Boston Red Sox: 30 Greatest Players in Team History

18 of 31

View image |

14: Bobby Doerr, 2B (1937-1944, 1946-1951)

A nine-time All-Star in 14 MLB seasons (all with Boston), Bobby Doerr was a consistent force in the Red Sox line-up for a long time, and is almost inarguably the best second baseman in the history of the organization. Before it’s all said and done, Dustin Pedroia may hold that title, but Doerr has undoubtedly set a high bar.

Hitting behind some of the best players of the generation, Doerr was such a consistent player for a long time. He was a strong contact hitter who could place the ball wherever he wanted, a good defensive player and showed surprising power.

He was solid in limited time in 1937, starting making a larger impact as a full-time player in 1938, but Doerr’s breakout season came in 1939 when he hit .318/.365/.448 with 12 home runs and 73 RBI. In his remaining 12 years, Doerr would never hit less than those 12 home runs and 73 RBI in a single season, including an impressive 22 home runs and 105 RBI the very next season in 1939.

Doerr’s best offensive season was probably in 1944 where he hit .325 (only two percentage points behind the league leader), and a league-leading .528 slugging percentage. Unfortunately, he was unable to build on that success, as he stepped away from the game for a year to serve his country in World War II.

Doerr returned to the Red Sox in 1946, where he helped lead them to a World Series appearance in an eventual loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. Doerr played a strong six more season after returning to the Red Sox from war before retiring after the 1951 season. He retired as the Red Sox career leader in games played (1,865), at bats (7,093), hits (2,042), doubles (381), RBI (1,247) and total bases (3,270), although none of those records still stand.

After retirement, Doerr got into scouting and eventually coaching. He was the minor league hitting coordinator for six seasons with the Red Sox, before taking the first base coach job in 1967. Doerr worked closely with Red Sox legend Carl Yastrzemski that season, and received a ton of credit for finding the power in Yastrzemski’s swing.

Yastrzemski won the Triple Crown and MVP that season, leading the Red Sox to their first American League pennant in 20 years. Doerr resigned from the Red Sox late in the 1969 season, and was not around the game again until taking a job as the hitting coach for the expansion Toronto Blue Jays franchise.

His famous number 1 jersey has been retired by the Red Sox, and while it took a while, Doerr was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1986.

Next: Number 13