Top 50 Sox Seasons #31: Carlton Fisk, 1972

.293/.370/.538, .908 OPS, 514 PA, 134 H, 52 BB, 22 HR, 61 RBI, 9 3B, 59 XBH, 162 OPS+
Rookie of the Year, All-Star, Gold Glove, MVP – 4

In modern baseball, only one catcher had put up a better season than Fisk did in his rookie season of 1972 – and that was his National League counterpart the same year, fellow 24-year-old Johnny Bench, whose 166 OPS+ held the modern record (with Fisk running second) until Mike Piazza broke it three consecutive years beginning in 1995.

Fisk unanimously won the Rookie of the Year award for this, still the best season ever by an American League catcher, ranked by OPS+. No Sox catcher ever had hit even 15 home runs in a season until 1972, when Fisk hit 22. Fisk remains one of just two Sox catchers to have hit more than 20 homers (Jason Varitek the other). His nine triples is the modern Red Sox catching record (Lou Criger hit 10 in 1903).

Although Fisk would top most of his 1972 numbers in 1977, that was thanks to an overall increase in offense leaguewide. Fisk put up his 1972 numbers in an atmosphere in which the average OPS was .649 (versus .735 in 1977).

Key game: July 12. Pudge breaks a 1-1 tie against Jim Lonborg and the Brewers by leading off the seventh with a home run over the Monster, then provides insurance by banging a double off it with the bases loaded to score Rico Petrocelli and Rick Miller in a 3-1 win.

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