Boston Red Sox: 30 Greatest Players in Team History

31 of 31

View image |

1: Ted Williams, OF (1939-1942, 1946-1960)

When putting together this list, I was pretty unsure how I was going to rank everyone. You know the names. Ortiz, Yastrzemski, Pedro, Manny, Ruth, but how will they all come together? At the time, I only knew one thing for sure, Ted Williams was going to be number one. The other guys are great, but Teddy Ballgame is the best player in Red Sox history.

Arguably the greatest pure hitter to ever play the game, Williams burst onto the scene as a rookie for the Red Sox in 1939. He hit an incredible .327/.436/.609 with 31 home runs and a league-leading 145 RBI. Right out of the gate, Williams was one of the best players in the game.

He was great again in 1940, leading the league in on-base percentage (.442) and runs score 134, but became an instant legend for his 1941 season. Williams hit an incredible .406/.553/.735 which all led the league. His 135 runs scored, 37 home runs and 147 walks were also league leaders. Somehow, he came in second in MVP voting to Joe DiMaggio.

More from Chowder and Champions

Williams’ 1941 season was one of the greatest of all-time. His .406 batting average that season is not only the highest in Red Sox history, but the best average in all of baseball since 1924. His .553 on-base percentage and .735 slugging percentage are also Red Sox records, and the OBP was an MLB record until 2002.

As if 1941 was not good enough, Williams backed that up with a Triple Crown season in 1942, leading the league in batting average (.356), home runs (36) and RBI (137). For good measure, he also led the league in runs (141), walks (145), OBP (.499) and SLG (.648). He finished in second place in MVP voting again in 1942.

Like most of the players in his era, Williams missed the next three seasons for serving his country in World War II. There was some controversy of Williams’ appeal on being drafted, which hurt his popularity, but he eventually did serve in the military.

Losing three years in his prime may have hurt some players, but not Ted Williams. He returned to the Red Sox in 1946 and immediately put up another incredible season. This time, actually taking home the American League MVP award.

He continued to be a dominant force in the middle of the Red Sox line-up for many years, continually leading the league in batting average and especially on-base percentage. He also won another Triple Crown in 1947.

Williams took home another MVP award in 1949, leading the league in many categories including his 43 home runs and 159 RBI.

In his 19 MLB seasons (all with Boston) Williams was a 17-time All-Star selection, two-time MVP, two-time Triple Crown winner, six-time batting champion and led the league in home runs four times. His .482 career on-base percentage is an MLB record, while his .344 career batting average is the highest for any player who has hit more than 302 home runs.

Next: Looking Back at Historic 2004 Boston Red Sox

Williams holds numerous Red Sox records including batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. His 521 career home runs are also the most in Red Sox history.

With an incredibly patient approach, Williams was an advanced hitter for his era. He has an unbelievable eye for the strike zone, ridiculous contact ability and elite power. Williams truly was the total offensive package, and is arguably the greatest hitter in the history of the game.