Richie Hebner is one of the best third basemen in the history of the Pittsburgh Pirates. I ranked him as the team’s 3rd best hot corner defender in their history. But Hebner had an outstanding rookie campaign in 1969, and is one of the top 10 rookie seasons in Pirate history. But he didnot receive even a single National League Rookie of the Year vote.
Hebner batted for a strong .301/.381/.421 line. For the era, he was about 25-28% above the league average with a 126 wRC+ and 127 OPS+. Hebner struckout and walked at the same rate with 53 of each in 532 plate appearances. Though he wasn’t a fantastic defender, Hebner did come through in the clutch batting .292/.372/.377 in high leverage situations.
Hebner collected a total of 3.5 fWAR. He led all rookies in terms of that, and also was tied in wRC+ among rookies with at least 500 plate appearances. That year, the light hitting Dodgers’ rookie, Ted Sizemore, took home the award. He only hit .271/.328/.342 with a 94 OPS+ and 95 wRC+. He also had an fWAR of just 2.5 in comparison. Though he was a fantastic defender at second base and shortstop, Sizemore’s fWAR was behind both Hebner, and another Pirates’ rookie who didn’t receive a single ROY vote, Manny Sanguillen.