A fifth installment mirroring Boston Red Sox players of the present with one from my memories of the past. This is the second basemen – Brock Holt to Billy Goodman.
The Red Sox comparison at second base is somewhat muddled with the absence of Dustin Pedroia who most certainly could be easily compared to Bobby Doerr, but Pedroia is a large 2019 question mark. Then Ian Kinsler has moved on and that leaves Eduardo Nunez as a possibility for second base, but Holt did play second for 56 games in 2018 and has other connections that strike my memory.
Holt and Billy Goodman have some common threads. Both hit left-handed, both are considered utility players, neither was or is considered exceptional defensively, and both represent a baseball MENSA level IQ.
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Goodman had limited power and that can be demonstrated with just 14 home runs in 1,177 games with the Red Sox, but other offensive statistics jump out. Goodman won a batting title in 1950 (.354) and finished with a .300 career average. And there is more.
Goodman had great plate presences and bat control striking out just 329 times in 6,447 plate appearances. Holt exhibits the same style of gritty tough at-bats as Goodman did and we have seen some of his heroics. Another Goodman note is he finished his MLB career with an outstanding .376 OBP and a career .330 average at Fenway Park.
Goodman was usually a player without a position in spring training, but after Doerr retired, he took over second base for the majority of his games. That did not stop the Red Sox from moving Goodman around the diamond based on need and injury. I remember Goodman being shifted to third base in 1954 when the Red Sox traded George Kell to the other Sox.
Defensively the Goodman I remember was Holt like in the field – not flashy and capable of playing solid, but unremarkable defense. I always thought Goodman was best suited for first base where he played his second-most career games (406).
Holt and Goodman both became All-Stars and Goodman in 1950 finished second to the Yankees Phil Rizzuto in the American League Most Valuable Player balloting. One part of the game that is exceedingly difficult is pinch-hitting and both Holt (.283) and Goodman (.259) are good off the bench.
As a fan and personal favorite, it was tough to see Goodman sent packing in a trade to Baltimore for Mike Fornieles in the early part of 1957. Goodman was coming off a .293 season in 1956 but had slumped in the early going for 1957, but Goodman turned that around and hit .308 for the Birds.
In the 1957 offseason Goodman got a break and was traded to the White Sox and responded by hitting .299 for his last high production season, but in 1959 the Go-Go White Sox won the American League pennant and Goodman got a chance to finally play in a World Series before closing out his career in 1962 with Houston hitting an un-Goodman like .255.
After retiring as a player Goodman stayed in baseball as a minor league manager and as a coach at the minor and major league level before retiring from baseball to become an antique dealer. Goodman lost a battle with cancer and died at just 58-years-old.
The Goodman I saw I see in Holt, but baseball today is a different style, but players like Holt and Goodman span the differences based on their ability to squeeze as much out of their talents as possible. Players who know the game and realize the importance of the little things.