1975: Denny Doyle
The 1975 Red Sox offense was a machine. Led by superstar rookies Fred Lynn and Jim Rice, they led the AL in both average (.275) and runs (796). If the lineup had one weakness, however, it was at second base. Doug Griffin began the year at the keystone position, but his anemic offensive performance (.550 OPS) opened the door for Denny Doyle.
There was not much fanfare when Doyle was acquired from the Angels in April of that year. After all, he was just a career .245 hitter and had hit only ten home runs in his first five seasons in the big leagues. His first two months with the Red Sox were more of the same, as he was hitting just .159 through July 1.
That’s when Doyle took off, batting an incredible .338 for the rest of the season, including a 22-game hit streak. His value to the team was undeniable: The Red Sox went 55-29 when Doyle started and just 40-36 when he didn’t.
Unfortunately, Doyle’s postseason performance is most remembered for his baserunning gaffe in Game 6. With the score tied at 6 in the bottom of the ninth, Doyle stood on third base with only one out. Fred Lynn lifted a short fly ball into left field, seemingly too shallow to score Doyle. Doyle, confusing third base coach Don Zimmer’s “No, no, no!” with “Go, go, go!”, tried to score anyway and was thrown out easily to kill the Red Sox rally.
Doyle, however, is far from the reason the Red Sox lost the series. For one, the Red Sox would go on to win Game 6 on Carlton Fisk’s walk-off home run. And while the series featured many stars, including 5 Hall of Famers and Pete Rose, Doyle was the only one to collect a hit each game. From the moment Doyle arrived in Boston, he was a hitting machine and deserves better than being remembered for one mistake on the bases.