25 Greatest Players in Boston Red Sox History

Chuck Platt@chuck_plattCorrespondent IIOctober 18, 2011

25 Greatest Players in Boston Red Sox History

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    Considering the state of the current Boston Red Sox, reflecting on the team's history sounds like an intriguing proposition.

    Who are the 25 greatest players in Red Sox history?

    This is not a list of the 25 greatest players that happened to, at some point in their career, wear a Red Sox uniform. Rather, this list reviews the 25 players who made the greatest contributions as a Red Sox player over the franchise's 108-year history.

    So here's my take on the 25 greatest Red Sox of all time.

    Whether you agree or disagree, leave your opinions please!

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25. Rico Petrocelli (1963, 1965-1976)

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    Club Ranks: 8th in games (1,553), 9th in RBI (773), 10th in BB (661), 9th in PA (6,170), 10th in HR (210).

    A Red Sox lifer and two-time All-Star, Rico Petrocelli played shortstop and later third for Boston. His career encompassed both the Impossible Dream in ’67 as well the ’75 World Series team.  

    A sterling defender with a knack for the long ball, Petrocelli finished seventh in AL MVP voting in 1969.

24. Jonathan Papelbon (2005-Present)

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    Club Ranks: 1st in saves (219), 3rd in games (396).

    Figuring out where Jonathan Papelbon falls was an interesting task. 

    How does a prototypical modern closer stack up to, say, older hurlers who regularly threw 250 innings a year and were expected to toss complete games?

    He's working his way up the list of Red Sox greats, however, as he continues to consistently perform in a role of importance. A four-time All-Star and a World Series champion.

23. Mo Vaughn (1991-1998)

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    Club Ranks: 5th in OPS (.936), 6th in SLG (.542), 7th in HR (230).

    A native New Englander, Mo Vaughn can get a bum rap because he was mentioned in the Mitchell Report. These allegations cite his PED use toward the injury-plagued end of his career with the Angels and Mets—not his power-hitting prime with the Red Sox.

    Vaughn's a three-time All-Star and a three-time finisher in the AL MVP Top 10, winning the award in 1995.

22. Tim Wakefield (1995-Present)

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    Club Ranks: 1st in starts (430), 1st in IP (3006.0), 2nd in SO (2,046), 2nd in games (590), 2nd in wins (186).

    Tim Wakefield's been with the Red Sox so long. He hasn't always been great, or even good, but his contributions are important nonetheless.

    He finished third in AL Cy Young voting in 1995 and won 15 or more games four times, most recently in 2007. Wake's had seven seasons of at least 30 starts. 

21. Dom DiMaggio (1940-1942, 1946-1953)

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    Club Ranks: 7th in runs (1,046), 8th in hits (1,680), 8th in doubles (308), 8th in BB (571), 8th in PA (6,478), 8th in TB (2,363), 10th in games (1,399).

    The least recognized of "The Teammates" (him, Bobby Doerr, Johnny Pesky and Ted Williams), DiMaggio is also, of course, overshadowed by his older brother Joe of New York Yankees fame.

    Like many of his contemporaries, "The Little Professor" lost playing time in his prime due to serving in World War II.

    DiMaggio was a Red Sox lifer and a seven-time All-Star.

20. Luis Tiant (1971-1978)

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    Club Ranks: 4th in IP (1774.2), 4th in starts (238), 4th in SHO (26), 5th in wins (122), T-6th in CG (113), 5th in SO (1,075), 10th in BAA (.245).

    "El Tiante" anchored Red Sox pitching in the 1970s. His Red Sox career began on a minor league contract at the age of 30, when he was attempting to revive his career after fracturing his right scapula in 1970.

    A two-time All-Star and a three-time finisher in AL Cy Young Top 10s, Tiante was a true workhorse, logging four seasons of at least 260 IP, including a whopping 311.1 in 1974.

    In the 1975 postseason, Tiant tossed a complete game versus the A's in Game 1 of the ALCS and then went 2-0 with a 3.60 ERA in three World Series starts. He threw complete games in Game 1 and Game 4; the former was also a shutout. He received a no-decision in the famous Game 6. 

19. Nomar Garciaparra (1996-2004)

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    Club Ranks: 4th in AVG (.323), 5th in SLG (.553), 6th in OPS (.923), 10th in doubles (279).

    Nomar Garciaparra had one of baseball's best rookie seasons in 1997, easily winning the AL Rookie of the Year while making the All-Star team and finishing in the top 10 in AL MVP voting.

    Nomar made four more All-Star teams and made four more AL MVP Top 10s, finishing second in 1998, his second full season in the majors.

18. Lefty Grove (1934-1941)

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    Club Ranks: 5th in CG (119), 10th in IP (1539.2), 10th in wins (105).

    Lefty Grove was an All-Star five of his eight years in Boston. He also won four AL ERA titles.

    Not too shabby considering he was 34 when he was traded to the Red Sox from the Philadelphia Athletics.

17. David Ortiz (2003-Present)

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    Club Ranks: 4th in SLG (.570), 4th in OPS (.958), 5th in HR (320), 6th in RBI (1,028), 7th in TB (2,701), 7th in BB (769), 7th in doubles (348), 9th in runs (844).

    Ortiz would rank higher on the all-time list if he played a lick of defense. Ortiz is now clearly past his zenith but is arguably still in a prime of sorts. 

    His contributions to the championships of 2004 and 2007, particularly the former, helps his all-time status as well.

    In every season from 2003 to 2007, Ortiz placed in the top 5 in AL MVP voting. He is a seven-time All-Star and a four-time Silver Slugger winner.

16. Jason Varitek (1997-Present)

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    Clubs Ranks: 1st in games caught (1,546), 9th in games (1,546), 9th in doubles (306), 10th in RBI (757), 10th in PA (5,839).

    Jason Varitek's career in Boston may be done, but what a career he's had. A two-time champion and a three-time All-Star, Tek has served as team captain since 2005.

    Varitek has always been praised for his game-calling abilities, which is a difficult value to access. 

    He has caught four no-hitters, a Major League Baseball record.

15. Bobby Doerr (1937-1944, 1946-1951)

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    Club Ranks: 5th in games (1,865), 5th in RBI (1,247), 5th in runs (1,094), 5th in doubles (381), 5th in TB (3,270), 6th in hits (2,042), 6th in BB (809), 8th in HR (223), 8th in PA (8,028).

    Like his other "Teammates," long-time second baseman Bobby Doerr, another Red Sox lifer, lost time during his prime because of military service.

    Widely recognized as an offensive force, Doerr, a nine-time All-Star, was also a slick fielder. His number, one, was retired by the Red Sox in 1988. 

14. Carlton Fisk (1969, 1971-1980)

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    Club Ranks: 2nd in games caught (1,078).

    Fisk is not a major force on the Red Sox all-time ledger due to his relatively short Red Sox career and a variety of injuries during his Boston career that limited his playing time.

    That said, Fisk was pure dynamite: As a Red Sox he was a seven-time All-Star and a three-time top-10 finisher in AL MVP voting. 

    Fisk, who won the 1972 AL Rookie of the Year, is of course most remembered for his famous home run to win Game 6 of the 1975 World Series.

    Fisk's number, 27, was retired by the Red Sox in 2000, the same year he was inducted into the Hall of Fame.

13. "Smoky Joe" Wood (1908-1915)

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    Club Ranks: 1st in ERA (1.99), 3rd in WHIP (1.08), 3rd in SHO (28), 3rd in BAA (.219), 4th in CG (121), 6th in wins (117), 8th in SO (986).

    "Smoky Joe" Wood dominated on the mound for the strong Red Sox teams of The Teens, winning World Series titles in 1912 and 1915.

    In 1912, his finest season, the 22-year-old Wood led the majors with 34 wins, 35 complete games and 10 shutouts.

12. Babe Ruth (1914-1919)

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    Club Ranks: 2nd in BAA (.217), 4th in ERA (2.19), 8th in WHIP (1.14), 8th in CG (105), T-10th in SHO (17).

    Everyone knows Babe Ruth was a pitcher with the Red Sox before he was infamously sold to the Yankees in 1919.

    What is not as well known, however, is that Ruth was a filthy good pitcher, anchoring the Red Sox pitching staff for three championship seasons in four years (’15, ’16 and ’18).

    In 1918, Ruth led the majors with 11 home runs despite only making 317 at-bats.

    Over his final two years with the Sox, Ruth began his transition to a full-time hitter, pitching in only 17 games in 1919 and winning another home run crown, this time with 29.

    Ruth was part of the Hall of Fame's inaugural class in 1936.

11. Jimmie Foxx (1936-1942)

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    Club Ranks: 2nd in OBP (.429), 2nd in SLG (.605), 2nd in OPS (1.034), 6th in AVG (.320), 8th in RBI (788), 9th in HR (222).

    "Double X" was right in his prime when he came to Boston via the Philadelphia A's, and he left a legacy as one of the team's fiercest power hitters.

    Playing on the high-flying Red Sox of the late '30s and early '40s, Foxx made five All-Star teams and finished in the top 10 in AL MVP voting three times (winning in ’38 and finishing second in ’39).

    His 50 home runs in ’38 set a club record that would stand until David Ortiz launched 54 in 2006.

    Foxx also served as team captain from 1940 to 1942.

    Foxx was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1951.

10. Wade Boggs (1982-1992)

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    Club Ranks: 2nd in AVG (.338), 3rd in OBP (.428), 4th in BB (1,004), 4th in doubles (422), 5th in hits (2,098), 6th in runs (1,067), 6th in TB (2,869), 7th in games (1,625), 8th in PA (7,323), 9th in OPS (.890).

    Wade Boggs was an eight-time All-Star, a five-time AL batting champion, a four-time finisher in AL MVP voting top-10s and a six-time Silver Slugger over his 11 seasons with Boston. 

    From 1983-1989, Boggs made at least 200 hits, an AL-record seven-season streak that would be broken two decades later by Ichiro.

    Boggs was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2005, his first year of eligibility. 

9. Manny Ramirez (2001-2008)

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    Club Ranks: 3rd in SLG (.588), 3rd in OPS (.999), 5th in OBP (.411), 6th in HR (274), 7th in RBI (868), 9th in AVG (.312), 9th in TB (2,324).

    Manny Ramirez's run with the Red Sox was an extraordinary display of offensive prowess.

    Over his eight seasons with Boston, Manny never failed to make an All-Star team. Only twice did he fail to win a Silver Slugger or finish outside of the AL MVP voting top-10.

    Manny also won the AL batting title in 2002, the 2004 World Series MVP and the 2004 AL Hank Aaron Award.

    With David Ortiz, Ramirez was one-half of one of baseball's best-ever 3-4 combos. 

8. Tris Speaker (1907-1915)

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    Club Ranks: 2nd in triples (106), 2nd in SB (267), 3rd in AVG (.337), 4th in OBP (.414), 8th in OPS (.896).

    Is Tris Speaker underrated? I say yes.

    Speaker was a power hitter for his era, swatting scores of doubles and triples in the days of cavernous ballparks with little to no reachable home run fencing.

    He played a slick center field and was a two-time World Series champion during his Red Sox days.

    In 1916, Speaker was infamously traded to the Indians when he refused to take a pay cut from team president J.J. Lannin. 

    Speaker was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1937, the Hall's second year of existence.

7. Dwight Evans (1972-1990)

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    Club Ranks: 2nd in games (2,505), 2nd in PA (10,240), 3rd in BB (1,337), 3rd in runs (1,435), 3rd in doubles (474), 4th in TB (4,128), 4th in Hits (2,373), 4th in HR (379), 4th in RBI (1,346), 8th in triples (72).

    Dwight Evans played his entire career for the Red Sox before playing for the Baltimore Orioles for a single season in 1991, his final season.

    "Dewey" was a three-time All-Star, a three-time top-10 finisher in AL MVP voting, a two-time Silver Slugger winner and an eight-time Gold Glove winner.

    Evans had a remarkably long and productive career. From 1978 until 1990, his final year in Boston, Evans played in at least 146 games in a season all but three times.

6. Jim Rice (1974-1989)

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    Club Ranks: 3rd in HR (382), 3rd in RBI (1,451), 4th in games (2,089), 3rd in runs (1,435), 3rd in hits (2,452), 3rd in TB (4,129), 4th in PA (9,058), 6th in doubles (373), 6th in triples (79), 8th in SLG (.502), 9th in BB (670).

    An eight-time All-Star and a two-time Silver Slugger winner, in 1975 Jim Rice finished second to teammate Fred Lynn for AL Rookie of the Year honors and third in AL MVP voting—another award won by Lynn.

    Rice would infamously not play in the postseason that fall, as the Red Sox did not want to test the injured wrist of their young star, which had been hurt on a HBP in the regular season's final week.

    Ruce finished top-5 in AL MVP voting five other times, winning the award in 1978.

    In a 10-season stretch from ’75 to ’86, he played in at least 140 games all but two times.

    Rice served as team captain from 1985 until his retirement. After several close calls, Rice was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2009 in his final season on the ballot. His number, 14, was retired by the Red Sox that year as well. 

5. Cy Young (1901-1908)

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    Club Ranks: T-1st in wins (192), T-1st in SHO (38), 1st in CG (275), 1st in WHIP (0.97), 2nd in ERA (2.00), 3rd in starts (297), 3rd in IP (2,728.1), 4th in SO (1,341), 7th in BAA (.233), 8th in games (327).

    Cy Young was good, but just how good was he? I rank him behind Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez. He may be a greater player than either, or both, of these two overall, but they were both better Red Sox players than Young.

    Young was no slouch though. A World Series champion in 1903, Young pitched the first perfect game in AL history in 1904, the first of his two no-hitters for the Red Sox.

    Like Lefty Grove, Young enjoyed extraordinary success for his age; he turned 34 just before the 1901 season, his first with the Red Sox.

    Young was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1937, the Hall's second year of existence. 

4. Roger Clemens (1984-1996)

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    Club Ranks: T-1st in wins (192), T-1st in SHO (38), 1st in SO (2,590), 2nd in starts (382), 2nd in IP (2,776.0), 5th in BAA (.229), 6th in games (383), 9th in WHIP (1.16), 9th in CG (100).

    "The Rocket" had a terrific 13-year run in Boston, distinguishing himself with three AL Cy Young Awards and six top-10 AL Cy Young seasons. A five-time All-Star, Clemens won the AL MVP in 1986 and finished third in voting in 1990.

    With Pedro Martinez's greatness following immediately on the heels of Clemens' infamous departure to Toronto, it can be easy to undervalue Clemens' own contributions and brilliance in the Boston uniform.

3. Pedro Martinez (1998-2004)

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    Club Ranks: 1st in BAA (.206), 2nd in WHIP (0.98), 3rd in SO (1,683), T-6th in wins (117), 7th in ERA (2.52), T-10th in starts (201).

    Pedro ranks highest among the Boston pitching triumvirate because of when he pitched—in the heart of the Steroid Era, Pedro put together two of the finest full seasons of pitching in 1999 and 2000.

    A six-time All-Star in Boston, Martinez won two Cy Young awards and finished top-5 in another three. He also had two top-5 finishes in AL MVP voting, infamously finishing second for the award in 1999. 

    A future Hall of Famer, Martinez has to be considered one of the most electrifying players ever to wear the Red Sox uniform. He's also a Red Sox World Series champion.

2. Carl Yastrzemski (1961-1983)

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    Club Ranks: 1st in games (3,308), 1st in runs (1,816), 1st in doubles (646), 1st in RBI (1,844), 1st in TB (5,539), 1st in PA (13,991), 2nd in BB (1,845), 2nd in HR (452), 4th in SB (168).

    Carl Yastrzemski took over for Ted Williams in left field and did all right for himself, didn't he?

    Yaz is perhaps best known for his 1967 season. He won the AL MVP behind a Triple Crown performance—no hitter has accomplished this feat since him. 

    The Red Sox won their first pennant in 21 years behind Yaz's torrid hitting in the season's final two weeks. Over that stretch, Yaz batted .513 with five homers and 16 RBI.

    Yaz had a prolific career. He was selected to 18 All-Star teams. He won three AL batting titles, finished top-10 for the AL MVP four times and won six Gold Gloves.

    Yaz served as team captain from 1966 on, interrupted only by Dick Williams' tenure as a manager from 1967 to 1969, in which their was no team captain.

    He is the only Red Sox in the 3,000-hit club. 

    His number, eight, was retired by the Red Sox in 1989. Yaz was also elected to the Hall of Fame that year.

1. Ted Williams (1939-1942, 1946-1960)

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    Club Ranks: 1st in AVG (.344), 1st in OBP (.482), 1st in SLG (.634), 1st in OPS (1.115), 1st in HR (521), 1st in BB (2,019), 2nd in RBI (1,839), 2nd in runs (1,798), 2nd in hits (2,654), 2nd in doubles (525), 2nd in TB (4,884), 3rd in games (2,292), 3rd in PA (9,791), 9th in triples (71).

    Is there really any question here?

    A 19-time All-Star and a Red Sox lifer, Williams won two AL MVPs and finished in the top-10, 10 other times. He won six AL batting titles and four home run crowns.

    The scariest part about Ted Williams' numbers is that he lost a full three seasons due to World War II and most of another two seasons due to the Korean War.

    "The Splendid Splinter" was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1966 and his number, nine, was retired by the Red Sox in 1984.

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