When the greatest outfields of all-time are mentioned, the Red Sox pasture of the mid to late 1970s should be one of the first mentioned. Manning left field was the newly inducted Jim Rice. In center field they had the fine Fred Lynn but in right field was probably the best all-round player of the trio: Dwight Evans. Dwight won Gold Glove Awards, Silver Sluggers awards and was an on-base machine – three times posting an on-base average over .400. Hall of Fame teammate Jim Rice never once came close to a .400 on-base percentage in his career.
A fifth round selection in 1969, Dewey got his first taste at Fenway in 1972. The Red Sox had a fine outfield of Yaz, Reggie Smith and Tommy Harper with future star Ben Oglivie waiting his turn as well. Evans saw plenty action in 1973 but split time with Oglivie and Rick Miller. Handed the regular starting gig in right field in 1974, Dwight led AL East right fielders in batting average that year.
At the age of 23 in 1975, Evans was joined in the outfield with young studs Fred Lynn and Jim Rice and the BoSox, led by their amazing young trio, went to the World Series. Dewey hit .292 with five RBI in the Fall Classic but the Sox fell to the Reds in one of the greatest World Series ever played. He won his first Gold Glove in 1976 while also leading AL right fielders in doubles.
In the midst of a breakout 1977 season, Dwight was limited to just 73 games due to injury, but he swatted 14 long balls in his truncated campaign. Keeping his new power stroke, Dewey socked 24 homers in 1978 making his first All-Star appearance and winning the second of his eight career Gold Gloves. He socked 21 homers in 1979 and led AL right fielders with 37 doubles in 1980.
His greatest season was cut short by the Player’s Strike in 1981 but Dewey was brilliant in the short season. He tied with Bobby Grich for the AL lead in homeruns while leading the league in walks and total bases. Evans honed his eye to perfection, drawing 85 walks which boosted his on-base percentage to the lofty .400 regions (he finished with a .415 on-base %). The Red Sox right fielder finished fourth in RBI and second in runs scored. He finished third in MVP voting.
Not missing a beat in 1982, Dewey led the AL with a .402 on-base percentage while leading all Major League right fielders in runs scored, walks and base hits. He led AL right fielders with a .292 batting average and a .534 slugging average. He missed some action in 1983 with an injury but still managed to belt 22 long balls and win another Gold Glove Award, using his amazing throwing arm – perhaps the best of his time – to keep runners honest.
An uncommon leadoff man, Evans could sock long drives but wasn’t a threat to swipe a base like prototypical leadoff men such as Rickey Henderson and Brett Butler. Although Dewey wasn’t gazelle like in the speed department, he was Eddie Yost like in the vision department. In ’84, Dwight led the AL in runs scored and on-base plus slugging. The big leadoff man walked 96 times, belted 32 homers and drove home 104 runs. Showing off his eye in ’85, Dwight led the junior circuit in walks with 114, enabling him to score 110 runs.
Although Evans went to the World Series in 1975 as a youngster, it took his BoSox until 1986 to make the Playoffs again. A valuable ingredient to the Sox success – perhaps the most valuable – Dwight drove in 97 runs on the year and swatted a homerun in the ALCS. In the World Series, Evans and his Red Sox chums took on the New York Substance Abusers (I mean, the Mets) in another classic Fall Classic with Dewey doing his part with nine RBI and a pair of homers, but the BoSox lost again.
Evans began to rotate between right field and first base in 1987 but despite the positional carousel he rode throughout the season, he still managed to lead the league in walks – posting an amazing .417 on-base percentage in the process. 1987 was arguably Dwight’s finest year, showing off an amazing offensive line of 34 HR/123 RBI/.305 BA/.569 SA.
Still productive in ’88, Evans brought home a few MVP votes while hitting .293 with 111 RBI as Boston’s elder statesman. He had another 100 RBI season in him in 1989. He began to fall off in 1990 when he was relegated to DH duty and he played one final year in Baltimore, hitting .270 for the Orioles.
G 2,606/R 1,470/H 2,446/2B 483/3B 73/HR 385/RBI 1,384/BB 1,391/SO 1,697/SB 78/BA .272/SA .470