Rating the Greatest Baseball Players of All Time

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Friday, April 01, 2005
 
Number 159: Ken Boyer

Boyer signed with St. Louis in 1949, but didn't make it to the big leagues (through the Cardinals' huge farm system) until 1955, at age 24. He was installed as the regular third baseman that season, and hit .264 with 18 HR and 62 RBI. The Cards, a juggernaut in the 1940s, had receded in the NL although they still had Stan Musial. Musial was declining with age, and the rest of the team was not compensating. Boyer had a strong season in 1956, with a .306 average, 26 HR and 98 RBI. In 1957 he was assigned to play CF, an odd choice coming from the lack of an alternative and the emergence of a good player, Eddie Kasko, from the minors. The next year Boyer was back at 3B, and Kasko was a bench player, then traded.

After a slumping year, Boyer hit over .300 again back at 3B, and continued to hit well and wow with his defense. He hit 28 HR in 1959, 32 in 1960, then 24 for four seasons in a row. He won five Gold Gloves for his fielding, then led the NL in RBI in 1964. The Cardinals won the pennant, and the World Series, and Boyer won the MVP. He wasn't the best player in the league, but this was one of those "career achievement" awards like the Oscars give out sometimes. Boyer hit 2 HR in the Series, but then slid to .260 with 13 HR in 1965 and was traded to the Mets. From there he went to the White Sox and Dodgers, playing out the string. Boyer had decent speed, and was a good hitter with a career 116 OPS+, but his value lay largely in his terrific glove. His career was not long, at 15 seasons, but it was impressive.

Boyer earned 150.24 ratings points.

Boyer's stats: .287 average, 282 HR, 1141 RBI, 2143 hits.