Boston Red Sox: 30 Greatest Players in Team History

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2: Carl Yastrzemski, OF (1961-1983)

From the moment he made his big league debut in 1961 there was a ton of pressure on Carl Yastrzemski. Taking over for an absolute legend as the Red Sox everyday left fielder, Yastrzemski certainly had some big shoes to fill. As an elite defender and solid contact hitter, Yastrzemski was not flashy, but reliable in his first two seasons.

In 1963, he started to come into his own at the plate, leading the league in batting average (.321), on-base percentage (.428), hits (183) and doubles (40). Add in Gold Glove award-winning defense in left field, and the Red Sox had a great player on their hands. Yastrzemski was great, but his lack of power prevented him from becoming a star. That was, until his legendary season in 1967.

It all came together for Yastrzemski in “The Year of the Yaz” in 1967. With already elite contact ability, Yastrzemski was able to unlock his power in 1967, allowing him to turn in arguably the best offensive season of all-time.

Yaz won the Triple Crown in 1967, leading the league with a .326 batting average, 44 home runs and 121 RBI. Yastrzemski also led the league in runs (112), hits (189), on-base percentage (.418), slugging percentage (.622) and total bases (360). Always an opposite field doubles hitter, Yaz was able to unlock his pull power in 1967, and it led to a historic season. He obviously won the American League MVP.

Yastrzemski will always be remembered for 1967, but he continued to have an incredible career after that. He played 23 MLB seasons (all with Boston), was an 18-time All-Star (including 15 in a row from 1964-1979) and won seven Gold Glove awards.

With such a long and storied career, Yaz is the Red Sox all-time leader in RBI, runs, hits, doubles, total bases and games played. He has second most home runs in franchise history with 452 career bombs.

A legitimate Red Sox legend, the team retired Yaztrzemski’s number eight in 1989. That was also the year he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, receiving 95% of the votes on his first time being eligible.

Next: Number One