Last Updated on June 13, 2023 by Matt Musico
Some legendary hitters have been a member of the Red Sox. After the franchise’s single-season home run record was set in 1938, it took until 2006 to be surpassed. Get all the juicy details below by seeing who is among the Red Sox single season home run leaders. And after you do, see how this list compares to the all-time leaders for the Boston Red Sox.
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Red Sox Single Season Home Run Leaders: Top 5
David Ortiz: 54 Home Runs in 2006
For nearly 70 years, Jimmie Foxx was the only Red Sox hitter to reach the 50-homer plateau. His reign finally ended in 2006 thanks to David Ortiz. Big Papi had already etched his place in Boston’s history books by being a clutch postseason performer and one of the main contributors to ending the Curse of the Bambino in 2004. It seemed like anything after that epic season could be viewed as gravy by the Fenway Faithful. Ortiz, a first-ballot Hall of Famer, gave the fans in Beantown a heavy, heavy pour of that gravy for the remainder of his career.
The 2006 season was Papi’s third consecutive year with at least 40 homers, and it was the last time he surpassed that particular benchmark. Papi actually hit 32 of his 54 home runs away from Fenway Park. He also kicked things up a notch over the final three months. After slugging 23 homers through the end of June, he hit 24 between July and August before he put on the finishing touches with another seven in September.
It’s like he could smell the franchise record and the single-season HR record for designated hitters.
What I love the most here is that while the homer numbers varied in different situations, his slugging percentage was elite in just about every instance. Whether he faced a righty or a lefty and whether he was at Fenway or on the road, his slugging percentage was above .600. The same could be said if you looked at his first- and second-half performances. On a monthly basis, the only time Ortiz didn’t slug at least .600 was in May (.469) and June (.564).
Jimmie Foxx: 50 Home Runs in 1938
Jimmie Foxx led the league in home runs four times throughout his career. And until Ortiz broke his record in 2006, he held two separate single-season franchise home run records, one of which is still among the most home runs in a season in MLB history. Interestingly enough, the 50 home runs he hit in 1938 for the Boston Red Sox didn’t lead the league. That honor went to Hank Greenberg, who slugged 58 on his way to setting the Detroit Tigers’ single-season record.
Foxx got the last laugh, though. He didn’t win the single-season home run crown, but he did lead the league in RBI (175), batting average (.349), on-base percentage (.462), slugging percentage (.704), OPS (1.166), and total bases (398) on his way to winning MVP honors.
While he nearly had an identical slash line in the first half (.347/.461/.705) as he did in the second half (.347/.461/.701), the right-handed slugger loved playing at Fenway. In 334 plate appearances, he hit .405/.512/.887 with 34 home runs and 104 RBI. That’s a terrific season on its own, but it was just half a season for Foxx. What a stud.
David Ortiz: 47 Home Runs in 2005
Although Ortiz would surpass this number the following season to become Boston’s single-season home run king, the 148 RBI he collected ended up being his most in one year. The 5.3 fWAR was also tied for his second-highest single-season mark.
Papi found an extra gear following the All-Star break in this particular campaign. He slugged 21 dingers through 381 plate appearances prior to the midsummer classic and followed that up with 26 in 332 trips to the plate after it. Between April and July, he didn’t finish a month with more than seven homers. He produced 11 home runs and 30 RBI in both August and September, though.
Jim Rice: 46 Home Runs in 1978
We talked about Jim Rice‘s power peak between 1977-79 since he’s also on Boston’s all-time home run list. The 1978 campaign was his MVP performance, as he led the league in both homers and RBI (139), along with triples (15), hits (213), slugging percentage (.600), OPS (.970), and total bases (406). While it was his only MVP victory, it was one of six times he finished in the top five of voting.
Similar to Foxx (but not quite because that man was a video game before video games were around), Rice enjoyed hitting at Fenway Park. He posted a 1.105 OPS with 28 home runs in Boston, compared to a .837 OPS and 18 dingers as a visiting player. His best month was a 13-homer barrage in May, but he slugged 22 over the season’s final two months (12 in August, 10 in September).
Manny Ramirez: 45 Home Runs in 2005
It just wouldn’t have been right if Manny Ramirez wasn’t in the top five of either Boston Red Sox home run leaderboard, right? Thankfully, he’s here for now. He spent seven and a half seasons in Boston and never finished a year with fewer than 20 home runs — yes, he even reached that number in a half-season before getting traded in 2008.
And, if we look at his first six years in Boston, he hit more than 30 home runs and 100 RBI each time, including three different campaigns of 40-plus dingers. The 45 he hit in 2005 tied his single-season career-best mark, which he also accomplished in 1998 with Cleveland. He posted a monthly OPS greater than 1.000 in each of the final four months of the 2005 season, and Ramirez saved his best homer output for last, hitting 12 dingers in September.
Red Sox Single Season Home Run Leaders: The Rest
Here’s what the rest of Boston’s top-25 most powerful seasons in franchise history looks like:
- Carl Yastrzemski, 1967: 44 home runs
- Mo Vaughn, 1996: 44
- Ted Williams, 1949: 43
- J.D. Martinez, 2018: 43
- Manny Ramirez, 2004: 43
- Tony Armas, 1984: 43
- Dick Stuart, 1963: 42
- Jimmie Foxx, 1936: 41
- Manny Ramirez, 2001: 41
- David Ortiz, 2004: 41
- Rico Petrocelli, 1969: 40
- Carl Yastrzemski, 1969 and 1970: 40
- Mo Vaughn, 1998: 40
- Fred Lynn, 1979: 39
- Vern Stephens, 1949: 39
- Jim Rice, 1977, 1979, and 1983: 39
- Mo Vaughn, 1995: 39
Check out the rest of the Red Sox single-season home run leaderboard at FanGraphs.
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