The Five Most Underappreciated Red Sox Players of the Past 30 Years

Sean Delorge@@sdelorgeCorrespondent IIIApril 24, 2013

The Five Most Underappreciated Red Sox Players of the Past 30 Years

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    The Boston Red Sox have been blessed with star power in the last 30 years.

    From Roger Clemens to Manny Ramirez and everywhere in between, there have always been elite players that donned the Red Sox uniform.

    Boston went to the World Series three times and won twice in the past three decades, led by their stars. However, in those seasons and others, there were integral players who were underappreciated.

    Here are five underappreciated players from the past 30 years for the Red Sox.

Gabe Kapler

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    Though he was known as a utility player in his time with Boston, Gabe Kapler stepped up in 2004 when Trot Nixon was hurt.

    In 2004, Kapler played all three outfield positions, but was primarily the right fielder.

    In addition to playing exceptional defense, Kapler hit .272 in 2004 en route to Boston winning its first World Series title in 86 years.

Bill Buckner

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    Bill Buckner will always be remembered for his critical error in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, but aside from that historic mistake, he was a good player in Boston.

    Ironically, Buckner was a really good defensive player, which makes his untimely error harder to comprehend.

    Buckner spent parts of five seasons with Boston where he hit .279. He wasn’t your typical power-hitting first baseman, but he was an above-average hitter.

Derek Lowe

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    Derek Lowe will always be the answer to a trivia question. In Lowe's last season with the Red Sox he was the series-clinching winning pitcher in every postseason series during Boston's 2004 World Series run.

    However, Lowe was still overshadowed by Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling and Keith Foulke that season.

    Lowe was a versatile pitcher; recording 85 saves, 70 wins and a 3.72 ERA in eight years with the Red Sox.

    Lowe’s best season was in 2002 when he went 21-8 with a 2.58 ERA en route to a third-place finish in the AL Cy Young Award voting.

John Valentin

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    Before Nomar Garciaparra erupted on the scene, John Valentin was an excellent shortstop for the Red Sox.

    Valentin spent 10 seasons with the Red Sox and hit .281 with a .361 OBP.

    The shortstop-turned-third baseman’s best season came in 1995 when he hit .298 with a .399 OBP, 27 home runs, 102 RBI and 20 stolen bases.

    Overshadowed by Mo Vaughn, Valentin still managed to finish ninth in the AL MVP voting in 1995, the year before Nomar made his debut.

Hideki Okajima

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    Jonathan Papelbon gets the credit for being the best reliever on the 2007 Boston team, but Hideki Okajima was nearly as valuable as the closer.

    Okajima came in as a rookie and immediately became one of manager Terry Francona’s favorite weapons out of the bullpen.

    The lefty from Japan used deception and a nasty arsenal to go 12-4 with a 2.72 ERA in his first three seasons with the Red Sox.