Red Sox historic trials and tribulations at third base
By Rick McNair
THE SOLID PROS
The top of my list is Frank Malzone, who could catch them and hit them. A bowlegged right-hand hitter with surprising power. Malzone was one stand out success of the Red Sox farm system in the 1950’s. Owner Tom Yawkey tossed around bonus bucks to sign every kid with a pulse. Malzone signed for $100.
Malzone made six All-Star teams and won three Gold Gloves before Brooks Robinson took over the award at third base. Malzone hit .276 in his 11 Boston years and hit 131 home runs in the process.
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Mike Lowell was considered a toss-in when the Red Sox acquired Josh Beckett. Lowell was coming off a .236 season in Miami and whispers were he was baseball old at 31-years-old. The right-handed hitting Lowell rebounded in 2006, then in 2007 he hit .324 with 120 RBI. A solid two-way player.
John Valentin was an average shortstop, but an above-average third baseman. In three seasons Val ranked second defensively among third sackers. This guy could hit and had a .289 career average at Fenway Park.
Another shortstop who moved to third was Rico Petrocelli. Petrocelli’s first full season at third was 1971 and by 1976 his Boston career was over. A powerful right-hand hitter who once hit 40 home runs while playing short. Petrocelli hit 28 out in his first season playing third.
Solid at first and solid at third was Kevin Youkilis. I will omit his Hanley Ramirez type adventures in the outfield. A nice right-hand bat and excellent defense. A dirt dog to the fullest.
My difficult choice for this group is left-handed hitting Scott Cooper, who had replaced Boggs. Cooper was, however, a two-time All-Star with the Red Sox and a noted line drive hitter. Cooper was also ranked third among American League third basemen defensively in 1993-94. An underrated defensive player, but prone to throwing errors. Traded to St. Louis and was out of the majors by 1997.