10 Best Offensive Seasons By A First Baseman

Since the inception of the sport first baseman have been an offensive cornerstone. Hall of famers Cap Anson, Roger Connor, and Dan Brouthers were among the first offensively dominant players in the game and they were first baseman. Maybe those exceptional players created an expectation that all first baseman who followed had to live up to or it might be the perceived simplicity of the position that attracts superior hitters. Whatever the reason, in baseball today having a first baseman who can hold his own with the bat is nearly a pre-requisite for each franchise.

Like everything else, some stand out from the crowd. Below is my list of the 10 greatest offensive seasons from first baseman.

Honorable Mention


  • 10. Norm Cash, Detroit Tigers, 1961

  • Often forgotten about because his career overlapped with some of the games most historical figures: Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, and Roberto Clemente just to name a few. His 1961 season was by far the best season of his career but don’t take that as a knock on his career. He led all of baseball in batting average, on-base percentage, and OPS, was second in walks and slugging, third in WAR, fifth in runs, hits and rbi, seventh in home runs, tied for tenth in triples. Cash was also selected to the AL all-star team and finished fourth in the AL MVP voting behind Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle, Jim Gentile.


    Norm Cash Batting Statistics
    WAR G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
    9.2 159 535 119 193 22 8 41 132 11 5 124 85 .361 .487 .662 1.148

  • 9. Lou Gehrig, New York Yankees, 1934

  • Gehrig, now the undisputed leader of the Yankees as an aging Babe Ruth played in only 125 games in pinstripes, he proved that is production was not a by product of playing with Ruth. Gehrig led the majors in WAR, games played, home runs, rbi, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging, and OPS, second in walks, and fourth in runs and hits. Despite such a dominant season he finsihed fifth in the AL MVP race. He did, however, make the AL all-star team.


    Lou Gehrig Batting Statistics
    WAR G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
    10.4 154 579 128 210 40 6 49 166 9 5 109 31 .363 .465 .706 1.172

  • 8. Willie McCovey, San Francisco Giants, 1969

  • McCovey was the best player on a Giants squad that won 90 games and had an aging Willie Mays, Bobby Bonds, and Juan Marichal. He finished the season as the major league leader in intentional walks, on-base percentage, slugging, and OPS, second in rbi and walks, fourth in WAR and home runs, and sixth in batting average. His 45 intentional walks is the most ever in a single season by a player not named Barry Bonds. McCovey was also an NL all-star and narrowly edged Tom Seaver as the NL MVP.


    Willie McCovey Batting Statistics
    WAR G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
    8.1 149 491 101 157 26 2 45 126 0 0 121 66 .320 .453 .656 1.108

  • 7. Jimmie Foxx, Philadelphia Phillies, 1932

  • The 24-year old Foxx playing in his fifth full season in the bigs produced like an all-time great. He led the majors in WAR, homers, rbi, slugging, and OPS, second in games played, runs, walks, and on-base percentage, third in batting average, and seventh in hits. This season was during what many consider to be the offensive boom that Babe Ruth ushered in but his numbers were so much better than the rest of the league it’s hard to overlook them. So dominant was Foxx’s season that he won the AL MVP without much competition.


    Jimmie Foxx Batting Statistics
    WAR G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
    10.5 154 585 151 213 33 9 58 169 3 7 116 96 .364 .469 .749 1.218

  • 6. Lou Gehrig, New York Yankees, 1930

  • Teaming up with Babe Ruth they made the greatest offensive duo in the sports history. In 1930, Gehrig finished second in WAR, rbi, on-base percentage, and OPS, third in homers and slugging, tied with Kiki Cuyler and Woody English for fifth in triples and fifth in walks, sixth in games played and tied with Freddie Lindstrom for sixth in batting average, seventh in hits, and tied with Babe Herman for ninth in runs. Despite the amazing numbers put up by Gehrig he didn’t finish in the top ten in MVP voting.


    Lou Gehrig Batting Statistics
    WAR G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
    9.6 154 581 143 220 42 17 41 173 12 14 101 63 .379 .473 .721 1.194

  • 5. Dick Allen, Chicago White Sox, 1972

  • In the first of his three campaigns on the south side of Chicago Dick Allen had arguably the greatest year of his career. Allen led all of baseball in on-base percentage and OPS, finished second in WAR and slugging, tied with Billy Williams for third in home runs, finished third in rbi, tied with Roy White for fourth in walks, and tied for tenth with teammate Carlos May in batting average. Allen also earned a spot on the AL all-star team as well as the AL MVP taking 21 of 23 first place votes.


    Dick Allen Batting Statistics
    WAR G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
    8.6 148 506 90 156 28 5 37 113 19 8 99 126 .308 .420 .603 1.023

  • 4. Mark McGwire, St. Louis Cardinals, 1998

  • Regardless of your personal feelings about McGwire’s career and his association with PEDs his 1998 season was one of the best seasons ever. Big Mac led the majors in home runs, walks, on-base percentage, slugging, and OPS, finished second in runs, fourth in rbi, and tied Derek Jeter for fifth in WAR. His season was good enough to earn him a Silver Slugger award and make the all-star team. He also finished second to Sammy Sosa in the NL MVP race.


    Mark McGwire Batting Statistics
    WAR G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
    7.5 155 509 130 152 21 0 70 147 1 0 162 155 .299 .470 .752 1.222

  • 3. Frank Thomas, Chicago White Sox, 1994

  • The only bad part of Thomas’ 1994 season is that it was cut short due to the players strike. It’s tempting to look at his numbers and get caught up in what might have been. But look at what was is just as impressive. Big Frank led the majors in runs, walks, on-base percentage, and OPS, finished second in slugging, fourth in WAR and homers, tied with Albert Belle for fourth in rbi, finished fifth in batting average, tied for seventh in doubles with Travis Fryman, and finished tenth in hits. Although the season was cut short he was named to the AL all-star team and won both a Silver Slugger and the AL MVP. What might have been indeed.


    Frank Thomas Batting Statistics
    WAR G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
    6.3 113 399 106 141 34 1 38 101 2 3 109 61 .353 .487 .729 1.217

  • 2. Jeff Bagwell, Houston Astros, 1994

  • Bagwell was also on his way to one of the greatest seasons in history when the player’s strike ended the season. He led all of baseball in WAR, rbi, and slugging, finished second in batting average and OPS, third in runs and homers, tied with Albert Belle and Dante Bichette for fourth in hits, finished fourth in on-base percentage, and tied with four other players for tenths in doubles. Bagwell made the NL all-star team and a Silver Slugger and the NL MVP.


    Jeff Bagwell Batting Statistics
    WAR G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
    8.2 110 400 104 147 32 2 39 116 15 4 65 65 .368 .451 .750 1.201

  • 1. Lou Gehrig, New York Yankees, 1927

  • The first baseman for what many believe was the greatest team in baseball history, Lou Gehrig’s 1927 season is our top season ever by a first baseman. Gehrig led the majors in games played, doubles, rbi, finished second in WAR, runs, homers, walks, slugging, and OPS, tied with Paul Waner for second in triples, finished third in on-base percentage, fourth in hits and batting average, and tenth in at bats. Gehrig was the AL’s MVP. It’s hard to believe that 14 years later the legendary first baseman would be dead at 37.


    Lou Gehrig Batting Statistics
    WAR G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
    11.8 155 584 149 218 52 18 47 173 10 8 109 84 .373 .474 .765 1.240

One thought on “10 Best Offensive Seasons By A First Baseman

  1. Pingback: 10 Best Offensive Seasons By A Third Baseman | The Baseball Scholar

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