Where Does Tim Wakefield Fit In the Pantheon of Red Sox Pitchers?

Now that Wakefield finally has his 200th win, we can all breathe a sigh of relief, both for the 200 part and for the win itself. When Wakefield began this, his odd odyssey, his quest, lo these many weeks ago, who would have thought the win would be such an important one to the team. In a way it's fitting if infuriating that it happened the way it did. It was unconventional, took a long time and ultimately was extremely valuable. That's Wakefield in an nutshell.

So that's his 200th, but what is Tim Wakefield's place in Red Sox history? Where does he fit in with other great Red Sox hurlers? Funny you should ask, because I've been preparing a post on that very topic!

Read on!

Wins

We know Wake has 200 wins, but fourteen of those came during his short stint with the PIttsburgh Pirates. Still, Wake's 186 wins in a Red Sox uniform are nothing to snarf milk through your nose at. Those wins put him in third place on the Red Sox all time win list behind two familiar names and Hall of Fame talents, Roger Clemens and Cy Young, both of won 192 games in Boston.

Games Played (Pitcher Division)

You'd think that a guy with 186 wins for a single organization would have played in a lot of games for that organization. And you'd be right. Wakefield has appeared in 588 games for Boston, second all time to the immortal Bob Stanley's 637.

Innings Pitched & Batters Faced

One place where Wake is in first place, and comfortably so, is total innings pitched for the Red Sox. Wake's 2997 innings pitched is 8% more than the second place holder, Roger Clemens and his 2776. Of course the guy who leads a franchise in innings pitched is also probably going to be the leader in batters faced. True story. Wakefield is no exception, having faced 12,925 batters for the Red Sox. If each at-bat took :30 seconds, it would take Wakefield four and half days to consecutively face them all.

Saves

Wakefield was once a closer. Wow does that sound weird. But it's true no matter how many times you washed your brain with soap. Like the rest of his career, Wakefield's time in the bullpen was productive. Wake netted himself fifteen saves in 1999, which puts him in a seven way tie for 37th place on the list of Most Saves in a Single Season for the Red Sox. Very prestigious list, that.

Wild Pitches & Hit Batters

Wakefield's career 4.41 ERA (4.42 for Boston) doesn't make the top fifty ERAs for the Red Sox but his 123 Wild Pitches is the most in team history, almost doubling Roger Clemens second place mark of 72. Wake is also the franchise leader in hitting batters, having struck 175 (including tonight's) in his Boston career.

rWAR

Wakefield has accumulated 29.9 rWAR in his career with the Red Sox, the sixth highest total value of all Red Sox pitchers. Of course nobody is saying Wake has been the sixth best pitcher in Red Sox history, but his tortoise-like pace of productivity has yielded a large cumulative pot of value.

Strikeouts & Walks

Wakefield is second all time in Strikeouts by a Red Sox pitcher and only the second Sox pitcher to ever reach 2,000 total strikeouts. Wake's 2,036 are second only to Roger Clemens and his 2,590. Wake has 1,089 walks to go with those strikeouts, which as far as I can tell is the most ever issued by a Sox pitcher.

Post Season

Wakefield's post season numbers are far from spectacular, but he has pitched for two World Series winners. Although he did not pitch in the 2007 Series, he did contribute 3.2 innings to the 2004 team's successful effort. In fact, Wakefield can claim to be the Game 1 starter for the 2004 World Series.

 * * *

Add it all up and a picture starts to emerge. Tim Wakefield and value are almost synonymous. Through his 17 years in Boston, he has never been a the greatest pitcher on the staff, but no matter where he was asked to go he contributed value. He soaked up innings in middle relief, he closed for a 94 win team, and he's won 16 or more games four times for the Red Sox. He could get right-handers and left-handers out, he could pitch out of the pen, or start a game. He could pitch out of the pen in an emergency even though he was on a starter's schedule, something we all remember him doing in the 2004 playoffs. He has been, as I said above, more of a slow and steady wins the race type of guy, but his final numbers are those of a valuable team player.

Personally, an indelible mark on my soul was created when Wakefield stood on the Yankee Stadium mound after vanquishing the Yankees in 2004. He stood in victory in the same spot that one year prior he had tasted the most bitter of defeats. The site of Wakefield crying on that mound, thinking about what it must have felt like to give up that homer to Aaron Boone that ended the magnificent 2003 season for the Red Sox in one swing. The anguish, fear, and pain that home run caused him I can't know. But the joy, jubilation and, maybe even more importantly, the relief he so publicly expressed on that night and in that place touched my heart.

When ever he finally retires, Wakefield will have left his mark on both the Red Sox record books and Red Sox fans. If we're lucky it will take decades to scrub it all off.

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