Willie Mays

As much as any player in baseball history, Willie Mays brought a new style of play to the game that had never been seen before. Mays had an almost boyish passion for the game when he came up with the New York Giants in the early 1950s. With his signature basket catch in center field and the way his cap flew off his head when he ran the bases, Mays won over fans with his style as much as his performance.

But make no mistake about it, Mays could perform between the white lines. He quickly became one of the best players in the game after becoming a regular in the ’51 season, and by the 1960s he was the best player in baseball. From 1960-1965, he posted the best WAR (wins above replacement) of any player in his league every season. As he matured he hit for even more power, finishing his career with 660 home runs.

He helped the Giants to three pennants (1951, 1954, and 1962), and was on the Mets pennant-winning team in 1973 as well.

Most Stolen Bases, 1950-1959
Willie Mays … 179
Minnie Minoso … 167
Richie Ashburn … 158
Jim Rivera … 150
Luis Aparicio … 134
Jackie Jensen … 134
Jim Gilliam … 132
Pee Wee Reese … 124
Bill Bruton … 121
Jackie Robinson … 109

Interesting to note that the 1950s were the decade in which stolen bases were at an all-time low. But of the top ten in the category for the decade, six of the players are in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Minoso probably should be.