Over the past 135 years or so, the Boston Red Sox have been one of the game’s most storied franchises, including being the best team of the early 1900s, and the Curse of the Bambino.
Over the Red Sox’s history, many legends have stepped on and played in Fenway Park, and there have been spectacular players at every position.
I am going to take you through the best players at their respective positions.
Pitching: The Dream Redsox Rotation Honorable Mention: Tim Wakefield is not a dominant pitcher by any means, but he truly embodies a Red Sox player, and his ERA is a respectable 4.32 to go along with 185 career wins. Also, he was important in the 2 Sox' WS runs.
Pitching: The Dream Redsox Rotation
Honorable Mention: Tim Wakefield is not a dominant pitcher by any means, but he truly embodies a Red Sox player, and his ERA is a respectable 4.32 to go along with 185 career wins. Also, he was important in the 2 Sox' WS runs.
Closer: Who pitches one dominant inning the best?
Jonathan Papelbon, far-and-away.
Dick Radatz could have made it competitive, but he did not have a long enough career to be considered.
Throughout most of the early to mid-1900s, there was not much need for closers, because pitchers would consistently pitch complete games. But as arm fatigue and health factors were inspected by team doctors, bullpen pitchers became more important.
Jonathan Papelbon has become the best closer in Red Sox history. In his rookie of the year winning first season, Paps saved 35 games while posting an amazing ERA of 0.92. Over the course of his career, he has 127 saves, with an ERA of just 1.88. Also, he led the Red Sox's bullpen in 2007 when they won a world championship.
The most amazing thing is that Papelbon has only been in the league for four years, meaning that he will likely continue to improve and build upon his already great numbers.
Catcher: Fisk or Tek?
This was the hardest position to choose, because both Jason Varitek and Carlton Fisk were imperative to the team. Also, both players are so, so effective, but in very different areas of the game.
Each catcher was/is an overall great player, but excel differently.
Varitek is invaluable behind the plate, and has caught four no-hitters in his time with the Red Sox. He puts up decent offensive numbers, with a career batting average of .262 along with 171 homers.
Carlton Fisk had similar average numbers, as he batted .269. There was great disparity between their home run numbers, as Fisk launched 376. Carlton was a better offensive player than Tek, and has won more awards, including rookie of the year and a gold glove, but the all-time catcher is Varitek, because of what he brings to the pitching staff.
When Fisk was catching, he’d go out and talk to the pitcher, who spoke the same language as him. Varitek needs to go out and talk to a guy like Josh Beckett, who wants to dominate the world, one day, and then the next, talk to Daisuke Matsuzaka, who barely speaks any English.
Also, Fisk put up 376 long balls over a 22-year career, while Varitek has only played for 12 seasons. Granted, Tek will probably not even hit 300 home runs, but I definitely expect him to break the 225 barrier.
Another reason I chose Tek over Fisk was because of the fact that Tek did something Fisk didn’t, win a World Series.
Two, in fact.
Fisk certainly had his fair share of big hits, his most memorable being in 1975, when he pushed his game winning home run fair, but he never, not once, was able to win a WS.
Third Base: Who plays the hot corner?
Wade Boggs was a pretty easy choice here.
Over the course of his career, he won 8 Silver Slugger awards, a Rookie of the Year Award, hit 118 home runs and posted a batting average of .328.
Boggs was not only a great hitter in terms of average, but he also was able to make contact, as he never struck out more than 70 times in a season.
I would loved to have put Mike Lowell here, as his 2007 season was one of the best by a Sox third baseman, but the fact is that Wade Boggs won slugger award after slugger award, and Lowell didn’t have nearly as much offensive consistency as Boggs.
Lowell was a better defender, but Wade greatly improved over the course of his career.
Short Stop: The Man Who Dominates the Infield
This positional battle was between Nomar Garciaparra and Joe Cronin, with Julio Lugo getting some thought (for those who didn’t realize, Julio was a joke), but Nomar wins out pretty easily. Garciaparra has more home runs than Cronin did (228-170) and a better career batting average (.313-.301).
Garciaparra has compiled a rookie of the year award and a comeback player of the year award so far in his career, and while he still plays in the league, a more awards are not likely. Still, he is the greatest Sox shortstop to ever play his position, because he hit for average and power, one season hitting 35 home runs while posting a batting average of .323.
He, too, was hard to strike out, and had a couple 20 steal seasons.
Second Base: Consistency is a must
Dustin Pedroia could hold this position in the future, but for now, Bobby Doerr is the sure fire pick.
Doerr was in the running for eight consecutive MVP awards while compiling a career home run total of 223. His career batting average was not too impressive, but still solid, as it stands at .288. He is a MLB Hall of Famer.
I really think that Pedroia can challenge Bobby for this position, but Pedroia is still young in his career, so has not had the opportunity to put up the same numbers. Pedroia has won an MVP award and a Rookie of the Year, the latter is one Doerr never won. In 10 years, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Pedroia as the Red Sox's all-time second baseman, based on what he’s done so far in his career.
First Base: Overlooked by many in terms of defensive value
Many would choose Mo Vaughn here. I would like to go with Kevin Youkilis.
Youkilis has not played in the league nearly as long as Vaughn did, but still, I think he has done more for the Sox than Mo.
Yes, Vaugn could come in and hit 40 home runs, but he struck out over 150 times a couple times in his career, and his batting average sat at a lowly. 259.
Youk has hit 75 homers over 3 1/2 full seasons, and is a far better defensive first baseman than Mo Vaughn. Youk’s average is .293, and has helped win two World Series for the Sox.
Jimmie Foxx could have won out here with 534 home runs, but he did not play long enough in a Red Sox uniform to be considered a Red Sox great.
Outfield: The top five
I was going to select players by their outfield position, but I just couldn’t because so many left fielders would be overshadowed by the great Ted Williams. Thus, I decided to choose the best five outfielders in Sox history.
- Ted Williams: Is there really any debate here? Possibly the best hitter to every play baseball, He won 2 MVP awards out of the 18 full seasons he played. Also, he was the last player to have a full season of .400 batting average, as he hit .407 in 1953. His career batting average was .344, and he hit 521 home runs. Most sluggers strike out a lot, right? Not Ted. He never struck out more than 65 times in a season. Williams could have played more, and maybe even reached 600 home runs, but he served time in the Army during World War II, so four years of his career were lost.
- Carl Yastrzemski: He had the best season of any Red Sox player ever in 1967, when he hit 44 homers, 121 RBI and posted a .326 batting average. He earned a triple crown that year, as well as oan MVP award. His career batting average was a respectable .285, but he hit 452 home runs and carried the 1967, “Impossible Dream Team” Boston Red Sox.
- Tris Speaker: While he played most of his career in Cleveland, he accomplished most of what he was remembered for in Boston, a career best .386 batting average. He wasn’t much of a power hitter, but he hit 117 over the course of his career. Speaker was one of the best player in the history of the league at preventing a strike out, as he only shiffed 220 times out of almost 10,100 at bats.
- Jim Rice: who put up a .298 batting average and 382 home runs. He won an MVP award, but his lack of longevity really hurt him, as he only played 15 seasons in the majors, of which four he performed at a fairly low level. However, Rice is in the baseball Hall of Fame, which is a major accomplishment
- Dwight Evans: His career batting average was .272, but he won 2 silver slugger awards over the course of his career along with 8 Gold Gloves. He also hit 385 home runs. He was a great fielding outfielder, as he posted a career fielding percentage of .987.
- Honorable mention: Reggie Smith: .287 batting average, 314 home runs, and a gold glove award. Reggie never hit less than .300 in a full season with the Red Sox.
David Ortiz, by far. No other DH has done as much as Ortiz has. David has the most home runs of any Sox player in a single season with 54.
Here are some guys who I would love to see make this list one day:
- Dustin Pedroia: I already mentioned Pedroia.
- Jacoby Ellsbury: He has speed and a knack for hitting and could be a great center fielder.
- Jon Lester: Has thrown a no-hitter once, and came close to a perfect game recently.
- Clay Buchholz: Perhaps the most coveted Red Sox young gun, he too has thrown a no-hitter.
- Josh Beckett: If healthy, he puts up dominant numbers as he did in 2007. If he can remain with Boston and play at a high level long enough, he could certainly take a guy like Mel Parnell’s place.
There you have it, the all-time Red Sox team.
Wouldn’t you just love to face them?
Stats from Baseball-Reference.com