Red Sox outfielder Carl Yastrzemski – No. 61
Carl Yastrzemski spent his entire 23-year career with the Red Sox. He had the unenviable task of filling the shoes of the greatest hitter in franchise history but Yaz didn’t take long to build his own legacy in Boston.
The 18-time All-Star won three batting titles and seven Gold Gloves. Yastrzemski hit .285/.379/.462 for his career. His uncanny longevity with the same organization helped him reach the top in many categories in franchise history, including games played, plate appearances, runs scored and RBI. His 452 home runs are the third-most by a Red Sox player and 39th in MLB history.
Yaz earned an MVP award in 1967 when he captured the Triple Crown by hitting .326 with 44 home runs and 121 RBI. It would be 45 years before anyone else repeated the rare Triple Crown accomplishment (Miguel Cabrera – 2012).
His career year led the Red Sox to the World Series where they fell to the St. Louis Cardinals in an epic seven-game battle. Yaz hit .400 with three homers in that series. While Boston ultimately fell short of ending their championship drought, that Impossible Dream season breathed baseball life back into the city of Boston.
His run production might not jump off the page outside of a peak where he hit 40+ homers and drove in 100+ RBI three times in a four year span. What’s impressive about Yaz’s career is that much of it came during an era dominated by pitching. He won a batting title while leading the league in walks and on-base percentage during the infamous Year of the Pitcher in 1968.
Yastrzemski emerged during a period when the Red Sox were an afterthought in Boston. He became a beloved icon and helped save baseball in this city. He might not crack the top half of ESPN’s list but he’s near the top in the hearts of many Red Sox fans.