Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell started the 2006 season on fire and seemed to hit a double in nearly every other at bat. Though he cooled in the season's second half and is now hitting just .286 (after being over .300 for much of the season), Lowell has 17 homers, 69 RBI, and 42 doubles.
Early on, Lowell set a pace that made him seem destined for at least 50 doubles this season, something that has only been accomplished six times, by five different players, in club history.
Incredibly, the Red Sox record for doubles in a single season is also the Major League record. Red Sox outfielder Earl Webb hit an astounding 67 two-baggers in 1931.
The gap between Sox players who've hit 40 doubles in a season and those who've hit at least 50 is canyon-like.
A Red Sox player has hit 40 doubles in a season 11 times, and players have hit between 41 and 47 doubles in a season on 31 occasions. The list includes Hall of Famers like like Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, Tris Speaker, and Wade Boggs, as well fan favorites like Johnny Pesky, Fred Lynn, Nomar Garciaparra, and David Ortiz.
But there are some modern Sox players on that list that might surprise some: John Valentin hit 47 doubles in 1997, Bill Buckner hit 46 in 1985, Bill Mueller hit 45 in 2003, and Jody Reed hit 45 in 1990.
Some players made the achievement a habit. Wade Boggs leads the list, notching at least 40 doubles an amazing 8 times. Nomar Garciaparra did it 4 times. Williams, Yastrzemski, and Valentin each hit the mark 3 times. And Tris Speaker, Joe Cronin, Eddie Bressoud, Fred Lynn, Jody Reed, and David Ortiz all hit at least 40 doubles twice.
But the list of players who've hit a whopping 50 doubles or more is quite short and reads like a who's who list of Sox greats:
Earl Webb - 67 (1931) (MLB Record)
Nomar Garciaparra - 56 (2002)
Tris Speaker - 53 (1912)
Nomar Garciaparra - 51 (2000)
Wade Boggs - 51 (1989)
Joe Cronin - 51 (1938)
Should Lowell accomplish the seemingly impossible, and hit eight more doubles in the next 18 games, he would join this illustrious group. Though that seems unlikely, he has a good shot at hitting 45 -- a number that has been reached by a Sox player only 17 times in the club's 106-year history.
That, in itself, would be quite an impressive achievement.
Copyright © 2006 Sean M. Kennedy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without the author's consent.