Red Sox: Top five center fielders in Boston’s franchise history
By Sean Penney
Many fans may not be familiar with Speaker, who last played for this franchise over a century ago, but in his day he was quite a player.
Speaker played in the dead ball era when 10 home runs was enough to lead the league, which he did in 1912 to earn the AL MVP. He also led the league with 53 doubles that season, an accomplishment that would become a recurring theme throughout his career. Speaker hit 792 doubles over 22 seasons, which still stands as the major league record.
Speed was also a significant part of his game. Speaker swiped 267 bags in his career, most among any Red Sox center fielder and second most at any position behind Harry Hooper‘s franchise record 300.
Speaker leads all center fielders in franchise history with a .337 average, .414 OBP, .428 wOBA, 163 wRC+ and 54.4 WAR.
He was also an elite defensive player, praised for his range and arm. He was known for playing a shallow center field, which allowed him to lead the league in outfield assists three times, but he also had the speed to race back for an over the shoulder catch when necessary.
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Speaker was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1937, where his plaque is inscribed with the words “Greatest centerfielder of his day.” He was enshrined as a member of the Cleveland Indians, where he spent 11 seasons after Boston traded him following the 1915 season, in which Speaker led the Red Sox to the second World Series title of his career.