Red Sox: Top five center fielders in Boston’s franchise history

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Sep 18, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; The Boston Red Sox take batting practice prior to a game against the New York Yankees at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 18, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; The Boston Red Sox take batting practice prior to a game against the New York Yankees at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports /

Fred Lynn

Lynn took the league by storm out of the gate, capturing both the Rookie of the Year and MVP awards in 1975. He hit .331 and led the league with a .967 OPS, 103 runs scored and 47 doubles, while earning the first of four career Gold Gloves. The Red Sox rode Lynn’s outstanding rookie season all the way to the World Series that year, where they ultimately fell short to the Cincinnati Reds.

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An All-Star in all six full seasons that he spent in Boston, Lynn established himself as one of the top outfielders of his era. His best season came in 1979 when he led the league in each of the slash line categories by hitting .333/.423/.637, while setting career-highs with 39 home runs and 122 RBI. Somehow he only managed to finish fourth in MVP voting that year.

Lynn was a fearless center fielder, but his all-out mentality could also work against him. He played defense with reckless abandon, turning the act of crashing into walls to make a catch an art form. Unfortunately that style of play limited his time on the field, as Lynn managed to appear in 150 games only once in his career.

He left to join the California Angels in 1981, but Lynn finished his career in Boston with a stellar .308/.383/.520 line in a Red Sox uniform. He ranks second in franchise history at the position with a .398 wOBA and 142 wRC+, while his 30.7 fWAR is fourth.

The Red Sox inducted Lynn into their Hall of Fame in 2002, where he’s enshrined alongside former teammates Jim Rice, Dwight Evans and Carl Yastrzemski.