1968 was remembered by most baseball fans as the year of the pitcher. Denny McLain and Bob Gibson both won Cy Young Awards and their respective league MVP awards and Mickey Lolich was the World Series MVP. Even the 1968 All Star Game was a pitching duel. The NL won 1-0 and the only run scored in the game was unearned. Johnny Bench prevented a clean sweep by the pitchers but he barely beat out 19 game winner Jerry Koosman. Bench received 10.5 votes to Koosman's 9.5 votes. Koosman's numbers were very similar to Bahnsen's numbers, but Bahnsen's closest competition was Del Unser who led center fielders in put outs and assists but hit a meager .230 with one home run.
Koosman's competition was a Gold Glove/All Star catcher who played in 154 games and hitting .275 with 15 homers. In addition to winning the Rookie of the Year, Bench was a 14 time All Star, won 10 consecutive Gold Gloves and was the MVP in both 1970 and 1972. In both MVP seasons Bench beat out one of my favorite players. The 1961 Rookie of the Year, "Sweet Swinging" Billy Williams.