Red Sox: Top 5 First Basemen in franchise history
The BoSox Injection staff ranks the top players in Boston Red Sox history at each position. We continue with first basemen.
In 2017, the Boston Red Sox will be starting the season with a possible platoon. The emergence of Hanley Ramirez as a viable first baseman in 2016, and the offseason signing of Mitch Moreland points to both players swapping between first base and DH.
But, neither player will make this list. Realistically, Hanley has an outside shot to crack the top 5 if he can continue his great production he had a year ago.
Also, while David Ortiz is one of the greatest players to ever play for the Red Sox, he is not a first basemen. Ortiz has played a total of 146 games at first in Boston. Putting him on this list would be leaving a well-qualified player off.
Boston has had a surprisingly rich history of first basemen. Some players are well-known by even the most casual fan, while some might shock die-hards. But one thing has remained constant with the 5 players that are on the list: all of them have been great contributors to the Red Sox.
While Yastrzemski is most known for being one of the best left fielders to ever play, he also was a phenomenal first baseman. Yaz ranks 5th all-time in games played at first base for the Red Sox, which is even more shocking considering he played over 1900 games at left field.
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Yaz made the shift to primarily playing first in 1973 because young Dwight Evans getting a call to the majors. He was relied on even more at first a couple years after when Jim Rice, the highly touted prospect, was called up to the majors. Obviously the Sox wanted to have Evans and Rice playing in the outfield, and also wanted to keep the powerful bat of Yaz in the lineup every night.
While Yastrzemski had only five seasons where he was primarily a first baseman, he had seven seasons where he played 50+ games at first. During those seven seasons, he managed to have a .287 average. Also, he averaged 21 home runs and 87 RBI’s.
Simply put, Carl Yastrzemski is one of the greatest players to ever play for the Red Sox. His legacy has become entrenched in Fenway Park. Not including him on this list would be a little crazy, but the fact it is not his primary position is why he is ranked at 5.
Coming in at No. 4 is a player who many fans have a warm memory of. Kevin Youkilis, otherwise known as the Greek God of Walks, spent only nine seasons in Boston, despite that he was a fan favorite, in part due to his production.
Youkilis was a highly-touted prospect in the organization, and made his major league debut in 2004. But it wasn’t until 2006 where he made a name for himself in Boston.
Youkilis was a highly effective first baseman, winning a Gold Glove in 2007. He also finished 3rd and 6th in MVP voting in 2008 and ’09, respectively. Also, in 2008 he won the Hank Aaron Award for the American League.
Youkilis made the switch from first to third base in 2011 when the Red Sox acquired Adrian Gonzalez. Had Gonzalez not come to Boston, Youkilis probably would have been at first for at least two more years.
Youkilis was a very important part of the 2007 Red Sox team that went on to win the World Series, and was a fan favorite during his entire time in Boston.
Appearing at No. 3 on the list is a former teammate of Yastrzemski. George Scott was a member of the Red Sox from 1966-71, then was dealt to the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers traded him back to Boston in 1977, where he played two and a half more seasons.
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Scott was a player who fit right into Boston. He produced at a high level, and was someone who would try to be in the lineup as much as possible. Scott won three Gold Gloves during his time in Boston, and finished 3rd in Rookie of the Year voting in 1966.
George Scott in his nine years in Boston was someone who had above average offensive output while being a defensive weapon. Scott hit .257 with 154 home runs during his time with the Red Sox. Also, he was able to drive in over 500 RBI’s.
George Scott was able to make his legacy due to his wonderful defense and his occasional offensive prowess. And while Scott was mainly known for his defense, he was able to be the third-best first baseman in the history of the Red Sox.
No. 2 on this list is none other than the man they called Hit Dog, Mo Vaughn. Vaughn spent eight seasons in Boston, and was nothing short of phenomenal.
Vaughn received a lot of accolades in Boston, but one was more important than any other. In 1995, Vaughn beat out Albert Belle to win the AL MVP award by hitting .300 with 39 homers and 126 RBI.
For everything Scott was defensively, Vaughn was offensively. From ’94-’98, he hit over .300 in every season. Vaughn’s career numbers for the Red Sox are even more outstanding. He hit .304 with 230 home runs and 752 runs batted in.
Mo Vaughn was an absolute blast to watch, and from the moment he was called up to Boston was an impact player. For most franchises, his accomplishments would have granted him the number one spot on their first basemen list, but for the Red Sox, there is one man who claims that top spot.
The man who is able to be called the greatest first-baseman in Red Sox history is none other than Jimmie Foxx. He only played for seven years in Boston, but what he did was outstanding.
Foxx was able to be a major player for Boston during his time here. He won the 1938 AL MVP, as well as winning the batting title with an average of .349. Also, he hit 50 home runs and 175 RBI’s.
During his magical 1938 season, he wasn’t just one of the best players in baseball. He was the best player by a wide margin. He led the American League that year in batting average, runs batted in, walks, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage.
In the seven seasons Foxx spent at Fenway, he hit .320 with 222 home runs and 788 runs batted in. During those years, he only hit under .300 twice and was able to average over 30 home runs in every full season he was in Boston.
Foxx was a man ahead of his time in his playing career. While he never won a World Series during his time in Boston, Foxx provided an amazing impact on the organization, producing numbers that are too eye-popping to place him anywhere else but first on this list.