1966 National League MVP – Roberto Clemente
1966 was the beginning of a series of phenomenal seasons where the next was better than the last by The Great One. In 690 plate appearances during the 1966 season, Roberto Clemente had a .317/.360/.536 line with a .385 wOBA. Clemente hit the most home runs in a single season of his career in 1966 with 29. He also had 31 doubles and 11 triples to go along with that. Overall, offensively, he was great with a 146 OPS+ and 143 wRC+.
But Clemente’s defense was a sight to behold. That year, the outfielder had +18 total zone runs above average, the third most in all of baseball. You can’t talk about how good Clemente’s defense was without talking about how good his arm was. While we don’t have metrics like arm runs above average to analyze just how good he was, he had 17 outfield assists, which led all outfielders. Also, anyone who ever watched Clemente play or has talked to anyone that did knows he had an absolute howitzer for a right arm.
Clemente’s fWAR of 7.1 was 4th in the National League, and he was 6th in the NL in bWAR at 8.2. He also ranked 14th in wRC+. While the gap in overall performance this year isn’t as wide as it was with the two other names I’ve talked about so far, it’s debatable whether or not Clemente should have won the award, but seeing as voters didn’t have WAR, OPS+, wRC+, ect. back then to decide who to vote for, Clemente had the 5th highest batting average, and was tied for the second highest mark with Dick Allen of all players who finished top 5 in MVP voting. Still, looking back at it, Celmente was a very warranted MVP.