The Red Sox have created a website devoted to selecting the greatest Red Sox team of the Fenway era, a time period that is basically a Best of the Boston Red Sox over the last 100 years. The plan is to create a lineup (as well as top lefty and righty starter) from the rich history of the Red Sox as part of the 100-year anniversary of Fenway Park's opening.
This, of course, gives us an opportunity to discuss and debate the merits of those nominated for each position. As of February 23, voting opened for the first positions -- lefty and righty starting pitchers -- and will continue through February 26, so that's where we'll start. It's not clear if they are selecting a full rotation (although it doesn't seem like they are), but feel free to consider it that way at least in our comment section.
Now, my first inclination is to just pick whoever the Very Best player was at each position, but we've all got our own personal reasons for loving specific players from the Red Sox. Emotional ties are not inadmissible here: let's hear why you love any of these guys, whether it's because they are an all-time great or just a reason you loved baseball.
Here are the nominees, along with pertinent Boston-only years and statistics:
|Herb Pennock||1915-1922, 1934||1089||100|
The Red Sox have had some great left-handers over the years, but there's a clear top here if you're just looking at the numbers. Lefty Grove is a Hall of Famer who spent eight years with the Red Sox, and was, statistically, the most productive left-hander they have ever had. Jon Lester isn't done with his Boston career yet, but he's done well for himself, sitting third in ERA+ on this list. My personal pick here would go to Grove, because of just how ridiculously good he was with the Red Sox (he led the league in ERA and ERA+ in four of his eight seasons in town, even though he wasn't quite the strikeout pitcher of his youth anymore), but there are enough choices here that can be driven by both emotion and statistics for many fans.
|Dennis Eckersley||1978-1984, 1998||1371||109|
|Smoky Joe Wood||1908-1915||1416||149|
Roger Clemens, in terms of compiling, is the greatest Red Sox pitcher ever. He threw more innings for the Red Sox than anyone besides Tim Wakefield, and for all Wakefield's merits, he was never at Clemens' level. Clemens led the majors in ERA four times with Boston, took home three of his seven Cy Youngs, won his only MVP, and was already a Hall of Fame caliber arm before he ever left this city. He was ridiculously impressive during his 13 years with the Red Sox, but he had one fatal flaw: he wasn't Pedro Martinez.
Pedro wasn't in Boston as long as Clemens (seven years against 13). He didn't throw anywhere near as many innings -- just half as many -- didn't win nearly as many games, didn't strike out anywhere close to as any hitters with the Red Sox. But he was Pedro, and for anyone who saw him, that's enough. What he lacked in counting stats, he made up for in seven years of brilliance: Pedro's 191 ERA+ attests to this, as does his two-year stretch in 1999 and 2000 where he was 165 percent better by ERA than your average pitcher.
From 1998 through 2003, there wasn't another pitcher on the planet who could touch Pedro. There isn't one around now who can touch what he did then. He averaged 11 strikeouts per nine innings with the Red Sox, and in his "worst" campaign, he had an ERA+ of 125: better than the career Red Sox numbers for all but three of these righties.
Pedro was so good that I regret not being older when he pitched here, as I feel like I wasn't able to fully appreciate what he was doing. There's absolutely nothing wrong with Clemens, but he's not Pedro, and that makes my vote easy.
What about you? Who's the top lefty and righty for you, and why?