Marty Barrett is one of my favorite players on this list, one who I remember watching as a kid and liking a lot back then. Having re-watched the 1986 ALCS (which I’ve written about) and 1986 World Series (article forthcoming), I’ve gained an even deeper appreciation for how good he was and how criminally underrated he remains among Red Sox fans.
Barrett made my list of top ten Red Sox players from the 1980s, but he merits inclusion on this list as well. He played the first nine seasons of his ten-year career with the Red Sox between 1982 and 1990 (finishing up with a 12 game stint with the San Diego Padres in 1991). He was an excellent defensive second baseman who finished his career with a .986 fielding percentage and only 63 errors.
At the plate, he was a great contact hitter; think of him as a right-handed analogue to Wade Boggs, though obviously not hitting for as high an average. He alternated with Boggs in the leadoff or two spot in the order and while his career numbers of a .244 average with 17 home runs and 311 RBI don’t scream greatness, they are deceiving.
First, Barrett only struck out 206 times in his entire Red Sox career, striking out 50 times in 1985 but never more than 38 times the remainder of his career. His career average is brought down by his rookie year (when he hit .056) and his final, injury-plagued season in Boston when he hit .226. During his best years of 1985 to 1988, he hit .266, .286, .293, and .283, respectively.
His best season was 1986 when he hit .286 with 4 home runs, 60 RBI, 179 hits, 94 runs scored, 65 walks, and 15 stolen bases. He was fantastic that postseason, hitting .367 with 5 RBI and two walks (and only two strikeouts!) while playing in all seven games of the 1986 ALCS en route to winning the ALCS MVP award.
Barrett was even better in the 1986 World Series, hitting .433 with 4 RBI, 5 walks, and again only two strikeouts (while putting up a .514 OBP and 1.014 OPS) and was a serious contender for World Series MVP (along with teammate Bruce Hurst) before the Red Sox lost the series in seven heartbreaking games.
Marty Barrett was one of the best second baseman in the league during the 1980s and deserves to be remembered as such.