Red Sox face Mike Yastrzemski, grandson of a franchise legend
By Sean Penney
The San Francisco Giants come to town along with rookie Mike Yastrzemski, the grandson of Boston Red Sox legend Carl Yastrzemski.
The name Yastrzemski will patrol the outfield at Fenway Park for the first time in over 30 years. No, the 80-year old Carl Yastrzemski isn’t lacing up his cleats for a comeback. Boston Red Sox fans will be treated to a flash of nostalgia with his grandson coming to town though.
Mike Yastrzemski, the rookie outfielder for the San Francisco Giants, will make his first appearance this week in the ballpark his grandfather called home for his entire Hall of Fame career.
The elder Yastrzemski had an incredible 23-year career with the Red Sox. He’s the franchise’s all-time leader with 3308 games played, 1816 runs scored, 1844 RBI, 3419 hits, and 646 doubles. The 18-time All-Star trails only Ted Williams (130.4) in career WAR produced in a Red Sox uniform (94.8), according to FanGraphs.
Yaz was a Triple Crown winner in 1967 when he hit .326 with 44 home runs and 121 RBI, earning the MVP award while leading the Red Sox to the American League pennant. Boston would ultimately fall in the World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games but it was through no fault of Yastrzemski, who hit .400 with three homers in the series.
The younger Yastrzemski arrives without the accolades and far less fanfare. Only a very famous name and 96 big league games under his belt.
Yastrzemski is having a solid rookie campaign with the Giants, batting .265/.324/.509 in 328 at-bats. His below-average 7.2 BB% and a high strikeout rate of 26.2 K% show he hasn’t quite developed his grandfather’s keen batting eye. Carl wasn’t quite elite yet in those categories as a rookie either but that was when he was 21 years old. Mike is 29, not exactly young for a rookie.
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Yastrzemski has shown a surprising amount of pop in his early career with 19 home runs. Impressive for a partial season, especially considering his extremely pitcher-friendly home ballpark in San Francisco. Yaz never topped 15 home runs in any season during his minor league career and his .509 slugging percentage tops any he produced in previous years at the lower levels. He did post a .676 SLG with 12 homers in only 40 games at the Triple-A level this year before his major league debut but this power surge is certainly new this year.
It remains to be seen if the Giants will use Yastrzemski in left field under the shadow of the Green Monster that his grandfather spent most of his career in. The elder Yaz spent time at all three outfield positions but the majority of his career was spent in left. Mike has split time almost equally at each corner outfield spot this year with a handful of appearances in center field.
We can expect the elder Yaz to make an appearance at Fenway this week in what should be an emotional experience seeing his grandson play against his former team.
It may be the tail end of a lost season for the Red Sox but moments like this are ones that shouldn’t be missed.