On Friday night, J.D. Martinez singled through the hole between short and third to drive in two runs. In doing so, J.D. Martinez surpassed the 100 RBI mark on the season. With a month and a half still to play, J.D. Martinez already has 37 home runs and 104 runs batted in on the season. In surpassing both the 30 home run plateau and 100 RBI mark in his first season as a Red Sox, Martinez has accomplished what only nine before him had ever done.
Jimmie Foxx was already the most powerful right-handed bat the baseball world had ever seen by the time he arrived in Boston. Foxx had led the league in home runs in three of his final four seasons in Philadelphia. Sold by the Athletics to the Red Sox during the Great Depression, Foxx was one of several stars brought in my new club owner Tom Yawkey.
1936 was Foxx’ first season in Boston and he clubbed 41 home runs and drove in 143 runners. This was the first time somebody eclipsed 30/100 in his first season with the team. Foxx would accomplish the feat during each of his first five seasons with Boston, averaging 40 home runs and 134 RBI during that stretch. Foxx also won the MVP Award in 1938.
Williams was a 20-year-old rookie when he joined the Red Sox in 1939 and reached the marks. Told in spring, ”Wait until you see this guy Jimmie Foxx hit,” Williams famously replied “Wait until Foxx sees me hit”. Williams became the first rookie in franchise history to surpass 30 home runs and 100 runs batted in. He hit 31 home runs that year and drove in a league best 145 runners. Williams also hit 44 doubles and 11 triples in that rookie season.
Dropo was the third Red Sox to accomplish those numbers in his first season with the team, and second rookie. Dropo wasn’t supposed to be a star, he was already 27 years old when the Sox called him up early in 1950. The 27-year-old rookie went on to hit 34 home runs, drive in a league best 144 runs and lead the league with 326 total bases. Dropo easily won Rookie of the Year and made his one and only All-Star Game.
After a bad season in 1951, Dropo bounced back to hit 29 home runs in 1952. However, after that season he never again reached 20 homers. He spent the second half of his career as a part-time player.
Dr. Strangeglove, as he was called, had a big bat and no glove. Another nickname of his was “stonefingers”. His porous defense didn’t help his career, as he played only parts of 10 seasons. Stuart could hit though. He came to the Red Sox in 1963, having made an All-Star Game in Pittsburgh in 1961 after batting .301 with 35 home runs and 117 runs batted in.
In his first season in Boston, Stuart crushed 42 home runs and drove in 118 runs, which led the American League. The 42 home runs were the most hit by any Red Sox player since Ted Williams hit 43 in 1949. Stuart hit 33 home runs and drove in 114 runs the next year before being shipped out of Boston after just two seasons.
In 1983, Tony Armas became the first Red Sox since Dick Stuart two decades prior to accomplish a 30/100 season in his first year with the team. Armas didn’t actually play well, but still managed to hit 36 home runs and drive in 107 runs. He batted just .218 and posted a .707 OPS despite all the home runs.
Armas was much better in year two for the Sox, batting .268, which was higher than his on-base percentage was the year before. Armas also led the league in home runs and runs batted in with 43 and 123.
Just five years after Armas achieved these marks, Nick Esasky did in his lone season with the team. The Red Sox acquired Nick Esasky along with left-handed pitcher Rob Murphy from the Reds in December of 1988. In 1989, Esasky hit 30 home runs and drove in 108 runs for the Red Sox. The Red Sox let Esasky walk in the offseason, leaving him with one (very good) season in a Red Sox uniform. Esasky barely played again, suffering from severe vertigo after signing with the Atlanta Braves.
The Red Sox acquired Carl Everett from the Houston Astros for Adam Everett and Greg Miller. Adam Everett was an all glove shortstop and Greg Miller never made the Majors. Meanwhile, Carl Everett beasted in Boston during the 2000 season. He made the all-star team, batted .300 and hit 34 home runs with 108 RBI. He also got a 10 game suspension that year for head butting an umpire and said dinosaurs weren’t real, but his play in 2000 was no joke.
When the Red Sox signed Manny Ramirez, he was handed largest contract in baseball history at the time. He didn’t disappoint either. That first season with the Sox, Manny blasted 41 home runs and drove in 125 runs. Nomar missed most of the season with a wrist injury and Carl Everett slumped badly from the previous season though. Without the lineup protection, Manny’s numbers fell as the year wore on, batting .258 from May 27th on after batting .400 to that point. His first season was still impressive nonetheless.
Manny would make eight All-Star Games, have four top six MVP finishes, win a batting title and a home run crown while in Boston. He also added World Series MVP to his résumé in 2004. In his first six seasons with the club, Manny averaged 39 home runs and 119 RBI per season while posting a .316/.416/.610/1.026 line.
After being released by the Twins in the offseason despite hitting 20 home runs the previous season, the Red Sox signed David Ortiz for just 1.25 million. It then took Grady Little forever to realize Ortiz was a lot better than Jeremy Giambi. Once finally given a spot in the lineup, David Ortiz raked. From July 1st on, David Ortiz hit 27 home runs and posted a 1.022 OPS. Ortiz homered twice in back-to-back games at Yankee Stadium on July 4th and 5th, games the Red Sox won 10-3 and 10-2.
Everyone knows what happened from there. Ortiz is arguably the most clutch player to ever put on a baseball uniform and arguably the greatest designated hitter. The city of Boston will be descending down upon the small town of Cooperstown, New York in a few years.
These are the names Martinez has joined with his first season performance in Boston. With over 40 games left in the season, Martinez is leading the league with 37 home runs and 104 RBI while batting .332/.400/.666/1.066 as of this writing. He has a legitimate shot at the triple crown.
There are a few guys who came very close to achieving a 30/100 season their first year in Boston. Others accomplished the feat in their first full season in Boston, but had spent a partial season with the team prior.
Vern Stephens hit 29 home runs and drove in 137 runs in 1948, his first year with the Red Sox. He then hit 39 and 30 home runs the next two seasons while leading the league in RBI both years.
Ken “Hawk” Harrelson was acquired in late 1967 to replace the injured Tony Conigliaro. His 80 at-bats that year preclude him from this list. However, 1968 was his only full season with the Red Sox. The year he hit 35 home runs while driving in a league best 109 runs.
Don Baylor was part of the Red Sox team that went to the World Series in 1986. He hit 31 home runs that year but fell six RBI shy of the 100 mark.
Nomar Garciaparra was a September call-up in 1996. In his rookie season of 1997, he fell two RBI shy of becoming the first Red Sox rookie since Walt Dropo in 1950 to hit 30 home runs and drive in 100 runs.
Jason Bay falls in the same boat as Hawk Harrelson. Bay was acquired at the trade deadline in 2008 and posted an .897 OPS over the season’s final two months. 2009 was his only full season with the team, and he hit 36 home runs and drove in 119 runs.
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