Nomar Garciaparra burst out to the gate a few short years after being drafted with the No. 12 overall pick in 1994.
At only 23 years old, Garciaparra was a star in his first full season in the majors. He won the Rookie of the Year award in ’97, hitting .306 with a .875 OPS, 30 home runs, and a league-leading 11 triples. That also earned him a Silver Slugger and his first of five All-Star appearances in a Red Sox uniform.
The following year, Nomar finished second on the AL MVP ballot when he set career-highs with 35 home runs and 122 RBI. He went on to win batting titles in each of the next two seasons, including when he hit .372 in 2000. That’s the closest a Red Sox hitter has come to hitting .400 since Ted Williams did it in 1941.
Garciaparra hit .323/.370/.553 over parts of nine seasons in Boston. The 2004 trade that sent him to the Chicago Cubs and brought sparkplug Orlando Cabrera to the Red Sox is credited as one of the turning points that led to the club’s historic curse-breaking World Series run. That took some of the shine off Nomar’s tenure but we can’t forget that he was a Boston icon for many years prior.
Injuries conspired to derail the rest of his career, preventing Garciaparra from recapturing the production of his glory years with the Red Sox. However, we’re not concerned with what he did for other franchises. Nomar was one of the best hitters of his generation and one of the faces of the franchise for nearly a decade.