Back in February, the Red Sox official website opened up fan voting for an "All-Fenway" team to celebrate the park's 100 years. The first wave of voting was for lefty and righty starting pitchers, and nine of each handedness were put up to vote. While you can still vote for those pitchers (cough, Lefty Grove and Pedro Martinez), voting for first baseand catcher are now open as well.
Like we did with pitchers, let's take a look at the candidates and their qualifications so we can sort this whole thing out. Given the unreliable defensive data of the past, we'll be looking at hitting primarily. Though, with the best at each of these positions over the last 100 years, defense is somewhat secondary anyway given the bats involved.
Rick Ferrell was very solid while with Boston, but wasn't here very long. Carlton Fisk has the second-longest tenure of the group, and was easily the most productive hitter during his time here -- even more impressive given how long he was in town.
Jason Varitek is the only real contender to Fisk's crown, but he's brought down by the fact he played with Boston from his slow start to his diminished finish, and not just his best years. Fisk finished up the start to a Hall of Fame career by heading to the White Sox for another 13 years (109 OPS+). Okay, so "contender" might have been a strong word, given Fisk is one of the best catcher's ever, whereas Varitek is "just" one of Boston's best.
This is an easy choice if you base your decision on who The Best catcher in Red Sox history was, and not just the best catcher of your own era. Varitek is easily the #2 here, and there's no shame in being lined up right after a Hall of Fame backstop.
|First Base||Years Played||PA||OPS+|
|Bill Buckner||1984-1987, 1990||2224||94|
|George Scott||1966-1971, 77-79||4740||103|
Making this table, it hit me that the Red Sox have not been especially blessed at first base over the years. (Since we aren't counting part-time first basemen, like Yaz, Jim Rice, etc., anyway.) Jimmie Foxx was (obviously) amazing -- and was even better while with the Philadelphia Athletics (an 11-year line of .339/.440/.640 with a 179 OPS+) -- but he also happened a long time before most, if not all of us, were around. It's been somewhat quiet since then, except for the occasional noise at first.
Mo Vaughn was great when he was with the Red Sox, taking home an MVP in 1995 and earning himself a lucrative deal with the Angels once he hit free agency. (although Albert Belle would like a word on that subject). Kevin Youkilis is arguably the second-best first baseman the organization has had over the long-term, but he's also spent time at third base, too. He's kind of a wild card here, in that regard.
Maybe it's hard to appreciate Foxx (or maybe even Fisk) the way we all should since we didn't see him, but if it were possible to get these guys together for a game when they were in their respective peaks, you could do a whole lot worse than these two Hall of Famers. Foxx is pretty much Albert Pujols for hipsters, and Fisk caught games in four different decades.