.383/.464/.567, 1.031 OPS, 675 PA, 222 H, 82 BB, 10 HR, 90 RBI, 53 2B, 52 SB, 75 XBH, 310 TOB, 188 OPS+, 35 outfield assists
Postseason: .300/.382/.467, 8 G, 30 AB, 9 H, 2 3B, 2 RBI
The defensive cog of one of the best outfields of all time and the offensive cog of the best Boston ballclub ever, Speaker’s MVP season coincided with the peak of the Red Sox and the opening of Fenway Park.
Speaker was Boston’s first offensive superstar – combining speed, plate discipline and power in a combination the franchise has not seen again. His 53 doubles set an AL record that stood until he broke it with 59 in 1923. His 52 steals were a record that stood until Tommy Harper swiped 53 in 1973, and he still holds three of the top five stolen base marks in Red Sox history. Not even Babe Ruth during his magical 1919 season could top Speaker’s 75 extra-base hits. That club record stood for nearly 20 years. Only five Boston players have reached base more than Speaker’s 310 times in 1912.
Defensively, Speaker played center field like no player before or since. He still holds – and probably forever will hold – the single-season record for outfield assists that he set in 1912, thanks to his unique style of play that featured an exceptionally shallow positioning and took advantage of his strong arm. Speaker frequently turned routine singles into groundouts and doubled players off second base on shallow line drives. A player like Speaker had never been seen in Boston before his breakout season of1912. And one hasn’t been seen since.
Key game: April 20. A long time coming after bad weather canceled two straight games and the sinking of the Titanic overshadowed the festivities, Fenway Park opens with a game against the New York Highlanders. Rallying from four down to send the game into extra innings, the Sox walk off with the 7-6 win on Speaker’s 11th-inning single, one of his three hits during the game.