Maury Wills (1959-66, 1969-72, .281/.331/.332): Another former Dodger who should be in the Hall of Fame, Wills is the man who had the biggest influence on making the stolen base a weapon. Wills led the league in steals six consecutive seasons, including a then-record 104 in 1962 (with only 13 times caught stealing). He won the MVP award that year and finished third in 1965, when he stole 94 bases. Was he just an average hitter? Yes. Was he a defensive whiz? Not a whiz, but he did win two Gold Gloves. And, if you will allow me to get on my soapbox for a moment … I understand why modern analytics tell us that the stolen base is often not worth the risk. I understand why, from a logical point of view, you don’t want guys stealing 20 bases and getting caught 10 times, because the 20 times you pick up an extra base isn’t worth the 10 times you lose the runner entirely. But speaking from a fan standpoint: There are few things more exciting in baseball than having a guy on first who you know can steal second. Every pitch becomes a focus, as fans wonder if he’s going now or going to wait. Now, a guy gets on first, you know he’s not going anywhere. Wills made the game exciting, and in the haste to make everything about the game analytical, some of that excitement is being stripped from the game.
Source: latimes.com – Los Angeles Times