In Arnold Hano’s biography of Mays, he tells the story of Willie's arrival in Phoenix for Spring Training. He had been in the Army for most of ‘52 and all of ‘53.
“As a grinning Mays trotted out of the tunnel, flashbulbs popped and a Giant official said, “There’s the pennant.” Durocher bear hugged his centerfielder and declared, “Here’s the key to our pennant.”
Mays had a 10.6 WAR in ’54, his best until 11.1 in 1964 and 11.2 in 1965. In ’54, Willie led the league in batting (345), slugging (.667), OPS+ 175 and triples 13.
And if I could borrow a Hanoesque phrase – oh by the way, Mays took MVP honors and the Giants swept Cleveland.