Yastrzemski named 1967 AL MVP

Part of the INSIDE PITCH series
Written by: Craig Muder

Carl Yastrzemski was undoubtedly the best player in the American League in 1967.

But there was also no question that he was also the “most valuable” – based on a season-ending stretch that powered his Red Sox to the AL pennant.

Going 10-for-his-last-13 at the plate with two homers and nine RBI – all while Boston was battling for the AL title – left teammates and opponents alike in awe of the Red Sox’s left fielder.

“(Yastrzemski’s season-ending burst) cemented my feeling that his season was baseball’s best ever,” said Red Sox manager Dick Williams in his book “No More Mr. Nice Guy”.

On Nov. 15, 1967 – in an announcement that was a foregone conclusion – Yastrzemski was named the AL Most Valuable Player, missing out on a unanimous selection by only one vote. In 161 games that year, Yastrzemski led the AL in batting average (.326), home runs (44, finishing in a tie with Harmon Killebrew), RBI (121), runs (112), hits (189), on-base percentage (.418), slugging percentage (.622) and total bases (360).

Powered by Yastrzemski and guided by rookie manager Williams, the Red Sox went from ninth place in 1966 to first place, advancing to the World Series before falling to the Cardinals in seven games. In the Fall Classic, Yastrzemski continued his hot streak by hitting .400 with two doubles, three home runs, five RBI and four walks.

“I don’t think anyone will ever have a year (like Yastrzemski did in 1967) for one simple, largely ignored reason,” wrote Williams, who was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2008. “Players capable of having such years are rarely signed to just one-year contracts, like Yaz was. You know, the kind of contract that gives a player instant adrenalin.”

But Yastrzemski was no one-year wonder. In 1968, he hit .301 – becoming the only AL player to reach the .300 mark in the Year of the Pitcher.

Then in 1969 and 1970, Yastrzemski hit 40 home runs in consecutive seasons, nearly duplicating his 1967 campaign in the latter year with a .329 average, 125 runs scored, 335 total bases and a career-best 23 stolen bases.

When he retired following the 1983 season after 23 years with the Red Sox, Yastrzemski had totaled 452 home runs, 1,844 RBI, 18 All-Star Game selections and seven Gold Glove Awards. He’s one of only three players in big league history – along with Barry Bonds and Babe Ruth – to amass at least 1,800 runs, 1,800 RBI and 1,800 walks.

Yastrzemski was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1989.

Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

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Part of the INSIDE PITCH series