Saturday, March 10, 2007

100 Greatest Red Sox >> #39 Frank Malzone

Frank Malzone, 3B, #11 (1955-1965)

1359 G, 1454 H, 131 HR, 716 RBI, .276 AVG, .317 OBP, .403 SLG

Frank Malzone served in the army in 1952 and 1953 so he broke into the big leagues a little bit late. After his time in the service he spent a few years in the minor leagues and didn’t get a fulltime job in the majors until 1957 when he was already 27 years old. His late start didn’t stop him from making an immediate impact in baseball by having his best season in his rookie year. In ’57 he hit .292 and established a career high with 103 RBI while coming in 2nd in the Rookie of the Year voting, 7th in the MVP voting, won his first of 3 consecutive Gold Gloves, and made his first of six All-Star teams. That year he also became the first major league player to lead the league at his position in putouts, assists, games played, double plays, and fielding percentage in the same year. He also led the league with 25 errors, but a player that has the range to get to a lot of balls is going to misplay a few of them.

For the next 7 years Malzone consistently produced for the Sox. His stellar defense remained an asset throughout his career although his range did decrease a little with age. His offense alone wouldn’t have been enough to make him a star, but he was no slouch with the bat either. He was never one for plate discipline as his career high .333 OBP shows, but only twice did he strike out more than 50 times in a year and he topped a .280 AVG five times. He hit 13-21 HR every year and topped 70 RBI 7 times. He was a very dependable guy to have in the line up every day.

Malzone left the team via free agency after the 1965 season after 11 years in the majors, all with Boston. He spent 1 year with the Angels hitting .206 in 82 games, mostly as a defensive replacement. He retired after the ’66 season at the age of 36.

His Red Sox career was good enough to place him 9th all-time on the team’s hit list and 10th all time for games played. He also ranks at least 17th on the club’s all-time list for doubles, homers, runs, and RBI. His career totals are a far cry from Cooperstown, even with his defensive prowess, but he was inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 1995. He still lives just outside of Boston and is still employed by the Red Sox as an advisor at the age of 77.

Player bio by Brian Martin

1 comment:

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