There's a lot of reason to look forward when it comes to the Red Sox: John Lackey. Mike Cameron. Adrian Beltre. Those are just a couple of the new guys to look forward to. But sometimes looking back is just as fun.
I decided to go back throughout this last decade and find the best individual hitting performances of any given season for a Red Sox hitter. Perhaps the results aren't too surprising, but being able to say "Player X had the best season for any Red Sox hitter from 2000-2009" is really kind of cool.
I ranked the top 10, but also threw in the next best seven just for fun. After the jump, I reveal the best of the best Red Sox hitters from this past decade.
I could have performed the rankings in any number of ways, but I decided to keep it simple and rank batters by wOBA. wOBA isn't perfect, of course, and that is because no stat is perfect. But for right now, this is my stat of choice and I'm going to use it like I've got nothing else.
No more waiting. Here is the top 10 in descending order:
10. Kevin Youkilis - 2009 (.413 wOBA)
27 hr, .305/.413/.548, 145 ops+
Youkilis's performance from this past season was the only one from the 2009 season to make the list. It was quite an impressive season for Youkilis, with him going down as a "3-4-5" player. Meaning, he hit .300+, he got on base at a .400+ clip and he slugged .500+ or better. A very well-rounded season for Youkilis. I voted for him as the league's No. 2 MVP behind Joe Mauer, but he didn't get much love from any of the voters. Youkilis, though, may one day be an MVP.
9. Manny Ramirez - 2001 (.414 wOBA)
41 hr, .306/.405/.609, 161 ops+
Manny's first year in Boston was a fine one and he certainly showed Red Sox fans what he was capable of. He got on base at a great clip and just slugged the flesh off the ball. This is Manny's first appearance on this list, but it certainly isn't going to be his last. Let's just say Manny was a great baseball player. A really great baseball player.
8. Manny Ramirez - 2004 (.414 wOBA)
43 hr, .308/.397/.613, 152 ops+
Hey look! He's back! You can see how wOBA works a little bit. Manny's numbers are obviously different from 2001 and 2004, but has the same wOBA. In 2001, he has a higher on-base percentage and OPS+, but in 2004, he has a higher batting average and slugging percentage. Once again, a great season for Manny. He finished third in the MVP balloting in 2004 (Vladimir Guerrero won, but if you compare the stats, Manny was the clear winner).
7. David Ortiz - 2005 (.418 wOBA)
47 hr, .300/.397/.604, 158 ops+
Big Papi makes his first appearance on this list, but certainly not his last. He only gets better. Ortiz had a great season in 2005, slugging a career-best 47 home runs. He of course topped this total in 2006, but still the best Papi had put up at that time. It's interesting to note that the highest OPS+ we have seen is the second-worst wOBA on this top 10 list.
6. Manny Ramirez - 2003 (.421 wOBA)
37 hr, .325/.427/.587, 160 ops+
Hey, haven't seen these guy around. Manny's 2003 season was a complete effort. His home runs were down, but could we really complain about 37 home runs? It's also interesting to note that Manny played in a career-high of 154 games and had a career-high in plate appearances (679). The legend of Manny only grows.
5. David Ortiz - 2006 (.427 wOBA)
54 hr, .287/.413/.636, 161 ops+
A stellar season from Mr. Ortiz, for sure. His power shot up with 54 home runs on the season, but his average dropped. It seemed like in this season his usual doubles turned into home runs, as he finished with just 29 two-baggers. Still, Ortiz's power was impressive in 2006. He also set a Red Sox record for home runs in a season in 2006.
4. Nomar Garciaparra - 2000 (.432 wOBA)
21 hr, .372/.434/.599, 155 ops+
Finally, a new name on the list. Nomar's 2000 season was a beautiful one to watch. Everyone waited to see if Nomar could hit the magical .400 mark. It wasn't meant to be, but the run was great. This was when Nomar was in the heart of all of Red Sox Nation. He was the Nation's boy. It's too bad he's fallen from grace, but no one can take 2000 from him. Nomar is No. 4 on this list and also has the lowest home runs hit by anyone on this top 10 list. He's also the only position player to appear that isn't a first baseman, designated hitter or outfielder. He was fun to watch.
3. Manny Ramirez - 2006 (.434 wOBA)
35 hr, .321/.439/.619, 165 ops+
Playing in 130 games this season, Manny still racked. Perhaps he could have hit 50 home runs had he played a full season, but that's asking a lot for a guy that seemed to lose hustle toward the end of seasons. Still, look at the numbers and you can't say you wouldn't love that for a full season. Manny, however, is not done on this list.
2. David Ortiz - 2007 (.448 wOBA)
35 hr, .332/.445/.621, 171 ops+
Once again, an all-around great season from Ortiz. Not only did he hit 35 home runs, but he compiled 52 doubles as well. His 111 walks and his .445 on-base percentage was the best in the league. It's another year where Ortiz was snubbed from really competing in the MVP race. Alex Rodriguez hit 54 home runs in 2007, but I'm sure Ortiz is happier with the end result: he had a ring, A-Rod did not.
1. Manny Ramirez - 2002 (.459 wOBA)
33 hr, .349/.450/.647, 184 ops+
Ah, the greatest season of the Red Sox's decade and, of course, it comes from the bat of Manny Ramirez. It was a shortened -- but still qualified -- season. Just look at the numbers and let's just hope we can see that from a Red Sox again (and can someone tell me how Miguel Tejada won the MVP this year?). Manny led the league in 2002 in both batting average and on-base percentage. He was second in slugging, OPS and OPS+. A full season of this Manny probably wouldn't have kept up the same numbers, but damn, imagine if he did.
To put this into context, American League MVP Joe Mauer had a 170 OPS+ and a .438 wOBA this past season. A great season by all accounts, but not Manny in 2002. Close, but not quite.
Here are the honorable mentions that didn't make the top 10. These are all Red Sox players that had a wOBA greater than .400. It's nice to see names that don't start with "Manny" or "David." A couple surprising names on this list may be Trot Nixon, Carl Everett and JD Drew. Do you still think Drew isn't a good baseball player?