I am a former sports editor and currently serve as a historian with the Society of American Baseball Research and manage a valet operation.
Who Are the Best Home Run Hitters in Boston Red Sox History?
As a charter member of the American League, the Boston Red Sox have seen stars of all types throughout their history. But considering four players have hit their 500th career home run while wearing a Red Sox uniform, it's no surprise the franchise has a rich history of sluggers. With 34 players who posted at least 100 homers with Boston, the Red Sox trail only the New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers for the most all-time.
This article will explore the best of those power hitters, from one of the earliest sluggers in baseball history to some of the top heavy hitters from recent eras. These rankings are not based upon opinions, and for a player to be considered, he must have hit at least 100 home runs during his time with the Red Sox. Players were then ranked by averaging their rank for both of these criterion:
- Total home runs with the Red Sox
- Plate appearances per home run with the Red Sox
Following the top five are the best of the rest, a handful of shorter lists of franchise leaders in more defined categories, and franchise home run records. Information from Stathead on Baseball Reference was used to compile statistics.
Note: Ranks in parenthesis in individual player capsules represent their ranking among players who hit at least 100 home runs with the Red Sox. ... Statistics are current through the end of the 2021 season.
5. Mo Vaughn
- Years Played: 1991–98
- Home Runs: 230 (7th)
- Plate Appearances/Home Run: 19.36 (7th)
- Single-Season High: 44 in 1996
Mo Vaughn had already established himself as a solid power threat, but during his MVP season of 1995, he firmly entrenched himself among baseball's best. He hit a then-career high 39 home runs to kick off a four-year streak of seasons with at least 35 longballs. His last season in Boston was in 1998, and he opened and closed it in a big way. Vaughn opened the year on a six-game hitting streak and launched a game-winning grand slam in the home opener at Fenway Park to finish wiping out what had been a 7–2 lead for the Seattle Mariners. Boston made the playoffs for the second time in Vaughn's career, but they were ousted by the Cleveland Indians, despite two homers from the big first baseman.
4. Jimmie Foxx
- Years Played: 1936–42
- Home Runs: 222 (9th)
- Plate Appearances/Home Run: 17.73 (3rd)
- Single-Season High: 50 in 1938
After becoming a superstar following 11 successful seasons with the Philadelphia Athletics, Jimmie Foxx joined the Red Sox and didn't miss a beat. Foxx was an All-Star in each of his six full seasons in Boston, and he hit 35 or more home runs in his first five years in Massachusetts. That included 50 during his MVP season in 1938, a mark that stood as the franchise's single-season record until 2006. On Sept. 24, 1940, Foxx became the second player in Major-League history to hit his 500th career home run, doing so in a game against the Athletics.
3. Manny Ramirez
- Years Played: 2001–08
- Home Runs: 274 (6th)
- Plate Appearances/Home Run: 17.09 (1st)
- Single-Season High: 45 in 2005
Manny Ramirez signed what was then the second-richest contract in Major-League history when he came to the Red Sox in 2001, and he did not disappoint. Ramirez was an All-Star in all eight of his seasons in Boston, won six Silver Sluggers and hit at least 40 homers three times (including an American League-leading 43 in 2004). Speaking of that season, Ramirez was instrumental in helping the Red Sox win their first championship since 1918 and picked up World Series MVP honors after leading Boston to sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals. On May 31, 2008, Ramirez became the third player to hit his 500th career home run while with the Red Sox.
2. Ted Williams
- Years Played: 1939–42, 1946–60
- Home Runs: 521 (1st)
- Plate Appearances/Home Run: 18.79 (4th)
- Single-Season High: 43 in 1949
While the statistic most synonymous with Ted Williams is his .406 batting average from 1941, he was no slouch when it came to power. Williams missed several seasons of his prime while serving as a fighter pilot in two wars, but that didn't stop him from putting up Hall of Fame numbers in a brilliant career spent entirely with Boston. Williams debuted in 1939 as a 20-year-old and pounded 31 home runs, and two years later, he led the league in homers for the first of four times. He was an All-Star in all but two seasons (his rookie year and 1952, when he played just six games because he was serving in the Korean War), and he won MVP honors in 1946 and '49. On June 17, 1960, Williams hit the 500th home run of his career, which spanned 19 seasons.
1. David Ortiz
- Years Played: 2004–16
- Home Runs: 483 (2nd)
- Plate Appearances/Home Run: 17.39 (2nd)
- Single-Season High: 54 in 2006
One of the most adored and loveable Red Sox of all-time is David Ortiz, who charmed Boston's fans for 14 years with prodigious power from a beautiful swing. Ortiz was an emerging star during six seasons with the Minnesota Twins but broke out when he came to Boston, hammering 30 or more home runs in his first five seasons—including a single-season franchise record 54 in 2006 (breaking a mark set in 1938). He finished inside the top five in MVP balloting in each of those seasons and played a big role in the Red Sox winning the 2004 World Series. His three home runs in that year's ALCS earned him series MVP honors, and some of those clutch home runs will be played in highlights for years to come. On Sept. 12, 2015, Ortiz hit two home runs against the Tampa Bay Rays to reach 500 for his career, and he hit 38 homers in his last year in 2016, which is considered among the best final seasons of all-time. He was named an All-Star for the 10th time that year.
The Best of the Rest
The following three players are home run hitters from Boston Red Sox history who just missed the top five.
- Years Played: 1974–89
- Home Runs: 382 (4th)
- Plate Appearances/Home Run: 23.71 (11th)
- Single-Season High: 46 in 1978
Jim Rice spent the entirety of his 16-year career with the Boston Red Sox, and he swatted at least 20 home runs in 11 of those seasons. Rice was the 1978 American League MVP and was named an All-Star eight times.
- Years Played: 1972–90
- Home Runs: 379 (5th)
- Plate Appearances/Home Run: 27.02 (17th)
- Single-Season High: 34 in 1987
Dwight Evans spent all but the final season of his 20-year career with the Red Sox, winding up as one of the top sluggers in team history. He led the American League with 22 home runs in the strike-shortened 1981 season and was a three-time All-Star.
- Years Played: 1964–70, '75
- Home Runs: 162 (15th)
- Plate Appearances/Home Run: 20.36 (8th)
- Single-Season High: 36 in 1970
Tony Conigliaro was on track to become one of the all-time greats before an injury derailed his career in 1967. In 1964, Conigliaro homered in his first at-bat as a 19-year-old, and led the AL in homers in 1965. He was struck in the face by a pitch in 1967, and while he had good seasons upon his return in 1969 and '70, he was never again the same player.
Boston Red Sox Home Run Records
Below are some of the franchise home run records for the Boston Red Sox.
Boston Red Sox Career Home Run Leaders
- 1. Ted Williams, 521
- 2. David Ortiz, 483
- 3. Carl Yastrzemski, 452
- 4. Jim Rice, 382
- 5. Dwight Evans, 379
Boston Red Sox Plate Appearance/Home Run Leaders (min. 100 HRs)
- Manny Ramirez, 17.09
- David Ortiz, 17.39
- Jimmie Foxx, 17.73
- Ted Williams, 18.79
- Tony Armas, 19.07
Boston Red Sox Single-Season Home Run Leaders
- 1. David Ortiz, 54 (2006)
- 2. Jimmie Foxx, 50 (1938)
- 3. Ortiz, 47 (2005)
- 4. Jim Rice, 46 (1978)
- 5. Manny Ramirez, 45 (2005)
Boston Red Sox Single-Game Home Run Leaders
- 25 players tied with 3 (Mookie Betts did it five times)
© 2021 Andrew Harner