10 Decades, 10 Legends: 1960s—Ron Santo

Ron_Santo

For our annual July All-Star issue, Vine Line set out to find the most valuable player from each 10-year span in Wrigley Field’s history to create a Cubs All-Star team for the ages. There are hundreds of ways to go about this, so we simplified things by using the baseball statistics website Fangraphs to find the player with the highest Wins Above Replacement total for each decade.

Wins Above Replacement, better known as WAR, takes all of a player’s statistics—both offensive and defensive—and outputs them into a single number designed to quantify that player’s total contributions to his team (though for pitchers, we used only their mound efforts and excluded offensive stats). For our purposes, a player received credit only for the numbers he posted in each individual decade and only for the years he was a member of the Cubs.

In the sixth installment of our 10 Decades, 10 Legends series, we look at No. 10, who dominated the 1960s. Hall of Famer Ron Santo was one of the greatest, and most well-liked, Cubs of all time.

Previous Decades:
1910s – Hippo Vaughn
1920s – Grover Cleveland Alexander
1930s – Billy Herman
1940s – Bill Nicholson
1950 – Ernie Banks

1960s – Ron Santo, 56.3 WAR

Seasons: 1960-69
AVG/OBP/SLG: .281/.366/.478
PA: 6,531
HR: 253
R: 816
RBI: 937
SB: 27

Let’s not beat around the bush—Ron Santo was Cubs baseball in the 1960s. There were other greats, including Billy Williams and Banks, but for most of the decade, the North Side was Ronnie’s World.

The only players who had a higher WAR total in Major League Baseball during the 10-year span were fellow Hall of Famers Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Frank Robinson and Roberto Clemente.

Offensively, Santo always found a way to reach base. During the 1960s, he led the league in bases on balls four times and finished with 86 walks or more seven times. It’s no surprise he led the league in on-base percentage twice.

Santo went to six All-Star Games in the decade and was a starter three times. He also received MVP votes seven times, including a fourth-place finish in 1967. Though his decade slash line of .281/.366/.478 isn’t historically impressive, from 1963-67, he was a .301 hitter, averaging 30 homers and 27 doubles. Always slick with the glove, Santo got it done on defense as well, claiming five straight Gold Glove awards from 1964-68.

After a long wait, Santo was posthumously inducted into the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 2012.

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