Red Sox's Top 5 2Bs: Browne's take

April 6th, 2020

No one loves a good debate quite like baseball fans, and with that in mind, we asked each of our beat reporters to rank the top five players by position in the history of their franchise, based on their career while playing for that club. These rankings are for fun and debate purposes only … if you don't agree with the order, participate in the Twitter poll to vote for your favorite at this position.

Here is Ian Browne's ranking of the top 5 second basemen in Red Sox history. Next week: Third basemen.

Red Sox All-Time Around the Horn Team: C | 1B

1) , 2006-present
Key fact: Only player to win MVP Award, Rookie of Year Award, World Series title and Gold Glove Award within first two MLB seasons

The fact that Pedroia has barely been able to play since 2017 due to a problematic left knee shouldn't obscure the fact that he's one of the best all-around players in Red Sox history. Choosing him for this honor, however, was a close call over late Hall of Famer Bobby Doerr. Here is an idea of how close it was. Pedroia has a bWAR of 51.6, ranking him eighth among active players. Doerr's was 51.1. However, the deciding factor is that Pedroia has been a superior defensive player.

Pedroia was a key cog on two World Series championship teams (2007, '13) and won a third in '18 serving as a mentor and unofficial assistant coach. His nickname the "Laser Show" is by no accident: Pedroia was the master of the line drive. In his American League MVP Award-winning season of '08, Pedroia roped 54 doubles to go with 118 runs, 213 hits, 17 homers, 83 RBIs and 20 stolen bases. His line that year was a sturdy .326/.376/.493, a campaign in which he won the first of his four Gold Gloves Awards. If Pedroia never plays again -- a distinct possibility -- he will finish with a line of .299/.365/.439.

While the numbers and the trophies speak volumes about Pedroia's accomplishments, his intangibles are also off the charts. His ability to motivate teammates is considered a big plus. Pedroia is also one of the most instinctive players in Red Sox history, something that manifested itself often when he was on the bases or in the field.

"There's nobody like him," said Terry Francona, who managed Pedroia from 2006-11. "I can't imagine there will ever be. I probably expected too much out of him because of how he played the game. He was so special."

2) , 1937-51
Key fact: Hit .409 in the 1946 World Series -- the only one he ever played in

Doerr's brilliance on the field was matched only by his unflappable grace off it. Teaming with Ted Williams, Johnny Pesky and Dom DiMaggio on some memorable Red Sox teams in the 1940s, Doerr was considered the leader of those teams. In fact, it was Williams who once dubbed Doerr "the silent captain." He led with such great example that words weren't needed.

The right-handed hitter made plenty of noise with his bat, slashing .288/.362/.461 with 223 homers and 1,247 RBIs in 1,865 career games -- all of them for the Red Sox. Doerr was also known for his rock-solid defense at second base. He led AL second basemen in fielding percentage six times and in double plays five times. Doerr once held the AL record for most consecutive chances at second base without an error (414). In 1969 and again in '82, Red Sox fans voted him the team's all-time best second baseman.

Doerr played in more games at the position (1,852) than any other player in Red Sox history, and he ranks first all-time in Red Sox history for homers by a second baseman. The avid fisherman from Oregon died in 2017 at the age of 99.

"Bobby was a legend, a Hall of Famer I have long looked up to throughout my career," Pedroia said. "His character both on and off the field will continue to inspire players throughout the league for generations to come."

3) Billy Goodman, 1947-57
Key fact: Led the Majors with a .354 batting average in 1950

The left-handed hitter was ahead of his time in the super-utility role -- a position that is commonplace in this era. Goodman started at seven positions for the Red Sox -- everywhere but catcher and center field. He earns the nod at second base because his 556 starts there represent his most at any position in his time with the Red Sox.

Overshadowed by "The Teammates" profiled in David Halberstam's epic book (Williams, Doerr, Pesky and DiMaggio), Goodman played for some top-contending Red Sox teams from 1948-50. In those three seasons, all of which the Red Sox finished between one and four games back for the AL pennant, Goodman was a force at the plate, hitting .320 with an .808 OPS.

When Doerr retired after the 1951 season, Goodman settled in primarily at second base for the next five seasons, compiling a .302 average. Goodman was one of many lefties who thrived at Fenway, hitting .330 there for his career. His weakness as a hitter came via a lack of power. But that was something teams could live without getting from infielders during his era.

4) , 1987-92
Key fact: Despite getting just 338 at-bats in the 1988 season, Reed finished third in the AL Rookie of the Year Award voting

When the Red Sox were slumping at the All-Star break in 1988, one of the first moves new interim manager Joe Morgan made was to install Reed -- a homegrown product -- as his starting shortstop. From there, Morgan's Magic took off, making way for one of the most memorable Fenway summers ever. In June '89, when Marty Barrett was injured, Reed moved to second base and stayed there for the rest of his career.

The right-handed pull hitter turned Fenway Park into his personal doubles heaven, topping 40 in three straight seasons (1989-91). In fact, he led the AL with 45 in Boston's division-winning season of '90. A prototypical No. 2 hitter in those days, Reed with over 10 sacrifice bunts in a season five times with Boston. Reed was also a steady performer in the field and really took to second base after the position switch.

5) Mike Andrews, 1966-70
Part of the 1970 trade with the White Sox that landed Hall of Famer Luis Aparicio in Boston

As a rookie in 1967, Andrews was an important contributor to one of the most impactful Red Sox teams of all time, the Impossible Dream squad that got to the World Series and lost to the Cardinals in seven games. Andrews had a strong showing in that Fall Classic with four hits in 13 at-bats.

In the coming years, Andrews developed some pop -- which wasn't common for second basemen in his era. He ripped 15 homers to go with a career-high OPS of .844 in 1969. A year later, Andrews was a workhorse, taking 681 plate appearances and smacking a career-high 17 homers.

Though Andrews wound up finishing his career with the White Sox and Athletics, he came home to Boston for good after that and was the chairman of the cancer-fighting Jimmy Fund for over 25 years. Thanks in large part to Andrews, the Red Sox have been able to maintain a strong relationship with the Jimmy Fund, which started when Ted Williams was playing.

Honorable mentions
Marty Barrett was a rock at second base for the Sox in the mid 1980s and was the MVP of the '86 ALCS, hitting .367. He was even better in the World Series against the Mets, hitting .433 with a 1.014 OPS. … Jerry Remy brought speed to a Boston team that didn't have much in the late '70s and spent the final seven seasons of his career playing for his hometown team. He was also the master of the drag bunt. … Pete Runnels hit .320 over 732 games for Boston from '58-62, but his playing time was almost equally split between second and first.