With 382 career starts for the Red Sox, Tim Wakefield now needs just one more to pass Roger Clemens for the most in club history. And the knuckleballer is just five wins from matching Clemens' Fenway Park record of 95.
Clemens, long the team leader in so many pitching categories, has slowly – and surprisingly – been encroached upon by his former teammate.
If he plays one more season -- which seems likely at this point -- Wakefield will pass Clemens in innings pitched, becoming the club's new all-time leader in that category, as well. As it stands, Wakefield needs just 100 more innings to match Clemens.
Throughout his 15 seasons with the Red Sox, Wakefield has certainly established himself as an innings eater, pitching at least 200 innings in five seasons and 195 in another.
And Wakefield is just the second pitcher in Red Sox history to record at least 1800 career strikeouts.
Cy Young never reached 1700 strike outs in his legendary career with the Sox, nor did Pedro Martinez, Luis Tiant, or Smokey Joe Wood. In fact, the only other Sox pitcher to reach the milestone was Clemens, who fanned 2590 batters while with the Sox. It appears that Clemens' mark will be safe for years to come.
However, over the past couple of seasons, Wakefield has passed Clemens in a few areas he'd rather not have. It's part of the mixed bag that you get with Tim Wakefield. You take the bad with the good.
For instance, by rather wide margins, Wakefield is the club's all-time leader in a variety of less than desirable categories: 148 losses; 2571 hits allowed; 351 home runs allowed; 998 walks; and 1287 earned runs.
Much of that is the by-product of his longevity; if you stick around long enough the numbers pile up – for better and for worse. The reality is, Wakefield's place in the team's record book is more a testament to endurance than to greatness.
But attaining double-digit wins in 11 different seasons is quite an accomplishment, and Wakefield should be praised and congratulated for all he's done for the Red Sox through the years.
Incredibly, what was once deemed unimaginable now seems probable; having totaled 174 career victories with the Red Sox, Wakefield has a reasonable shot of surpassing Young and Clemens, who are tied with 192 wins apiece. He'll have to pitch at least another season to do so, but for a knuckleballer it's clearly doable.
As one of only three AL pitchers with 10 wins, Wakefield is having a career year and could well reach 20 wins before the season is over.
Just imagine the interest, the press, and the fanfare should Wakefield surpass Clemens and Young next season. The organization would just love and celebrate it.
We may hold our collective breath whenever he starts, or when one of his knucklers flutters away from the catcher and toward the backstop. But we should appreciate what's left of Wakefield's rollercoaster-like ride with the Sox. Soon to be 43, and on a revolving, year-to-year contract, this won't go on much longer.
Enjoy it for what it's worth. Statistically speaking, we're watching one of the Red Sox all-time greats. And there's no doubt that we're also watching one of the finest, most gracious men to have ever worn the Red Sox uniform.
You won't find an athlete who does more for his community, or who gets more praise from his teammates, than Tim Wakefield. Red Sox Nation should give him thanks for all he's done, both on and off the field.
And when he passes Clemens during his next start this week, he should be rightfully congratulated for such an impressive accomplishment.
Copyright © 2009 Sean M. Kennedy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without the author’s consent.
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