Saturday, November 9, 2019

All-Time Teams: Red Sox

Obviously I was not able to finish my All-Time Teams series during Major League Baseball's 150th season. However I do plan to finish it this off-season. 

A quick reminder: players can only represent one team, and when a great player's career was a near-even split between two teams I allocated that player to the team that "needs" him the most. [A second reminder: I tried to be as objective as possible but it's still my project and my opinions.]

Now that we're all caught up, let's take a look at the All-Time Team for the Boston Red Sox.

 Manager: Joe Cronin
Home: Fenway Park

Leading off for the Red Sox.. the Second Baseman.. Dustin Pedroia  

Dustin Pedroia is at the top of this lineup largely because he is the only player on the Sox' All-Time Team with decent speed. "The Laser Show" was one of the best all-around second basemen in the game when healthy. In addition to winning multiple World Series rings, Pedroia has also earned a Rookie of the Year award, an MVP award, four Gold Gloves and a Silver Slugger. His career slash line of .299/.365/.439 compares favorably to Hall of Famer Bobby Doerr's .288/.362/.461. You can't go wrong with either player.


Batting second for Boston.. the Third Baseman.. Wade Boggs 

The American League's answer to Tony Gwynn, Wade Boggs is among the greatest pure hitters in modern baseball history. The five-time batting champion compiled seven straight 200-hit seasons in the 1980s. Despite being an 8-WAR player for many years, the "Chicken Man" never finished in the top three for AL MVP voting. Boggs won his only World Series with the Yankees and collected his 3,000th hit with the Devil Rays, but the bulk of his Hall of Fame resume was built in Boston.


Batting third.. the Left Fielder.. Ted Williams 

Boston has had a long tradition of great left fielders but none are greater than the Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived. Ted Williams is the all-time leader in on-base % and the last player ever to hit .400 in a season. As a 38 year-old in 1957, Williams batted .388; only two players have hit for a higher average since. Ted led the AL in batting six times, slugging nine times, and walks eight times. He won two AL MVP awards and finished second (to Yankees) in MVP voting four times. Ted Williams would be my choice as the all-time greatest left fielder among all teams.


Batting fourth.. the Designated Hitter.. David Ortiz

Batting behind the greatest hitter of all-time is perhaps the greatest designated hitter of all-time. David Ortiz was a monster in the postseason, winning ALCS MVP in 2004 and World Series MVP in 2013. "Big Papi" had four top-4 finishes in league MVP voting, an impressive feat for a true DH. Ortiz is 17th all-time in home runs with 541 (five more than Mickey Mantle) and owns the Red Sox' single-season record with 54 in 2006. In his final season at age 40, Ortiz led the AL in doubles, slugging, and OPS and led the majors in RBI. He would be the ideal cleanup hitter in any lineup.

Batting fifth.. the First Baseman.. Carl Yastrzemski

Four straight left-handed batters isn't ideal - except at Fenway Park. Ted Williams is locked into left field so we'll cheat a little and start Yastrzemski at first base - where he played 765 of his franchise record 3,308 games. A seven-time Gold Glover in the outfield, Yaz won three batting titles in the dead-ball 1960s, and his legendary 1967 season earned him a Triple Crown and an MVP award. Only eight players have more career hits than Carl's 3,419 - and Honus Wagner is just one hit ahead of him.


Batting sixth.. the Shortstop.. Nomar Garciaparra

A mercurial figure in Red Sox history, Nomar Garciaparra was on track to become one of the greatest power-hitting middle infielders of all-time. In his nine years with Boston, Nomar slashed an astounding .323/.370/.553 and won back-to-back batting titles in 1999 and 2000. The six-time all-star boasts a career OPS of .882 - higher than Hall of Famers Wade Boggs, Carl Yastrzemski, and Jim Rice. It was a shock to Sox fans when Theo Epstein traded his superstar shortstop to Chicago in 2004, but the addition-by-subtraction was prescient as Garciaparra's prime years were already behind him.


Batting seventh.. the Center Fielder.. Fred Lynn

Center field was a tough call. Tris Speaker played longer for another team. Mookie Betts and Reggie Smith were considered as well. I landed on Fred Lynn, whose Boston tenure was a bit longer and better than Betts' (prove me wrong, Mookie!) The first player in major league history to win a league MVP award in his rookie season, Lynn was key to the Red Sox' run to the 1975 World Series. A nine-time all-star and four-time Gold Glove winner, Lynn's .902 OPS+ with the Sox is seventh in team history and highest among center fielders.


Batting eighth.. the Right Fielder.. Dwight Evans

No one handled right field at Fenway better than Dwight Evans. The Red Sox stalwart won eight Gold Gloves and played more games in a Boston uniform than anyone except Carl Yastrzemski. Evans only made three all-star teams (however relevant those are) and finished top-five in AL MVP voting just twice, though his production increased well into his thirties. Durable and consistent, Evans' Hall of Fame candidacy was overlooked by the BBWAA. He's got another chance this winter with the Modern Era ballot. Perhaps Dewey will finally get his due.

Batting ninth.. the Catcher.. Carlton Fisk

I'd be lying if I said I don't feel a little guilty for "stealing" Carlton Fisk from Chicago. The legendary backstop caught more games with the White Sox than the Red Sox. That said, the Pale Hose have another Hall of Fame catcher - and Fisk's iconic Game Six homer didn't come at Comiskey. "Pudge" is 12th in Red Sox history in both offensive WAR and defensive WAR. Rather than recount his stats, I'll just post this clip from Good Will Hunting. Enjoy!

The Starting Pitcher for the Red Sox.. Pedro Martinez

Twenty years have passed since Pedro Jaime Martinez finished second to the other Pudge in AL MVP voting - and I am still not over it. Pedro's peak years came in the most hitter-friendly era of all-time, and he dominated nearly all of them. His fielding-independent ERA in '99 was 1.39. His actual ERA in 2000 was 1.74 -- in the American League, at the height of the steroid era. Pedro's ERA+ that year? 291, the highest in modern baseball history. Martinez finished top-three in Cy Young voting in each of his six full seasons with the Red Sox. I'll take Pedro over Roger Clemens any day, in any era. Even against the Yankees.

Now let's look at the Red Sox' bench and bullpen:

Catcher: Jason Varitek
1st base: Mo Vaughn
Infield: Bobby Doerr
Outfield: Jim Rice
Outfield: Reggie Smith

It was tough to leave Jim Rice out of the starting lineup, but I don't see how I could have squeezed him in. I left pre-war Hall of Famer Harry Hooper off the team in favor of Smith, a non-HOFer with better numbers in Beantown. Big Mo was the 1995 AL MVP; I almost forget how good he was in the 1990s.

#2 starter: Roger Clemens
#3 starter: Cy Young

#4 starter: Luis Tiant
#5 starter: Smoky Joe Wood

That's right folks, the namesake of the award for pitching excellence.. is Boston's number three starter. Denton True Young pitched twelve seasons in Cleveland, but nine of those were for the long-defunct Spiders. There's a bit of a drop-off after Cy, though Tiant and Wood were excellent starters in their own right. (Wood died in my hometown. I must go and research this.)

RH reliever: Ellis Kinder
RH reliever: Bob Stanley
RH reliever: Bill Campbell
RH reliever: Dick Radatz
RH reliever: Koji Uehara
RH reliever: Jonathan Papelbon

Kinder excelled in his mid-late thirties, leading the league in saves in 1951 and 1953. Stanley was an all-star in 1983 and is second to Papelbon in carer saves for the Sawx. Uehara barely qualifies, but his four-year tenure in Boston should not be ignored. Pap was a four-time all-star whose antics were fun.. until they weren't.

Stay tuned for our next All-Time Team, the Chicago Cubs.

Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend!



  1. That was worth the wait! So many legends on that team!

  2. You know you have a good team when there are Hall of Famers on the bench. Does this mean you think Pedroia is a Hall of Famer?

    As great as this team is, your next team is the one I'm really looking forward to reading.

    1. Two more good years for Pedroia would have made his HOF case a lot stronger. As it stands now, I don’t think he gets in. The standards were lower in Doerr’s day.

  3. Although I'm not a baseball guy and most of these names are new to me from seeing them in this post, I'm glad you're back on this series! Now, if you do the NHL after this, then I will be scouring my files to see who I've added to my collection already or still need to chase down...

    1. Don't give me any ideas Billy! Lol, I might throw something together for the NHL some day, but it wouldn't have nearly as much statistical storytelling.

  4. I'm thrilled to see you got to the Red Sox all-time team. This lineup is loaded and there's a lot to comment on.
    1. Pedroia's a toss-up when it comes to the HOF. I don't think he'll get in, not because of his stat line, but how few at-bats he's had over the last few seasons.
    2. Seriously, Boggs never finished top 3 in MVP voting? That's nuts.
    3. After they signed him to an extension and he had a monster 2019 season, perhaps Xander Bogaerts will replace Nomar Garciaparra on this team one day.
    4. I love seeing Reggie Smith and Dwight Evans getting some love. Hopefully the latter will end up in Cooperstown soon.
    5. I totally agree that Pedro Martinez should 100% be the ace. He was one of the most dominant pitchers in the game's history.

    Amazing post.

    1. Thanks Henry, I'm thrilled you enjoyed it! I was surprised to see that Boggs factoid as well. Really wish Pedey could have stayed healthy; Cooperstown Cred was cautiously optimistic about his HOF chances after one lost season. Two lost seasons are just too much to overcome.

      Dwight Evans, on the other hand...

  5. Fisk on the Red Sox is absolutely the right call. It's true that he played more games in pale hose, but he had more than 10 more WAR with Boston. Speaking of WAR, I'm fairly shocked to find Pedroia actually has (slightly) more than Doerr.

    Ted Williams was such an indifferent fielder that on almost any other team I'd want to make him the DH, but you've got to have Ortiz there. And it's not as though Jim Rice, who would be the logical replacement, was a good fielder either.

    Definitely rooting for Evans to make the Hall, although Marvin Miller and Lou Whitaker are even higher priorities. And Luis Tiant deserves to get in, but he wasn't even nominated this year.

    1. Thank you Brett, I feel better about Fisk now. I've heard that about Ted; he'd actually practice his swing while standing in left field. DH would have suited him IRL.

      And I'm with you about Sweet Lou. He should get in ahead of Evans for sure.

  6. What? No Oil Can Boyd? This series has lost all credibility. I demand a refund!!1!!
    LOL seriously though its great you've kept going with this series.
    I hadn't realized how weak Red Sox first baseman have been through the years if Mo Vaughn is basically the best one.

    1. Lol, thanks for that Bo. I needed the laugh after my Orioles post. Oil Can, Sam Horn, and Rich Garces all should have made this team. I'm ashamed of myself haha.

      The lack of all-time great 1st basemen didn't occur to me until your comment. Great point.

  7. No need to apologize over choosing Fisk as a Red Sock. I equate him with Boston as equally as I do Yaz, Rice or Lynn. I barely remember the Pale Sock Fisk.

    1. I'm glad a '70s expert like yourself confirms Fisk belongs here. I grew up seeing him as a pale hose catcher. Fred Lynn was a tough one, too.

  8. Yeesh. What do you do if you're pitching against that lineup? You just don't get a break.

  9. Chris- fantastic concept for these greatest teams using the cards. I came across your blog this morning when I was on Baseball Reference looking at aforementioned Smoky Joe Wood, who I was reading about in a biography of Walter Johnson, “Baseball’s Big Train”.

    A real nightmare to face as a 5th starter, the inclusion of the enigmatic Wood is a testament to the depth of your thinking. Wood posted a minuscule 1.99 ERA through his age 25 season before succumbing to the arm problems that limited him to only 7 appearances over his past 5 years in baseball.

    One of my favorite baseball cards in my collection is a Classic T202 Hassan triple folder Joe Wood \ Tristan Speaker card. Was glad to see that you mentioned Speaker and why you didn’t choose him as I hadn’t realized that he had spent a majority of hi season’s away from playing or the Boston “Americans”, the team I always most closely associated him with. Again hats off to you for a great job on this.

  10. Thank you so much for reading and commenting! I'm thrilled that you enjoyed this post and I hope you'll stick around for this series. When it came to filling out these rosters I tried to imagine every player at peak health/performance which is why I chose Wood over someone like Tim Wakefield who had a longer career but a lower ceiling.

    That T202 triple folder is a very impressive card! Do you collect vintage HOFers, or particular players?

    1. I can’t wait to continue to read through as you do additional teams. I’m a big fan of vintage cards. I like to collect the following sets in particular:T205, 1933 + 1934 Goudey, 1956 Topps, 1968 Topps and Tiffany \ Glossy cards from the 80s. I also love the 1914 and 1915 crackerjack issues but those are pretty tough to collect because of the cost. I only have a couple of those.

  11. Man. So many legends on this team. I was always a big fan of the Rice, Lynn, and Evans outfield.

  12. Nice choices here, Chris! I like the way you're presenting these, too.

  13. Awesome post Chris. Glad these are back. I love the concept of it

  14. Yep, this was totally worth the wait as a Sox fan! Awesome job Chris, I can't disagree with any of your selections. I second the comment that maybe someday we'll see Xander Bogaerts earn a spot on this fantasy team!

  15. No Tris Speaker? I'd have to assume then that this means that Cleveland needed him more, yes?

    1. Yes and no. The Indians are loaded with outfielders, but Speaker spent two more seasons there than he did in Boston. I couldn't justify it.