Boston Red Sox top 25-man roster in franchise history
By Sean Penney
Bench – Outfielder
Career Stats: .283/.360/.484, 306 HR, 1111 RBI, 72 SB, 49.2 WAR
With Red Sox: .308/.383/.520, 124 HR, 521 RBI, 43 SB, 30.7 WAR
If there is a center fielder who could challenge the case that Dom DiMaggio is the greatest center fielder in team history, it would be Fred Lynn. The Red Sox drafted Lynn in the second round of the 1973 draft. Lynn pounded 27 homers over a little more than a minor league season, earning a September call-up in 1974 in which he posted a remarkable .419/.480/.698 line over 51 plate appearances. Lynn would start in center field for the Red Sox for the next seven seasons.
1975 was a tremendous year for the Red Sox and for Lynn. Playing a spectacular center field, Lynn earned both Rookie of the Year and American League Most Valuable Player awards, leading the league in runs, doubles, slugging percentage and OPS. The Red Sox overcame the memory of late season meltdowns in 1972 and 1974, to take the American League East crown in 1975. In the playoffs the Red Sox dispatched the three time defending World Champion Oakland Athletics in three straight games (it was best of five then) to get to their first World Series in eight years. The frightening Lynn crash into the center field wall in the incredible Game Six of the World Series, which was won by the Fisk home run in the 12th inning, was a preview of things to come for Lynn.
Lynn’s all-out center field play earned him four Gold Gloves but made it difficult him to stay on the field, playing 150 games only one time in Boston (and his whole career). After the crushing disappointment of 1978, Lynn came back with a vengeance in 1979. The native Californian led the league that year in batting average (his lone batting title), OBP and Slugging Percentage, pounding 39 homers and knocking in 122 runs, but came in fourth in the MVP voting despite this performance. Lynn would have been the runaway winner if that had happened this season as his WAR was 8.8, compared with MVP Don Baylor‘s 3.7.
1980 was another injury plagued season for Lynn, who played in only 110 games, once again slumping from the glory of the previous season. The Red Sox traded him to the Angels after that season, breaking the hearts of many Red Sox fans, including my own. While with the Angels, Lynn hit the only grand slam in All-Star game history in 1983. He finished his career with a .347/440/.601 batting line in 440 games at Fenway Park.
An All-Star for all of his seven full seasons in Boston, Lynn will always have a special place in the hearts of Red Sox fans who grew up with him as their center fielder. He is an easy choice to be part of the All-Time 25 man roster.
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