Red Sox Memories: Greatest outfields in franchise history
By Rick McNair
Just what could have been starting in 1967 with an outfield of Reggie Smith, Carl Yastrzemski, and Tony Conigliaro. Yaz is now enshrined in the HOF and Smith was eventually traded. Smith was a switch-hitter and a five-tool player, but only on occasion. An excellent centerfielder with a great arm.
Conigliaro was on the cusp of being a baseball superstar and a vaunted right-handed slugger who may have finished with 500+ career home runs. Jack Hamilton ended all that and Tony C. never recovered and was traded.
I never realized what an accomplished outfielder Tony Armas was as I also picture him as just a slugger. Armas played four seasons with the Red Sox and in 1984 hit 43 home runs and knocked in 123 RBI – both led the AL. Teamed with Jim Rice and Dwight Evans this was a good outfield even with Rice’s questionable defense.
As the decades rolled by Manny Ramirez was teamed with some excellent players such as Johnny Damon, Trot Nixon, and even though I hate to write it – J.D. Drew. But in the baseball free agency age, keeping players together for five seasons is a remarkable task.
The combination of Jackie Bradley jr, Andrew Benintendi, and Mookie Betts is finished before they put in five years together, but maybe that book is not closed? Bradley could be re-signed and Betts could return, but that is a low probability.
Together they had the defense and the offense may be weighted more heavily with Betts providing the bulk of the punch. The signs were promising as they are ranked among the best in the last four seasons and even topped in 2018 with a 23.1 fWAR thanks to Betts. Defensively FanGraphs had the Red Sox first in 2016 – Benintendi played only 34 games – and first in 2017 when Benintendi was a full-time player.