Henry Aaron: A Consistent Season

Henry Aaron
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It should not shock anyone that Henry Aaron is included on this list. From 1954-1976, Aaron dominated opposing pitchers. Few players in the history of the game have come close to repeating his feats. In fact, some might argue, none have. His 755 home runs rank second (albeit, controversially so) to Barry Bonds. He still holds the All-Time RBI and total base records, posting 2,297 and 6,856, respectively. He’s a Hall of Famer, an MVP, a two-time batting champion, and a 25-time All-Star. The only years he did not make the Midsummer Classic were his first, and his last. He was so good that, believe it or not, he was voted a double All-Star four years in a row.

The final two slots on our list of terrific Atlanta Braves offensive seasons belong to Henry Aaron. They both fall in those aforementioned double All-Star campaigns. Our first entry, bringing home the silver medal in our rankings, is 1963. During this season, Aaron posted 44 homers, 130 RBI, a .319 batting average, and an eye-popping 9.1 WAR. To put that in perspective, he finished a full point ahead of the next closest WAR mark in the league. He also led all NL players with a whopping 179 OPS+ and manufactured nearly 20 more runs than Willie Mays. The realization that this is his second best All-Time season is jaw dropping. For Henry Aaron, it was just another day at the office.

April: A Normal Beginning

The Hammer began the season in typical fashion, going four for his first 12 and bashing his first homer. Things in April only escalated from there, as he wound up with a slash line of .329/.396/.634. He swatted four doubles and seven homers, overall. His productivity level was extremely high, as he scored 19 runs, and knocked in 16. He also put up 27 hits and nine walks, helping fuel an OPS of 1.030. Luck didn’t seem to be a factor, as his BABIP of .318 is almost identical to his overall average. Frankly, Henry Aaron was scorching hot throughout the month.

May: Henry Aaron Heats Up

He continued his impressive work in May. In over 100 at-bats, he posted a .330 average and a .650 slugging mark. He banged out 33 hits, with nearly half of them going for extra bases. He smashed nine more homers, bringing his season total to 16. His 22 RBI and 23 runs scored act as the icing on this absolute cake of a month. Once again, the hand of fortune played nearly no part in this. Henry Aaron cranked out a BABIP of .333, showing his willingness to allow the count to work in his favor. His OPS of 1.079 was helped along by 18 walks in 119 plate appearances. While not mind boggling, that’s still a walk percentage of over 15%.

June: A Minor Cool Spell

In June, Henry Aaron cooled off a touch. Of course, that’s like saying a 375 degree oven is cooler than a 400 degree oven. He was still terrific, posting a slash line of .300/.353/.518 with six more homers. His hit totals continued to rise, as he put up his second consecutive 33 hit season. Productivity wise, he slipped ever so slightly. However, 21 RBI and 17 runs in 27 games are both extremely staunch figures. He also found success on the base paths, stealing eight bags and not being caught once. Luck worked a little more against him, as his BABIP dropped below .300 for the first time. Nonetheless, Aaron continued to prove why he was one of the dominant forces of the time.

July: Slash Lines and Fine Times

July brought more terrific work from the Hall of Famer. He slashed .305/.357/.557 with a .914 OPS. His hit total cracked 40 for the first time in the season, to go along with seven doubles and a triple. He smashed eight home runs, cruising into August with a steady 30 on the season. That said, the truly astonishing thing about this month was just how precise Aaron was, given the opportunity. Not only did he score 21 runs, but he also put up 28 RBI. Statistically speaking, one would not have wanted to face Henry Aaron with runners on base during this month. Luck turned back in his favor as well, as his BABIP was raised to .299. Overall, this was an excellent rebound month from June.

August: Henry Aaron Remains Hot

August in Milwaukee may not be as hot as other parts of the country. However, for Aaron, it was another scorcher. He slashed .314/.421/.524 with an OPS of .944. His power never took a break, as he slugged five more homers and five more doubles. He added 33 more hits, along with a triple and four stolen bases. Productivity wise, he scored 20 runs and put up 25 RBI. He was putting the ball in play at a 52.4% clip, helping lead to a .311 BABIP. The icing on this particular cake was his walk percentage of 15.9% (20 walks in 126 plate appearances). This is yet another example of why Henry Aaron was pure MVP material in this season.

September: An All-Time Season’s Closure

Entering September, the Braves had a respectable record of 73–62. Unfortunately, this put them seven-and-a-half games behind the white hot Los Angeles Dodgers. None of this stopped Henry Aaron, though. He put up another spectacular month, slashing .327/.385/.636 with an OPS of 1.020. He hit nine homers, pounded out 35 more hits, and six doubles. While he did strike out a tad more, when he put the ball in play, it counted. He posted a BABIP of .333, scoring 21 runs and adding 18 RBI. Finally, he found more success on the base paths, swiping nine and only getting caught once. In short, Henry Aaron ended things in grand fashion, the same way he’d played all season.

Summary: Henry Aaron’s

If there are two offensive seasons in Braves history to look back on, it’s this one and the one we’ll examine next time. Aaron is generally considered to be one of, if not the, best players in baseball history. The Hammer has earned his reputation. The 1963 campaign is simply another example of this. There were lots of MVP candidates that season, and eventual winner Sandy Koufax definitely earned his due. However, in examining Aaron’s season, it is difficult to think that he did not win that season, nor any other except one. Perhaps it was too predictable. Henry Aaron was simply that good.

 

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Players Mentioned:

Henry Aaron, Barry Bonds, Willie Mays, Sandy Koufax