeFlore Det 564
3. Fred Lynn Bos 484
4. Darrell Porter KC 453
5. Don Baylor Cal 448
6. Willie Randolph NY 443
7. George Brett KC 441
8. Rod Carew Cal 436
8. Toby Harrah Cle 436
10. Ruppert Jones Sea 429

What I Learned:

Both Wilson and Leflore had over .350 on base percentage.

There were a lot of players who scored over 400 points, which is the first time at least 10 did in the American League in the 70s.

MVP Don Baylor came in 5th, but I would have rather had Fred Lynn who was 3rd on this list.

1979 NL

Here are the NL leaders for 1979:

1. Billy North SF 520
2. Omar Moreno Pitt 517
3. Keith Hernandez StL 499
4. Davy Lopes LA 494
5. Pete Rose Phil 476
6. Lee Mazzilli NY 448
7. Dave Parker Pitt 438
8. Dave Winfield SD 429
9. Mike Schmidt Phil 417
10. Jose Cruz Hou 388

What I Learned:

Billy North came out of nowhere to win. Well not out of nowhere, but I wasn’t expecting to see his name here again. I remember him playing for San Francisco but didn’t really pay attention to him there. I was in college and was busy with school and other things. This wasn’t just do to stolen bases as he was ninth in on base average.

Top 10 AL 1970s

  1. Rod Carew 73
  2. Ron LeFlore 36
  3. Billy North 30
  4. Roy White 29
  5. Carl Yastrzemski 27
  6. Tommy Harper 24
  7. Bobby Mercer 19
  8. Merv Rettermund 19
  9. Fred Lynn 18
  10. Don Buford 17

What I Learned:

Only two Hall of Famers in the to 10 Rod Carew and Carl Yastrzemski. Rod Carew dominated the decade with 5 first place finishes. Probably the least famous of the top 10 was Tommy Harper. Ron LeFlore was famous for being in prison before becoming a baseball player. There was a TV movie made about this starring LeVar Burton. Billy North was in the post season all the time in the early 70s with Oakland. Roy White and Bobby Mercer were Yankees. Merv Rettermund was in the post season with the Orioles and had to replace Frank Robinson after Robinson was traded from Baltimore. Fred Lynn was MVP and Rookie of the Year the same season. Don Buford was the leadoff man for the great Oriole teams.

Tommy Harper had some solid for the Reds and was traded for Cleveland. He played one year at Cleveland and was picked up by Seattle in the expansion draft. He had super year in 1970 with Milwaukee as he hit 31 homeruns his only season over 20 and 35 doubles his only season over 30.

Top 10 NL 1970s

  1. Joe Morgan 78
  2. Lou Brock 60
  3. Cesar Cedeno 43
  4. Davy Lopes 37
  5. Pete Rose 36
  6. Bobby Bonds 35
  7. Mike Schmidt 28
  8. Ken Griffey 22
  9. Omar Moreno 22
  10. Dave Parker 18

What I Learned:

There are four hall of famers on this list, Joe Morgan, Lou Brock, Pete Rose and Mike Schmidt. I thought of Brock as a border line hall of famer, but this study has shown to me he is definitely a hall of famer. He did the best in the 60s and second best in the 70s in my little formula as a leadoff hitter. Sure, he could have got on base more and been a better fielder, but he did his job as leadoff man as well as anyone there two decades and better than most.

Bobby Bonds did real well considering he was traded to the American League halfway through the decade. He also scored 15 points in the American league. 

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