Note: This is part of a series for Baseball Digest in which I pick each MLB team’s best player/coach at every position. Visit SoapBoxSportsByte for excerpts of the Red Sox piece before its launch next week.


Wade Boggs rode out of New York on a pinstriped horse, providing what might be the lasting snapshot of both the Yankees dynasty and his own career.

Before his legacy was temporarily tarnished by a Hall-of-Fame bribery scandal, he went on from the Bronx to finish his career with the pre-exorcism Devil Rays. As a result, interviewers introduce him as “former Yankee, Wade Boggs.”

If Boggs had had his (alleged) way, he would have been inducted as Cooperstown’s lone Devil Ray. But saying Boggs is a Yankee at heart is like remembering Sean Conney as Indiana Jones’ father and not James Bond.

For a certain generation, Boggs’ Yankeedom seems obvious. For anyone that resembles a baseball buff, it’s revisionist history.

People forget about the real, decidedly Bostonian Wade Boggs. He contributed some memorable seasons for the two latter teams, but his tenures in New York and St. Petersburg could not shine the proverbial shoes of his Boston career.

After becoming a free agent following a career-worst 1992 season (.259 AVG, a Shea Hillenbrand-esque 1.9 WAR), Boggs signed with the Yankees when they offered—surprise!—a year more than the competing Dodgers.

Never with the Devil Rays or the Yankees would Boggs post a five-win season, a figure he had bested in eight of his ten years manning the hot corner at Fenway.

Say what you want about his affinity for boiled chicken and his propensity towards superstition—Wade Boggs was one of the league’s best hitters for an entire decade.

From his first full season in 1983 to 1991, his penultimate season with the Red Sox, he posted just one year with a WAR under 6.5. In that 3.5-win 1990 season, Boggs still hit .302 and was still among the top ten third basemen in the game.

Third base is a power-heavy position, one where 20 homers and 90 RBIs are much more common than lofty batting averages and on-base percentages. To that effect, Boggs’ impact was a bit of a conundrum. The edict called for him to hit like Ron Santo, but he was doing a better Rod Carew impression than Rod Carew.

Over his entire Red Sox career (save for that final 1992 season and the aforementioned 1990 campaign), Boggs never hit lower than .325. In fact, he only hit lower than .330 once and lower than .350 three times. He posted OBP’s over .400 in every one of those season sand was over .440 on five separate occasions.

Boggs was one of the few hitters of the last 20 years who was feared despite a general lack of power. He only topped 10 home runs once with the Sox, in an ’87 campaign in which Boggs put up an outlandish 24 HRs and a .363/.461/.588. 

Nevertheless, he was a terror on opposing pitchers due to his ability to grind out at-bats and find his way on base. His 7.6 K percentage was the lowest among 80’s third basemen and sixth behind all contemporary major leaguers—behind Tony Gwynn, Don Mattingly, Ozzie Smith, Johnny Ray and Pete Rose. His .428 period-specific OBP was second only to Frank Thomas and blew all other third basemen away by more than 40 points.

Of the top seven “third basemen” in Red Sox history, Boggs and Larry Gardner are the only ones who spent the majority of their career playing exclusively third base. Boggs left Boston with a 75.0 WAR. When Larry Gardner moved onto Philadelphia in 1918, he left a 32.6 WAR in his wake.

As they say so eloquently, ‘nuff said. 


Jesse Golomb researches and writes for He is also the creator and writer of SoapBoxSportsByte, a blog that incorporates statistical analysis as well as fan perspective into daily pieces on the MLB, NFL and NBA. He can be followed on Twitter @SoapBxSprtsByte or contacted by email at

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