This is the one I expect the most blow-back for and I’m fully ready for it. Carl Yastrzemski is one of the most beloved and iconic players in Red Sox history and is a Hall of Famer. “How on earth can he possibly be overrated?” you’re most likely asking yourself. I, too, used to think he was simply one of the greatest players of all time without question, but once I looked closely at his numbers a different reality set in.
The career numbers speak for themselves: a .285 average, 452 home runs, 1844 RBI, 3419 hits, 18 All-Star appearances, 7 Gold Gloves, 3 batting titles, an MVP award (1967), and a Triple Crown (1967). There’s no question Yaz deserves to be in Cooperstown with those accomplishments, but he’s still overrated and I’ll tell you why.
From his rookie year of 1961 through 1966, Yaz was a solid player who hit below .300 four times and over .300 twice (including a batting title in 1963 with a .321 average) while only hitting 20 home runs in a season once (1965) and never hitting 100 RBI. However, from 1967 to 1970 Yaz was one of the most feared hitters in the league, putting up the following seasons:
1967: .326 BA, 44 HR, 121 RBI, 189 H, 112 R, 91 BB, .418 OBP, 1.040 OPS (won AL MVP and Triple Crown)
1968: .301 BA, 23 HR, 74 RBI, 162 H, 90 R, 119 BB, .426 OBP, .922 OPS (won AL batting title)
1969: .255 BA, 40 HR, 111 RBI, 154 H, 96 R, 101 BB, .362 OBP, .870 OPS
1970: .329 BA, 40 HR, 102 RBI, 186 H, 125 R, 128 BB, .452 OBP, 1.044 OPS
After that, though? From 1971 to 1983 (his final season), he only hit over .300 once (.301 in 1974), only hit over 20 home runs in a season three times (21 in 1976, 28 in 1977, and 21 in 1979), only topped 100 RBI twice (102 each in 1976 and 1977), while mostly staying in the .250-.270 BA, 12-17 HR, 50-80 RBI range. And all this while still playing 140+ games in almost every season.
Yaz was a very good player who endeared himself to fans with how hard he played and how often he played through injuries. However, apart from that four season spurt of dominance in the late 1960s, his career and his numbers are more a testament to his longevity and steady (if unspectacular) production. I love Yaz as much as any Red Sox fan does, but looking at the overall numbers, those are simply the facts. He is overrated.