The 2021 baseball season is nearly upon us, so how about we have a little bit of fun before the stress of the regular season? Yes? Okay, perfect. MLB History tells us that the Boston Red Sox have had some pretty good players, so I’ve taken it upon myself to deep dive into the history. I’ll ask you this, what is your paramount Red Sox team? Do you agree with my picks? No? Well then, how about a friendly debate? Read on and see just how much you love or hate my paramount Red Sox team.
MLB History: The Infield
Carlton Fisk (C)
Carlton Fisk‘s catching career was rather amazing. In the famed 1975 season, Fisk hit .331/.395/.529 with a 151 wRC+. Incredible numbers from the catcher position. If we’re being honest, Fisk should have never worn any other Sox uniform. But, when your general manager “forgets” to mail in your contract, things can well, they can go very awry. Fisk finished his career out in the windy city, but his Cooperstown plaque will forever have a “B,” and as the man said himself, “I would like to say that this always has been my favorite hat.” Sorry fellow Jason Varitek lovers, the nod has to go to Fisk.
Jimmie Foxx (1B)
I am taking this pick back old school, way old school. Jimmie Foxx played first base for the Boston Red Sox from 1936 to 1942. In 1938 Foxx won the American League MVP where he led the league with a slash line of .349/.462/.704 and a wRC+ of 173. Now, I clearly never saw Foxx play baseball, but if I’m putting the paramount of Red Sox teams together, there’s no way the nine-time All-Star, three-time American League MVP, 1933 Triple Crown, four-time American League home run leader, hall of fame player isn’t going to be the pick at first.
Dustin Pedroia (2B)
Dustin Pedroia is my generation. He’s my second baseman, and I’ve truly never seen a player play the game of baseball with more heart and determination. Dustin Pedroia has always been listed at five-feet-nine-inches, and we all know that’s generous by about at least three inches. Pedroia played team first, body second, baseball, which arguably ended his career prematurely.
Pedroia was a first-round talent, taken in the second round solely because he was undersized. Pedroia wasn’t a Mookie Betts type, someone taken in the fifth round, whose talent played greater than anyone could ever have expected. Dustin Pedroia‘s career ended with a line of .299/.365/.439, a wRC+ of 115, 46.6 fWAR, American League Rookie of the Year, American League MVP, a Silver Slugger, four Gold Gloves, and two World Series rings. Soon enough Pedroia’s number 15 will rightfully hang on the right-field façade in Fenway Park.
Wade Boggs (3B)
The man that claimed he drank 64 beers on a flight from Cleveland to Boston and inspired an episode of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” When he wasn’t turning the stomachs of Red Sox fans throughout New England riding a horse through Yankee Stadium in 1996, he was producing heavily with his bat. For his career, Boggs hit .328/.415/.443 with a wRC+ of 132. Boggs, along with Fisk and Foxx wears a “B” on his Hall of Fame plaque. Boggs is the clear paramount third baseman, even if I love and appreciate more a player like Mike Lowell.
Nomar Garciaparra (SS)
One day I believe Xander Bogaerts will be the greatest shortstop to ever wear a Red Sox uniform. Until that day comes, it’s very hard to ignore just how damn good Nomar Garciaparra was at baseball. Garciaparra, with the Red Sox, was a five-time All-Star, American League Rookie of the Year, a Silver Slugger award winner, and a two-time American League batting champion. If not for injuries, Garciaparra was on a Hall of Fame track. Dare I say, in his prime, he was better than Derek Jeter. Who am I kidding? He was.
MLB History: The Outfield
Ted Williams (LF)
Can there be a list of Red Sox greats without the mention of the greatest hitter to ever live? No. That list would never exist. It’s impossible to talk about MLB history without discussing “the Splendid Splinter” himself. Ted Williams‘ numbers were truly video game level. He holds the all-time on-base record with .482 and holds a lifetime .344 batting average. Williams blasted 521 home runs, finished his career with a 130.4 fWar, a wRC+ of 188, two Triple Crowns, six batting titles, two American League MVPs, and wears a “B” in Cooperstown. Ted Williams wasn’t just good at baseball, he was one of the best to ever step into the batter’s box.
Tris Speaker (CF)
Tris Speaker played with the Boston Americans and Red Sox from 1907 to 1915. Speaker was a major part of MLB history, having been on two Red Sox World Championship teams in 1912 and 1915. Speaker was the American League MVP and home run leader in 1912 and holds the MLB record of 792 career doubles. Speaker wasn’t just a beast with the bat, he an ace defensively, holding the MLB record for 449 career outfield assists. Sorry, Jackie Bradley Jr., your defense might be the best I’ve ever seen in center field, but this nod easily goes to the Hall of Famer.
Mookie Betts (RF)
I’m not here to talk about Dodger player Mookie Betts, I’m here to talk about Red Sox great, Mookie Betts. And great he was during his Red Sox career from 2014 to 2019. Red Sox fans couldn’t really ask for more from Betts, a four-time All-Star, batting champion, American League MVP, World Series Champion, three-time Silver Slugger, a 30-30 season, and four Gold Gloves. WAR wise there isn’t a more put-together player than Mookie Betts, and his 2018 season of .346/.438/.640, 185 wRC+ and 10.4 fWAR is one of the better seasons of recent memory, and undoubtedly the best overall season of his career. Betts also played elite defense in right field at Fenway.
MLB History: The Pen
MLB history will prove that there wasn’t a better closer for the Red Sox than the whacky, fun-loving Jonathan Papelbon. Papelbon’s journey to the closer role wasn’t the smoothest. Primed to be a starter in 2006, it was only after arm issues and a talk with manager Terry Francona that the decision was made for Papelbon to be the team’s closer, and boy did he flourish. Papelbon finished his Red Sox career with a 2.33 ERA, 219 saves, 509 strikeouts, 197 ERA+, a 1.018 WHIP, four All-Star appearances, and a World Series championship.
Koji was never supposed to be the closer and only assumed the role after injuries to Andrew Bailey and Joel Hanrahan. The dominance by Uehara in 2013 was truly something to behold, as he finished the season with a 1.09 ERA, 0.565 WHIP, 12.2 strikeouts per nine innings, and finishing seventh in the Cy Young Award voting. Koji’s dominance didn’t end with the regular season as he posted a 0.00 ERA, 0.667 WHIP, and three saves in five games on his way to being named ALCS MVP.
Radatz is another player well before not just my baseball watching days, but rather before my life even began. And if the numbers are any indication, Radatz was a damn good pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. Radatz saved 103 games and had 646 strikeouts in 576.1 innings pitched from 1962 to 1966 with the Red Sox. Radatz was a two-time American League saves leader, as well as a two-time All-Star.
Kimbrel was traded to the Boston Red Sox on November 13, 2015, from the San Diego Padres and immediately made an impact during the 2016 season. Kimbrel finished his Red Sox career with 108 saves, 2.44 ERA, a 0.906 WHIP, and 305 strikeouts in 184.1 innings pitched over three seasons. He also accumulated three All-Star appearances, was the 2017 Reliever of the Year, and a World Series Champion in 2018.
Bob Stanley might be best known for coming into game 6 of the 1986 World Series one out away with the Red Sox clinching their first World Series Championship since 1918. MLB history will tell you the Red Sox didn’t win that World Series and that they would have to wait till 2004 to finally clinch. What that one game fails to tell is that Bob Stanley was easily one of the best relief pitchers in Red Sox history. Stanley pitched his whole career for the Red Sox from 1977 to 1989. Stanley was a jack of all trades, even pitching to 168.2 innings exclusively as a reliever in 1982. Stanley finished his career with a 3.64 ERA, 132 saves, a 1.36 WHIP in 1707 innings pitched.
MLB History: The Starters
The Boston Red Sox traded for Pedro Martínez in November of 1997, and let’s just say the man did not disappoint. In fact, I don’t think any pitcher could have performed better than Martinez did for the Red Sox. From 1998 to 2004 Martínez pitched to a 2.52 ERA, 190 ERA+, 0.978 WHIP, 1683 strikeouts in 1383.2 innings pitched. Pedro won two Cy Young Awards, made four All-Star teams, lead all of MLB in wins in 1999, and led MLB in ERA in 1999, 2000, 2002, and 2003. He also led the America League in strikeouts in 1999, 2000, and 2002. His number 45 is forever retired at Fenway, and his “B” plaque hangs in Cooperstown.
Roger Clemens is easily the best Red Sox homegrown pitcher. Drafted by Boston with the 19th overall pick our of Texas in the 1983 draft, Clemens quickly rose through the ranks, making his major league debut May 15, 1984. Clemens finished his Red Sox career with a 3.06 ERA, 2,590 strikeouts, a 144 ERA+, five All-Star appearances, three Cy Young Awards, an American League MVP, and two 20 strikeout games. Clemens was the definition of an ace while in Boston.
Can you have a list of the best pitchers without bringing up one of the best in MLB history, the man whose name is on the award given to the best pitcher each year in baseball? I don’t believe you can. Young pitched with the Americans/Red Sox from 1901 to 1908 with a 2.00 ERA, 147 ERA+, 0.970 WHIP, and 1,341 strikeouts. Young amassed a World Series win and a pitching Triple Crown. He was kind of good at the whole pitching thing, to say the least.
Chris Sale was traded to the Red Sox in December 2016, and he did not disappoint. His 2017 was stellar, finishing second in the Cy Young voting, with a 2.90 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, and led the league in strikeouts with 308, strikeouts per nine with 12.9 and innings pitched with 214.1. Sale was the definition of a workhorse, and when healthy is arguably the best lefty pitcher in baseball. Sale also reached 2,000 strikeouts faster than anyone in MLB history, has a 5.37 strikeout-to-walk ration and 1.23 strikeout per nine innings, all MLB records.
Beckett being on the list might be my most controversial pick. He was never the best pitcher in Red Sox history, but he was sensational in the 2007 playoffs, and quite frankly, I don’t know if I want the ball in the hand of anyone not named Josh Beckett when it comes to a winner take all game. Beckett pitched 14 innings in the 2007 ALCS, had a 2-0 record, a 1.93 ERA 0.714 WHIP, and quite frankly the Red Sox don’t come back down 1-3 to win that ALCS without the brilliant pitching by Beckett.
MLB History: The Big Man
MLB history will show that the greatest designated hitter made his name playing baseball in Boston. That man is David “Big Papi” Ortiz, and he’s just about as clutch with his bat as anyone that’s ever played the game. Over his career in Boston Ortiz hit .288/.385/.385 with a 147 OPS+, 445 home runs, and 1403 RBIs. Ortiz’s 2013 World Series was seriously one of the best offensive performances maybe ever seen. Ortiz hit .688/.760/1.188 with an OPS of 1.948 as well as two home runs and 6 RBIs. No know knows how to put a team on their back quite like Big Papi.
That’s it. That’s my paramount Red Sox team. What’s yours? Did I miss anyone? Let me know. Let us chat about it!
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