Boston Red Sox: 10 greatest hitters in franchise history

Boston Red Sox David Ortiz (R) is congratulated his solo homer by teammate Manny Ramirez in the top of the first innings against Japan's Hanshin Tigers in an exhibition game in the Tokyo Dome on March 22, 2008.The Boston Red Sox managed a narrow 6-5 victory against Tigers in an exhibition game here, days ahead of the official season opening games against the Oakland Athletics. AFP PHOTO / KAZUHIRO NOGI (Photo credit should read KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP via Getty Images)
Boston Red Sox David Ortiz (R) is congratulated his solo homer by teammate Manny Ramirez in the top of the first innings against Japan's Hanshin Tigers in an exhibition game in the Tokyo Dome on March 22, 2008.The Boston Red Sox managed a narrow 6-5 victory against Tigers in an exhibition game here, days ahead of the official season opening games against the Oakland Athletics. AFP PHOTO / KAZUHIRO NOGI (Photo credit should read KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP via Getty Images) /
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NEW YORK CITY – 1911: A group of all stars pose togethter in New York City in New York City for a photograph in 1911 at the Polo Grounds Back row, left to right, are Bobby Wallace, Home Run Baker, Joe Wood, Walter Johnson, Hal Chase, Clyde Milan, and Eddie Collins. Seated are Germany Schaeffer, Tris Speaker,Sam Crawford, Ty Cobb, and Paddy Livingston (Photo Reproduction by Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images)
NEW YORK CITY – 1911: A group of all stars pose togethter in New York City in New York City for a photograph in 1911 at the Polo Grounds Back row, left to right, are Bobby Wallace, Home Run Baker, Joe Wood, Walter Johnson, Hal Chase, Clyde Milan, and Eddie Collins. Seated are Germany Schaeffer, Tris Speaker,Sam Crawford, Ty Cobb, and Paddy Livingston (Photo Reproduction by Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images) /

Red Sox outfielder Tris Speaker

Tris Speaker‘s production at the plate is harder to quantify in comparison to modern hitters due to the dead-ball era that he played in. Baseball was a different game in the early 1900s, one that relied heavily on speed and strategy over power. Speaker was undoubtedly one of the greatest hitters of that generation.

During his nine seasons in Boston, Speaker only tallied 39 home runs, fewer than many hitters on this list have produced in a single season. The low total is a product of the era he played in. Speaker led the league with 10 home runs in 1912 when he captured the AL MVP award.

He wasn’t bashing many homers but Speaker was an extra-base hitting machine. He led the league in doubles twice and routinely cracked double-digits in triples, including a career-high 22. Speaker had a .500 slugging percentage for his career, topping that figure four times with the Red Sox, which was no easy task without the benefit of high home run totals.

Speaker was an excellent base runner, stealing 25+ bases in seven consecutive seasons with the Red Sox. Many of his base hits quickly turned into extra bases with a steal.

What stands out most about Speaker is his batting averages. He hit well over .300 in every full season he spent in Boston. His .337 average with the Red Sox ranks third in franchise history.

High batting averages were common in those days when hitters weren’t swinging for the fences and rarely struck out. Speaker’s 3.2 K% is the best in franchise history among hitters with 800+ games played. Pitchers weren’t striking out a batter per inning in those days though.

Speaker never won a batting title in Boston despite hitting over .320 in six consecutive seasons with a high of .383. He did lead the league in hits once. Speaker finally led the league in batting average in his first season after leaving Boston and remained an elite hitter for over a decade in Cleveland.