Red Sox outfielder Carl Yastrzemski
Carl Yastrzemski spent his entire 23-year career with the Red Sox. His uncanny longevity places him near the top of many categories in franchise history but also works against him in some regards.
Yastrzemski is the franchise’s all-time leader with 3308 games played and 13991 plate appearances. Leading those categories by a significant margin allowed him to pile up plenty of counting stats, which is why he also leads Red Sox hitters with 1816 runs scored and 1844 RBI. His 452 home runs are third-most in franchise history.
Playing until his age 43 season had negative consequences on other statistics though. His .285 career average is solid but unspectacular. However, that average is dragged down by some mediocre seasons when he was hanging on late in his career. During his peak, Yaz was an excellent hitter who won three batting titles.
We should also note the era that he played in. The first eight seasons of his career came prior to when MLB lowered the mound and shrank the strike zone in 1969 in an effort to increase offense. This action was in response to the “Year of the Pitcher” when 22 pitchers posted a sub-2.00 ERA and Bob Gibson had a historic MVP season on the mound. In a year dominated by pitching, Yaz still led the league with a .301 average and .922 OPS.
The best season of his career was in 1967 when Yastrzemski hit .326 with 44 home runs and 121 RBI to capture the Triple Crown and MVP award. His 11.1 fWAR is the best single-season performance by any Red Sox hitter who isn’t named Ted Williams. Yaz fueled the Red Sox in that “Impossible Dream” season that ended with a trip to the World Series and breathed life back into baseball in Boston.
Yaz responded to MLB lowering the mound with consecutive 40-homer seasons. By that point, he was already in his 30s and never reached 30 home runs in a season again.
Even as his power faded, Yaz continued to provide a steady presence in the Red Sox lineup for another decade until he wrapped up his remarkable career.