Red Sox History: The unsung hero from every pennant-winning team
1946: 1B Rudy York
Unlike many players on this list, Rudy York was an established player before the 1946 pennant-winning season. From 1937-1945, York averaged 27 home runs and 104 RBIs a season, helping the Tigers win the 1945 World Series in the process. Seeking to provide some lineup protection for legend Ted Williams, the Red Sox traded for York prior to the 1946 campaign.
The move paid immediate dividends. York’s power production may have slipped, as his 17 home runs were the lowest total since, but his 119 RBI ranked fourth in the majors while his total bases and on-base percentage ranked tenth. Future Hall of Famers Bobby Doerr and Williams may have garnered most of the attention, but it was York who came up with the clutch hit time and time again.
York’s great hitting only continued into the World Series. His go-ahead, 10th inning home run in Game One gave the Red Sox an early series lead, while his three-run home run led the Red Sox to a 4-0 victory in Game Three.
In all, the Red Sox slugger totaled four extra-base hits and posted a 1.086 OPS in the series and would have been a legend in Boston if the Red Sox had pulled out a win in Game 7.
York would end up playing just a year and a half in Boston and would be out of baseball by 1948. The abrupt end to his career, however, doesn’t diminish his accomplishments in 1946, as his contributions made all the difference in that pennant-winning season.