I was so blessed as a young Boston Red Sox fan to watch three incredible players roam the grassy outfield of Fenway Park. Jim Rice, Fred Lynn, and Dwight Evans were generational talents and consistently in the same lineup from about 1975 to 1980. In those years, Fred Lynn was a perennial All-Star and thrilled fans with his glove and his bat. Hall of Famer Jim Rice was one of the most feared hitters in all of baseball for over a decade and took over the exalted reins of Left Field from the likes of Yaz and Ted Williams. Dwight Evans was a Gold Glove phenom in the toughest part of Fenway Park – Right Field. Lynn left Boston in 1981, Rice remained with the Sox his entire career, and Evans left Boston in 1990 to play out his career in Baltimore. Many Boston Red Sox fans stated out loud to friends, family members, Yankee fans, anyone who would listen – there will never be another dream outfield in Boston like Rice, Lynn, and Evans.
Similarly, I have been blessed as an adult Boston Red Sox fan to watch three incredible players roam the grassy outfield of Fenway Park. Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley, Jr., and Andrew Benintendi are all incredibly talented as well and were consistently in the same lineup from late 2016, early 2017 to 2019. During this stretch of time, Mookie Betts established himself as one of the best overall baseball talents in the game with his electric bat and stunning athleticism in Fenway’s Right Field. Jackie Bradley, Jr was worth the price of admission just to watch him play Centerfield, with highlight reel catches and laser sharp throws from anywhere in the park to nab potential baserunners. Andrew Benintendi came into the league like a runaway freight train and his bat and glove thrilled Red Sox fans, diving and leaping and snagging baseball all over Left Field. Betts left Boston in 2020, Benintendi was traded in February 2021, and now Jackie Bradley, Jr has left, having recently signed with the Milwaukee Brewers here in March 2021. Another dream outfield gone in Boston.
The outfield of Lynn, Rice, and Evans did make it to the 1975 World Series before losing to the Cincinnati Reds. Fred Lynn won the AL MVP in 1975. We won’t mention what happened in 1978, but needless to say, they were close to going to another World Series but fell short by a Dent. Jim Rice won the AL MVP in 1978. Dwight Evans won the Gold Glove in 1978 (and would win 7 more in his career). In the years this trio played together, The Boston Red Sox averaged about 91 wins a season.
The outfield of Betts, Bradley Jr., and Benintendi did make it to the 2018 World Series and won the World Series trophy, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers. Mookie Betts won the AL MVP in 2018. Jackie Bradley, Jr won the Gold Glove in 2018 and was the ALCS MVP. Andrew Benintendi made one of the most improbable catches against the Houston Astros in the playoffs to secure a Red Sox win and ticket to the 2018 World Series. In the years, this trio played together, The Boston Red Sox averaged about 94 wins per season.
I can’t honestly state which outfield trio was “better”. The Lynn, Rice, Evans outfield thrilled the 1970s generation of Red Sox fans. The Betts, Bradley Jr., and Benintendi outfield thrilled the 2010s generation of Red Sox Fans. From a stats perspective, the Lynn, Rice, Evans trio is far superior in terms of All-Star appearances, MVPs, Gold Gloves, and career hitting statistics. But, some might argue that the Betts, Bradley Jr. and Benintendi outfield was part of a historic 108 win season and their incredible offensive and defensive contributions helped produce a World Series victory. Jim Rice is in the Cooperstown Baseball Hall of Fame, class of 2009. Fred Lynn, in my opinion, should be in the Hall of Fame. Dwight Evans is widely regarded as the best defensive Right Fielder to ever play for the Boston Red Sox. Mookie Betts is one of the top 5 baseball players playing today. Jackie Bradley, Jr. is the best defensive player at any position I have ever seen, apart from Ozzie Smith. Andrew Benintendi is an incredible athlete and was a top offensive and defensive performer for the Red Sox. To say one group is better than another is just not possible for me, because each group meant so much to me as a Red Sox fan.
Lynn, Rice, and Evans have long since retired. And Betts, Bradley Jr., and Benintendi are now all out of Boston via trades and free agency. I myself, as a 49 year Boston Red Sox fan, can look back and reflect glowingly on having two dream outfields in my lifetime. And remain hopeful that I will live long enough to perhaps witness another dream outfield in the coming years.
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