After 14 seasons, 1,434 games and more than 6,000 trips to the plate, Nomar Garciaparra called it a career on Wednesday. The longtime infielder is likely to be remembered as one of the more-beloved players in Red Sox history, fitting for a man who appeared in five All-Star Games and earned a pair of batting titles in his eight-plus years in Boston. But Nomar was much more than that. He was an all-time great in many ways.
During Garciaparra’s first eight seasons with the Red Sox, his .323 batting average was the best in the majors among shortstops and his 173 HR and 669 RBI during that span trailed only Alex Rodriguez among those who took the field between second and third base.
FAR BETTER THAN AVERAGE
Highest Career OPS+ By Player, Primary Position: Shortstop
Minimum 3,000 PA, MLB History (According to Baseball-Reference.com)
It’s also worth noting that only three players with at least 1,500 plate appearances in a Red Sox uniform can claim a better batting average with the BoSox than Nomar’s .332: Ted Williams, Wade Boggs and Tris Speaker. (In case you were wondering, those three players also have something else in common: they all have a plaque in Cooperstown).
When Garciaparra won his second batting crown in 2000, his .372 average wasn’t only the best in the AL that year, it was the third-best by a shortstop since 1900 and the best mark by a righty since the end of World War II (and still is).
It’s fitting that Garciaparra retired as with the Red Sox, because he was never the same player in another uniform. After being dealt by Boston in the middle of the 2004 season, injuries derailed Garciaparra’s final years, limiting him to 468 games and a .288 batting average over his last five-plus MLB seasons. But Garciaparra seems to want to be remembered for his years in Boston, saying on Wednesday that he’s always felt at home in Beantown. Baseball fans would be smart to oblige.