1959: Nellie Fox, American League MVP
It was one of only two seasons in the decade of the 1950s when the New York Yankees didn’t win the American League pennant. In 1959, the Chicago White Sox ran all the way to their first pennant in 40 years and it was second baseman Nellie Fox that was the glue holding it together.
Singles hitters didn’t win a lot of awards in the 1950s — consider that Fox was preceded as American League MVP by Boston Red Sox slugger Jackie Jensen in 1958 and Yankees legend Mickey Mantle in 1956 and 1957.
The White Sox were 94-60 and won the American League by five games over the Cleveland Indians — 15 games up on the also-ran Yanks.
Fox was named to both All-Star games in 1959 and won a Gold Glove, hitting .306/.380/.389 out of the No. 2 spot in the order. In 156 games, Fox had 34 doubles, six triples, two homers and drove in 70 runs while scoring 84. He drew 71 walks and struck out just 13 times. He led the majors with 717 plate appearances and the AL with 624 at-bats.
The White Sox lost the World Series in six games to the Dodgers, but not because of Fox. He hit .375/.464/.500 in the series, going 9-for-24 with three doubles and four runs scored.
Fox was acquired in October 1949 from the Philadelphia Athletics and stayed in Chicago until he was dealt to the Houston Colt .45s in December 1963.
In 14 seasons with the White Sox, Fox was a 15-time All-Star, hitting .291/.349/.367 in 2,115 games and 9,493 plate appearances. He hit 335 doubles, 104 triples and 35 homers, driving in 740 runs and scoring 1,187. Fox walked 658 times and struck out only 192. Fox is tied with Shano Collins for the franchise’s all-time record with his 104 triples.
His 44.2 at-bats per strikeout is also a club record, far ahead of another Hall of Fame second baseman, Eddie Collins (29.6).