Friday, November 4, 2016

All-Time One-Year Wonder Team: First Base

I'm going to do something a little different with the One-Year Wonder posts.  I have decided to go position-by-position and see if I can determine who the best player at each position would be who only spent one year with the Red Sox.  This requires a lot of time and research.  I am not naming every single player who spent just one season with the Red Sox at each position, but just the better-known players.  At the end of the post, I will pick the single best player for each position.


Larry McLean was a beast.  Playing at the turn of the 20th century, McLean was an imposing 6'5" and 225 lbs.  He made his Major League debut with the Boston American League team in 1901 and played in just nine games.  He was not quite ready for the Majors as he hit just .211 with only a double in 19 plate appearances.  McLean re-emerged in 1907 as a legitimate Major Leaguer, becoming a catcher for Cincinnati and was their starter for the next six years.  He could hit a little bit but as a Dead Ball Era player, did not hit for a ton of power.

ED MORGAN - 1934
He did not play for a real long time, his Major League career lasted just seven seasons, but Eddie Morgan made a big impact for the Cleveland Indians for a few years in the late 1920's/early 1930's.  He had an incredible season in 1930, hitting .349/.413/.601 with 26 home runs and 136 RBIs.  Half of his career home runs came in that one season.  Late in his career, he played for Boston for one season in 1934, but whatever magic he had a few years before was gone.  Morgan played in 138 games, but hit just .267/.367/.352 with three home runs and 79 RBIs for the Red Sox.  He was sold to the Cardinals after the season, but never made it back to the Majors.

A big-time slugger for the Philadelphia Phillies and Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1930's and 1940's, Camilli was a two-time All Star and the NL MVP in 1941 when he led the league in home runs (34) and RBIs (120).  Camilli hit 239 home runs in his career.  After a poor season in 1943, Camilli was sent to the minors.  Boston picked him up in mid-1945, a wartime year in order to add some pop to their lineup.  Unfortunately, it was obvious that Camilli was well-past his prime.  He hit just .212/.330/.288 with just two home runs.  He was released after the season and retired.

RAY BOONE - 1960
Ray Boone was the first of three generations of Boones to play in the Major Leagues, so far.  He was primarily known as a shortstop and third-baseman who was a two-time All Star with the Tigers.  He also spent several years with the Indians earlier in his career.  Boone led the league in RBIs (116) in 1955 while hitting 20 home runs at third base.  Boone bounced around quite a bit in his later years and was traded by the Braves to the Red Sox in 1960 for Ron Jackson.  Boone played in 34 games and hit .205/.300/.256 with one home run and 11 RBIs as a first-baseman.

Watson is one of three players to hit for the cycle in both leagues, and was the first to do so.  He was a star for the Houston Astros for several years and was named an All Star twice.  For his career, Watson hit .295/.364/.447 with 184 home runs.  At the age of 33 in 1979, Watson was traded to the Red Sox for two guys named Pete Ladd and Bobby Sprowl.  Watson played in 84 games with the Red Sox and was very impressive, hitting .337/.401/.548 with 13 home runs and 53 RBIs, solidifying the first base position for Boston.  He also played a little DH for Boston.  He hit for the cycle for the Red Sox.  He defected to the Yankees after the season.

One of the big stars for the Montreal Expos in the 1970's, Parrish came in third in Rookie of the Year voting in 1975 and was an All Star in 1979 after hitting 30 home runs.  He finished fourth in the NL MVP race that season.  He was an All Star with the Rangers as well in 1987 after hitting 32 home runs with 100 RBIs.  Parrish closed out his career with 52 games for the Red Sox after being released by the Rangers in July.  Parrish was decent, hitting .259/.298/.424 with seven home runs and 26 RBIs.  He retired after the season.

Esasky had been a decent hitter for the Reds for a few seasons.  He was traded to the Red Sox along with Rob Murphy for Todd Benzinger and Jeff Sellers for the 1989 season and found that his right-handed swing was tailor-made for Fenway Park.  He exploded for 30 home runs and 108 RBIs, both career highs by far.  He hit .277/.355/.500 and also contributed a career high in doubles with 26.  He parlayed these numbers into a free agent contract with the Braves after the season, but vertigo prematurely ended his career.

Brogna was a first-round draft pick of the Tigers in 1988 who was traded to the Mets in a challenge trade for 1989 first-round draft pick Alan Zinter.  The Mets won.  Brogna hit 22 home runs in 1995 for the Mets.  After a down season in 1996, he was traded to the Phillies and had three straight seasons of 20 home runs and more than 80 RBIs.  Brogna suffered from Spondylitis, an arthritic spinal condition, which led to another down season in 2000.  The Red Sox picked him up off of waivers in August and he played in 43 games, hitting just one home run and batting .196.  That home run was a grand slam though.  After the season, he signed with the Braves where he finished his career.

Clark was another former All Star that spent just one season with the Red Sox.  He had been a big star with the Tigers, one of their few good players during his time there, and hit 30 home runs in three consecutive seasons.  Despite being the club's only All Star in 2001, Clark was inexplicably placed on waivers after the season.  Boston jumped on him with the idea that he would take advantage of Fenway Park.  It did not work out.  Clark may have been too involved in the Players' Association impending strike, and his numbers suffered.  He had his worst season to that point, hitting just .207/.265/.291 with just three home runs and 29 RBIs.  He rebounded over the next few seasons wiht the Yankees and Diamondbacks.

He spent just a short amount of time with the Red Sox, but Doug Mientkiewicz will be remembered as the player who made the final putout of the 2004 World Series that finally broke Boston's 86-year drought.  Mientkiewicz had been a big part of some good Twins teams in the early 2000's and was traded to Boston as part of a big four-team deal that also involved Nomar Garciaparra heading to the Cubs and Orlando Cabrera coming to Boston.  Mientkiewicz played in 49 games and hit just .215 with one home run and 10 RBIs.  His defense was the primary reason for acquiring him and he did his part.  After the season he was traded to the Mets for a prospect and bounced around for a few seasons afterward.

Olerud had been a great hitter in the early 1990's with the Blue Jays and won a batting title in 1993.  Despite this, he was only an All Star twice, in 1993 with the Blue Jays and in 2001 with the Mariners.  Olerud was better known as a very good defensive first-baseman with an uncanny ability to get on base, and was well-known for wearing a batting helmet while in the field to protect his head.  He won three Gold Gloves and had a lifetime OBP of .398.  Olerud spent his final season of his career with the Red Sox in 2005.  Olerud had a good final season hitting .289/.344/.451 with seven home runs and 37 RBIs.  He retired after the season.

J.T. SNOW - 2006
A gifted defensive first-baseman, Snow won six Gold Gloves with the Angels and Giants.  He was a pretty decent hitter as well and hit more than 20 home runs three times and drove in 100 RBIs twice.  Despite that, Snow was never an All Star.  Boston brought him on in 2006 to serve as a backup in case Kevin Youkilis struggled with the transition from third to first.  Snow was coming off of a rough season and struggled even more hitting .205/.340/.205 and driving in just four runs in 38 games, mostly as a late-inning defensive replacement.

Casey had been a three-time All Star with the Reds and had a lifetime slash line of .302/.367/.447.  At one point, he had some big power having three seasons of more than 20 home runs.  The Reds were not going anywhere in the mid 2000's and Casey was shipped to the Pirates.  He then played with the Tigers before signing with Boston as first base depth in 2008.  Casey only played in 69 games and did not hit any home runs, but he did hit for a high average.  Casey hit .322/.381/.392 with 14 doubles in his final Major League season.

It is difficult to imagine now, but Kotchman was once so highly-regarded he was traded for Mark Teixeira.  He was the 13th overall pick in the 2001 draft and looked like he was on his way to becoming a good player with the Angels when he was traded to the Braves in the aforementioned deal.  Kotchman was having a decent season in 2009 when the Braves and Red Sox swapped first-basemen, the Braves getting Adam LaRoche in return.  Kotchman played in 39 games for the Red Sox and hit .218/.284/.287 with one home run and seven RBIs.  After the season, he was shipped to the Mariners for Bill Hall.  Kotchman played for four teams over the next four seasons.

In 2012 the Red Sox started the season with All Star Adrian Gonzalez at first base.  But after a disastrous season, Boston traded Gonzalez, as well as fellow high-priced players Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford to the Dodgers, mostly for salary relief and some prospects.  James Loney was the only Major Leaguer they received.  Loney had been a decent player for the Dodgers, but never really lived up to expectations.  That did not change in his brief stint with the Red Sox as he hit just .230/.264/.310 with two home runs and eight RBIs.  After the season he joined Tampa Bay as a free agent and did have some success.

It is very hard to beat a 30 home run season.  Esasky was a decent enough hitter and once hit 22 home runs for the Reds, but he exploded for 30 home runs and 108 RBIs as a right-handed pull hitter in Fenway Park.  Bob Watson had a better slash line, but Esasky's power and the fact that he played the full season for the Red Sox won out.

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