Top 50 Sox Seasons #26: Manny Ramirez, 2002

[We’ve decided to break this down into individual files, but I’ve also kept the running list of the Top 50 Red Sox seasons available here for quick reference].

.349/.450/.647, 1.097 OPS, 518 PA, 152 H, 73 BB, 33 HR, 107 RBI, 64 XBH, 184 OPS+
All-Star starter, Silver Slugger, MVP – 9

Although Ramirez’s counting statistics in 2002 finished in the bottom half of the Top 10 or out of it altogether, consider this: He managed them in just 120 games played, the result of a broken finger suffered May 11 that likely cost him another 40 home run season.

As it was, only a monster season by old teammate Jim Thome kept him from sweeping the Triple Crown of rate statistics, as well as OPS and OPS+ (which remains the best in a season by any Red Sox hitter since a fellow named Yaz in 1967). At the time of his injury, Ramirez was hitting .372/.497/.673. He slumped upon his return, hitting just .267 in 43 games – perhaps distracted by the loss during a rehab assignment in Pawtucket of a $15,000 diamond earring. His final 44 games, however, were insane – a .414/.495/.790 line, with 15 home runs and hits in 39 of his 43 starts – and included a team-record-tying 10-game RBI streak from Sept. 14-24.

Key game: Sept. 7.  In a game featuring both aspects of Manny Ramirez’s unique relationship with the Red Sox and their fans, Ramirez turns and walks out of the batter’s box after a third-inning groundout to the pitcher, angering teammates, fans and pundits alike. Then, in the seventh, Ramirez hits the tiebreaking homer in a 6-3 Red Sox win over the Devil Rays.

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