I think of Mays and Aaron as the most tightly coupled of any of the top two dozen players in MLB history: Mays played from 1951 to 1973 (22 years, subtracting his Korean War stint in 1953), Aaron played from 1954 to 1976, 23 years. They were the last two great players to emerge from the Negro Leagues, they both came back to their original MLB city for the last two years of their career. Mays and Aaron each won 1 World Series, and their career offensive numbers are not absolutely parallel, but are very similar, especially if we add in the stats Mays didn’t compile due to missing all of 1953 and most of 1952. Mays was in the top 5 on the MVP ballot in nine seasons; Aaron made that level eight times.
Here are a few stats to note from their careers: Aaron’s batting average, OBP, and slugging percentage: .305, .374, .555. Mays’: .302, .384, .557.
Mays’ homers per plate appearance rate: 5.28%. Aaron’s: 5.415%. Applying Mays’ homer percentage rate to Aaron’s 13,941 plate appearances gives you 736 projected homers for Mays; applying Aaron’s homer percentage rate to Mays’ 12,496 plate appearances gives you 677 projected homers for Aaron.
The low-high swing for Mays’ homers total in a season from his debut in 1951 through 1971 (not counting his 4 homers in 1952) was 13 to 52. (Mays had 14 homers in his last two seasons.) Aaron’s range was 13 to 47, also excluding his last two seasons (when he had 22). Aaron had 8 years in the 40s for homers; Mays had 4 in the 40s and two in the 50s. Mays’ peak steals tallies were 40 and 38 in 1956 and 1957; Aaron got to 31 steals in 1963 and 28 in 1968. Mays’ best five-season homer tally was 226 from 1961 through 1965; Aaron’s best five-season homer tally was 203 from 1969 through 1973.
Aaron’s walk rate was 10%; Mays’ was 11.72%. Mays had five seasons of at least 10 triples, one of them with 20, and Aaron had three seasons of at least 10 triples. Aaron’s OPS+, as measured by Baseball-Reference, was 156; Mays’ was 155. Mays has 13 sacrifice hits on his record, five of them in 1972 and 1973; Aaron has 21, 18 of them in 1954-1956, when he hit a total of 66 homers. Mays was intentionally walked 192 times; Aaron 293 times. (It’s helpful to remember here that Barry Bonds had 688 intentional walks, including 120 in 2004.) As for fielding, leaving other measures aside, Mays won 12 Gold Gloves in a row, 1957-1968, and Aaron won 3 Gold Gloves in a row, 1958-1960. Neither won a Gold Glove outside of those streaks.