This is the second article in a series that looks at the five best players at each position for the Boston Red Sox. In this installment, first and third basemen.
The Red Sox corner infield positions are split along certain criteria. The first basemen are all about power while the third basemen are the contact hitters and run producers. The starters at each spot are Hall of Famers, and there is one current player who might be good enough to get inducted one day if the stars align.
The Best Corner Infielders in Boston Red Sox History
Honorable Mention – Phil Todt – A solid fielder who spent seven of his eight Major League seasons with Boston (1924-30). In 895 games, Todt had 832 hits and drove in 410 runs. His best season was 1925 when he posted career highs with a .278 average and 75 RBIs to go with 11 home runs.
5. George Scott – He was a two-time All-Star and a three-time gold glove winner during nine seasons with the Red Sox (1966-71 and 77-79). Scott had 1,088 hits, 154 home runs, and 562 RBIs in 1,192 games. His best season was 1966 when he was selected to the All-Star team and finished tied for third in the Rookie of the Year voting after hitting 27 home runs and driving in 90 runs.
4. Carl Yastrzemski – The Hall of Famer spent five years at first base (1970 and 73-76), but he spent far more of his lengthy career in the outfield, so more of the profile will be covered there. Yaz made the All-Star team each year at the position and totaled 462 runs scored (including leading the league twice), 793 hits, 109 home runs, 438 runs batted in and a .292 average in 765 games.
3. Kevin Youkilis – There are so many superstars and Hall of Famers that will appear on these lists for the Red Sox, but not many of them have the two World Series Championships “Youk” does. He was a three-time All-Star and a gold glove winner in the 2007 title season. His best year at the plate was the following season when he posted career highs with a .312 average, 168 hits, 29 home runs, and 115 RBIs and finished third in the MVP voting (won by teammate Dustin Pedroia, whose career will be explored in an upcoming article). In nine years with Boston, Youkilis played in 953 games and hit .287 with 961 hits, 133 home runs, and 564 runs batted in. He did not play in the 2004 World Series and had limited success in 2007, he hit .306 with six home runs and 17 RBIs in 29 postseason games.
2. Mo Vaughn – He excelled the decade before Youkilis arrived and the Red Sox had their greatest success. Vaughn was a three-time All-Star who was the American League’s MVP in 1995. That season, the “Hit Dog” earned All-Star and silver slugger honors after hitting .300 with 39 home runs, and he tied for the league lead with 126 runs batted in. Vaughn played in 1,046 games in eight seasons (1991-98) totaling 628 runs (two seasons with at least 100), 1,165 hits (two seasons with at least 200), 230 home runs (a total that ranks seventh in team history, and includes four straight years with at least 30) and 752 RBIs (four seasons with at least 100). He left the Red Sox after a contract dispute, signing a big contract with the Angels. However, his career was cut short due to injury, including a ruptured tendon in his arm that caused him to miss the entire 2001 season and knee issues in later years.
1. Jimmie Foxx – The greatest first baseman in Red Sox history spent seven seasons in Boston after being acquired in a trade with the Philadelphia Athletics in late 1935. “Double X” was a Triple Crown winner, a two-time MVP, and a three-time All-Star with the A’s, and he only added to those numbers with the Red Sox. He went over 100 RBIs six times with Boston and reached 100 runs, 150 hits, and 30 home runs five times each. His best season by far in front of the Fenway Faithful was 1938, when he hit a league-best .349, drove in a league-high and franchise-record 175 runs, scored 139 runs, had 197 hits, and smacked 50 home runs to win the MVP award.
Foxx was runner-up the following year, and he was selected to six All-Star teams with Boston. In Red Sox history, he tied for fifth in batting average (.320) and sits eighth in RBIs (788) and ninth in home runs (222). Foxx’s great career (in which he hit 534 homers) was a bit overshadowed by injury and alcohol issues, and he retired in 1945. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1951 and died in 1967 after choking while eating dinner with his brother.
Honorable Mentions – Johnny Pesky split his eight seasons in Boston between third base and shortstop. He missed three years (1943-45) due to military service and lead the league with more than 200 hits in his first three official seasons, including 1946, when he earned his only All-Star selection after posting 208 hits, 115 runs, and a .335 average. Pesky played 1,029 games, totaling 776 runs, 1,277 hits, 361 RBIs, and a .313 average (tied for ninth in team history). He is best known for having the right field foul pole at Fenway Park named the Pesky Pole by broadcaster Mel Parnell in 2006. Pesky spent more than seven decades with Boston as a player, coach, instructor, and scout, and he was given championship rings when the Red Sox won the World Series in both 2004 and 2007.
Speaking of the 2007 World Series championship, Mike Lowell was the starter on that team, hitting .324 with 191 hits, 21 home runs, and 120 runs batted in while earning his only All-Star selection with Boston. In the postseason, all he did was amass 18 hits, two home runs, and 15 RBIs in 15 games while earning World Series MVP honors. In five seasons with the Red Sox (2006-10), Lowell hit .290 with 650 hits, 80 homers, and 374 RBIs in 612 games.
5. Larry Gardner – He spent ten seasons with Boston (1908-17), hitting .282 with 1,106 hits and 481 RBIs in 1,123 games. Gardner’s best year was the 1912 title season when he posted his best numbers with Boston (a .315 average, 88 runs, 163 hits 24 doubles, 18 triples, and 86 runs batted in to go with 25 stolen bases). Overall, he ranks fifth in franchise history with 87 triples and seventh with 134 steals. Gardner was a starter on three championship teams and had three home runs and 11 RBIs in 18 World Series games.
4. Jimmy Collins – After six seasons with the Beaneaters, he moved to the crosstown rival Americans when the team started play in 1901. Collins spent seven seasons with Boston’s American League franchise, amassing 881 hits, 385 runs batted in, and a .296 average in 741 games. He was part of the first modern World Series title team, totaling nine hits and three stolen bases in Boston’s eight-game win over Pittsburgh in 1903. Collins was traded to the Philadelphia Athletics during the 1907 season and retired the following year. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1945.
3. Rafael Devers – The only current player on either of these lists has earned two All-Star selections and one silver slugger award. In 2019, Devers produced 129 runs scored, 201 hits, a league-leading 54 doubles, 32 home runs, and 115 runs batted in while hitting .311, Two years later, he earned his first All-Star nod while putting up 101 runs, 165 hits, 38 homers and 113 RBIs. Devers has eight home runs and 26 RBIs in 26 postseason games, and he had two runs batted in during a five-game Red Sox win over the Dodgers in the 2018 World Series.
2. Frank Malzone – A sometimes overshadowed player on the Red Sox teams of the 1950s and 1960s, Malzone finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting in 1957 after hitting .292 with 185 hits, 15 home runs, and 103 runs batted in. The eight-time All-Star and three-time gold glove winner hit .276 with 1,454 hits, 131 homers, and 716 RBIs in 1,359 games over 11 seasons (1955-65).
1. Wade Boggs – There is very little he couldn’t do. Need someone who could hit for average? Boggs hit over .300 in ten straight seasons, led the league five times, and his .338 overall mark is second in team history. Want him to get a timely hit? He ranks fifth on the franchise list with 2,098, including at least 200 in seven seasons and a team-record 240 in 1985. Boggs also ranked fifth in doubles (422) and seventh in both runs scored (1,067) and total bases (2,689). Just to prove he was a run producer, Boggs hit 85 home runs and (including 24 in 1987) and drove in 687 runs in 1,625 games in 11 seasons (1982-92). He was an eight-time All-Star and a six-time silver slugger who had 28 hits and drove in nine runs in 22 playoff games with the Red Sox.
Off the field, Boggs was known for his superstitions, such as wearing the same socks for every game or eating chicken before every game, but you can’t argue with the results. However, his legacy was tarnished a bit due to a highly publicized affair in the late 1980s. Boggs couldn’t help the Red Sox break the “Curse of the Bambino,” but he did win a World Series title with the rival Yankees in 1996 and then became the only player to join the 3,000-hit club by hitting a home run when he did so for the then-Devil Rays in 1999. He retired after the season and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2005.
Boston Red Sox Catchers and Managers
Boston Red Sox Second Basemen and Shortstops – coming soon
Boston Red Sox Outfielders and Designated Hitters – coming soon
Boston Red Sox Pitchers – coming soon
A look back at the Baltimore Orioles
Baltimore Orioles Catchers and Managers
Baltimore Orioles First and Third Basemen
Baltimore Orioles Second Basemen and Shortstops
Baltimore Orioles Outfielders and Designated Hitters
Baltimore Orioles Pitchers
A look back at the Atlanta Braves
A look back at the Arizona Diamondbacks