Willie Stargell, 1971
Willie Stargell may have won the MVP in1979, but 1971 was one of the best years of Stargell’s long and storied MLB career. It was also far better than his ’79 season.
“Pops” Stargell demolished 48 home runs, and finished with a .295/.398/.628 line in 609 plate appearances. He posted a 185 OPS+ and 186 wRC+. Stargell led the league in home runs, fWAR at 8.2, and was second to just Hank Aaron in wRC+. Stargell even showed some prowess defensively posting +3 total zone runs, one of the very few times he posted positive defensive numbers in his career. He even wasn’t a terrible base runner with +0.2 base running runs above average.
Stargell was snubbed by another Hall of Famer in Joe Torre. To Torre’s credit, he had a fantastic season as well hitting .363/.431/.555 with 24 long balls, a 171 OPS+, and 173 wRC+. The thing that really hurt Torre was the fact he was a poor defensive third baseman with -25 total zone runs. That brought his bWAR all the way down to 5.9 and his fWAR to 6.9.
Aside from making contact more consistently, Torre’s 1971 season was inferior to Stargell’s in almost every way. But in 1971, batting average meant way more than it does today. Looking back at it, though Torre had more hits, Stargell had more extra base hits, and still posted a solid batting average while also providing much more value defensively.