Boston Red Sox: Top 5 second baseman in franchise history
The BoSox Injection staff ranks the top handful of players in Boston Red Sox history at each position.
The fourth part of an ongoing series here at BoSox Injection, this article will rank the top-5 second baseman in franchise history. If you missed our lists on Starting Pitchers, Catchers, or First Baseman they’re all available by clicking the hyperlinks.
While defense is the primary tool for measuring a catcher, and first baseman are valued by their offensive production, a good second baseman is expected to do a little bit of everything. With that in mind, this list will rank the greatest to play the position in Red Sox history based on their performance and importance to the franchise.
Jerry Remy: 1978-1984
The Rem Dawg spent the last seven of his ten-year career with the Red Sox, making one all-star team in 1978. He would never be described as an impactful hitter, his .668 OPS as a member of the Red Sox left something to be desired, but he was the hardest man in baseball to strikeout during the 1983 season. Remy earns an honorable mention for his impact on the franchise, a fan favourite he’s been a broadcaster with NESN since 1988, was elected the first President of Red Sox Nation in 2007, and named the second reserve on the All-Fenway Team.
Pete Runnels: 1958-1962
He didn’t have the longest career with the Red Sox, but his on-field performance dictates a spot on this list. In his five seasons with the club, he never hit less than .314 and was a two-time batting champion in 1960 and ’62. Runnels would have had a third batting title in 1958, were it not for his teammate Ted Williams. He hit .322 that year, bested by Williams’ mark of .326.
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Runnels was one of the most productive second baseman to ever wear a Red Sox uniform. His career wRC+ of 126 is second all-time and his .408 OBP ranks first, 20 points higher than the closest mark. Despite playing just five seasons with the team, his impact bat and steady defense produced 19.8 fWAR, an average of 3.9 per year.
The three-time all-star had his best seasons in Boston, later returning as an interim manager in the 1966 season. He was also inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2004.
Marty Barrett: 1982-1990.
A master of small-ball, the diminutive Barrett led the league in sacrifice hits from 1986-1988. In his 9-year career with the Red Sox, he hit .278/.338/.347 across 928 games with a 1.47 strikeout-to-walk ratio. However, he was most effective in the postseason owning a .333 batting average and .387 OPS. Included in his October success was the 1986 World Series in which he had a .514 OBP.
Barrett posted a career high in batting average during his first year as a starter, hitting .303 in 1984. But his most productive season came in 1986 when he posted personal bests in runs (94), hits (179), doubles (39), triples (4), steals (15), walks (65) and total bases (238). His aforementioned postseason performance would earn him ALCS MVP honours in that same season.
Solidifying his place among the greatest Red Sox players in franchise history, Barett was inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2012.
Billy Goodman: 1947-1957
Prior to Dustin Pedroia, Billy Goodman was the Sox’ longest tenured second baseman behind Bobby Doerr. Eventually Doerr’s replacement, Goodman carried on in his footsteps earning All-Star honors in two seasons and finishing second in MVP voting in 1950. A career year, he set personal bests in RBI (68), batting average (.354), OBP (.427) and slugging (.455).
Arguably the most versatile player of his era, Goodman played at least 100 games at second, third, first, and the outfield.
Goodman’s true value came at the plate as he never posted an average below .293 while a member of the Red Sox. The left-hander ranks third all-time among franchise second baseman in runs (688), RBI (464) and average (.306). His contributions in a Red Sox uniform were eventually honored when he was named to their hall of fame in 2004.
Bobby Doerr: 1937-1944, 1946-1951
The only Baseball Hall of Fame member on the list, Doerr spent the entirety of his major league career with the Boston Red Sox. His commitment to the team was only rivalled by his patriotism as he sacrificed the entirety 1945 season to serve in the military.
One of baseball’s all-time greats at the position, Doerr was a nine-time all-star in the American League . Arguably the best defensive second baseman of his era, turned more double plays (1, 507) and had more putouts (4,928) and assists (5,710) than anyone else at the keystone position during his career.
A legend at the plate as well, Doerr’s 223 career home runs, 1,247 RBI and 1,094 runs scored are tops all-time among Red Sox second baseman. He began a string of 12 consecutive seasons with 10+ home runs and at least 73 RBI in 1939. A season later, Doerr along with Ted Williams, Jimmie Foxx, and Joe Cronin each drove in more than 105 runs – making the Red Sox the 12th team in MLB history to have four players with greater than 100 RBI in a season.
His number 1 was retired by the Red Sox alongside teammates’ Williams (#9) and Cronin (#4) in 1988.
Dustin Pedroia: 2006-Present
The spirit of the Red Sox, Pedroia has taken on the role of clubhouse leader following David Ortiz‘s retirement. After just his second MLB season, the diminutive second baseman found himself on a short-list among baseball’s elite: becoming just the eighth player in MLB history to win Rookie of the Year, Most Valuable Player, a Gold Glove and a World Series ring.
Held back by his comparative games played, Pedroia is second behind Bobby Doerr among Red Sox second baseman in the following categories: hits (2,042), home runs (133), doubles (375), runs (874), RBI (662) and fWAR (46.2). Pedroia’s elite defensive abilities, represented by his four Gold Gloves, bridges the current offensive gap between him and Doerr. With 467 fewer games, he’s just 7.1 fWAR behind Doerr’s career mark of 53.3.
Based on his current career pace, and the assumption that he plays out the remainder of his contract, Pedroia should pass Bobby Doerr in hits, doubles, and runs within the next three seasons. Going on fWAR alone, Pedroia’s average of 4.7 wins per season since 2007 would have him pass Doerr as the most valuable second baseman in Sox history by the end of the 2018 season alone.
Pedroia’s become a fan favorite in Boston based on his exceptional performance, but also a personality that compensates for his undersized build. If he isn’t the greatest Red Sox second baseman in franchise history now, it won’t be long until he is.