Continuing what will be a 3-part series on Red Sox teams over the past 42 years, we will now look at the pitching staffs. I forgot to mention in the previous Post that both 1994 and 1981 are being held out of these rankings due to the short-seasons. I'm using baseball-reference.com's version of WAR.
Chart of Red Sox Pitching Seasons (2013-1972)
Top 5 Seasons by pWAR
- 2007 (30.9): With a score of over 3 WAR higher than the second place finishers, 2007 was the most outstanding pitching season of the past 42 years. They say pitching wins championships and in this case "they" are right. The top 3 of Beckett (6.5), Dice-K (4.1) and Curt Schilling (4.0) led the rotation while the 1/2 punch of Okajima (2.9) and Papelbon (3.2) closed things out.
- 1992 (27.2): 92 was a very dichotomous year for the Sox. While the hitting was setting records for futility (4.4 WAR total), the pitching staff comes in 2nd place over the past 42 years. It had to be a rough year to be a Sox pitcher knowing that you were getting little to no run support. Roger Clemens (8.8) garnered the largest part of the 27+ WAR but Frankie Viola (6.3) was no slouch and the swiss-army knife bullpen included Greg Harris (3.1) and Danny Darwin (2.7).
- 1990 (27.2): The Sox made the playoffs in 1990 thanks in large part to their pitching and defense. They went out quickly to the A's, however, due to lack of offense and a break-down by the pitching staff. This squad was led by Clemens (10.6) and Mike Boddicker (6.1) while Tom Bolton (3.1) and Greg Harris (3.0) did the dirty work in the middle. The back end was a soup-du-jour of closers: Jeff Reardon, Rob Murphy, Lee Smith.
- 1978 (26.2): Ah, 1978....arguably the best Sox team to not make the playoffs (Bucky Bleeping Dent and all). Imagine winning 99 regular season games and then going home due to the dreaded one-game playoff. The 1978 squad only used 14 pitchers all year (imagine that nowadays) and it was a deep squad even though it was not filled with superstars. Leading the way were Dennis Eckersley (7.3), Luis Tiant (5.6) and Bob Stanley (4.1)......oh and that Mike Torrez (3.4) guy.
- 2000 (25.4): It speaks volumes that this is the only team to make this list that includes Pedro Martinez. This squad only managed 85 wins despite the fact that Pedro put up arguably the greatest single-season pitching performances of all-time. Pedro accounted for 11.7 of the team's 25.4 pWAR....damn near close to 50%. Derek Lowe's (3.5) was the only other mark over 3.....the 3rd highest? Tomo Ohka's 2.3.
Bottom 5 Seasons by pWAR
- 2012 (3.6): So the entire pitching staff of 2012 managed to put up a WAR that would serve to equal about 1/3 of a typical Pedro Martinez season. Pitiful doesn't even begin to describe it. Of course it is all Bobby Valentine's fault. The two leading WAR producers were bullpen arms: Scott Atchison (1.8) and Junichi Tazawa (1.8). If Scott Atchison is leading you team in anything at the end of a year....it was most likely a bad one. Three pitchers (Dice-K, Aaron Cook and Alfredo Aceves) accounted for a total of -3.6 WAR.
- 1997 (7.0): While 2012 was indeed a bad pitching year, at least it had some names that were expected to be good. This 1997 ensemble is one for the record books in terms of "WTF?" Let me list some: Borland, Brandeburg, Checo, Corsi, Eshelmen, Grundt, Henry, Lacy, Mahomes, Trlicek, Wasdin.....all of those guys toed the rubber at Fenway in 1997. The Sox had no arms in the minors worth anything thanks to Dan Duquette's "screw-the-draft" philosophy and the Sox were taking anyone that they could get their hands on that could throw a baseball. Tom "Flash" Gordon led the way with 3.7 pWAR...which was more than 50% of the team total and Tim Wakefield came up with 1.9.
- 1975 (9.4): This team won 95 games and went on to the World Series.....let me restated that - this team won 95 games and went on to the World Series despite the fact the pitching staff put up less than 10 pWAR...absolutely astonishing. What's even more odd about this staff is they used only 12 pitchers ALL SEASON. Three guys pitched over 250 innings (Lee, Tiant and Wise). Tiant (2.6) and Lee (2.4) led the way with super-middle guy Roger Moret (2.2) helping out. Oh and this is the team with Dick Pole....imagine.
- 1980 (12.1): Meh....Closer Tom Burgmeier led the way with 4.1 pWAR while Bob Stanley put up 2.9. The best actual starter was John Tudor with 2.3. It was a meh year (83 wins).
- 1995 (12.2): Well Tim Wakefield (5.0) was good, then..... Erik Hanson (2.9) and then......Roger Clemens (1.9) and Stan Belinda (1.9)......and then Mike Maddux (1.2) and Rick Aguilera (1.1) and then.....junk.
Making the Least with the Most
1992 (27.2 pWAR, 73 Wins): As mentioned this was all on the offense which was replacement level. It it weren't for the outstanding pitching 1992 would probably go down as the worst in Red Sox history
Making the Most with the Least
1975 (9.4 pWAR, 95 Wins): We'll all remember 1975 as the World Series run the dramatic 7 game set with the Reds and Fisk waving the ball fair......which the 1975 pitching staff is just fine with as it covers up a pretty awful season.
Next Up: 42 Years of Red Sox Baseball: Fast Facts