On Thursday, the Red Sox organization announced the latest class for their Hall of Fame, inducting a group of four players and one team employee. It’s an interesting mix of players, with three very recent guys along with an early 20th century player. Getting inducted in May will be: Derek Lowe, Mike Lowell, Kevin Youkilis, John Freeman and Alphonso Green.
Lowe, of course, was one of the key pitchers for the Red Sox in the late-90s and early-aughts and ended up as a key figure in the team’s run towards its 2004 championship. He was acquired from the Mariners along with Jason Varitek back in the summer of 1997 in exchange for Heath Slocumb. Lowe was a fascinating pitcher to follow, as he relied heavily on a sinker and inducing ground balls and did so as both a starter and a reliever. In 2000, he made his first All-Star Game and ended up leading the league with 42 saves. Then, in 2002, he converted to the rotation, made another All-Star Game and finished third in the Cy Young voting. It’s 2004 he’ll always be remembered for, though, and despite it not being his best season he would step it up in the postseason and grab the victory in all three series-clinching games that fall.
Youkilis is, simply put, one of the better and more underrated hitters in recent Red Sox history. A former eighth round pick, the corner infielder didn’t have a long career, but he was incredibly effective when he played. Over nine years with the Red Sox, he posted a 126 OPS+. He helped the team to a championship in 2007, but his best years were 2008-2010. Youkilis posted a 148 OPS+ in that stretch, making him the sixth-best hitter in all of baseball during that three-year period.
Finally, we have Lowell, who was another member of that 2007 championship team. The third baseman actually spent more time in Florida (now Miami, of course) than in Boston, but that 2007 season will always make him part of the fabric of Boston. He originally came over to Boston in that big Josh Beckett trade and wasn’t looked at as much of an addition at the time. After an average 2006, though, he had one of his best seasons ever in 2007 and was a key cog in that championship lineup. He’d finish the year with a 124 OPS+ and a fifth-place finish in the MVP voting.
John Frank “Buck” Freeman is the team’s pre-1960’s inductee this year. He ended his career in Boston, spending 1901-1907 with the Americans (the team’s name before the Red Sox). Previously, he had played for the Washington Senators. Freeman was an early 20th century run producer, leading the league in RBI twice over his Americans career. He also led the league in home runs once in his Boston tenure, becoming the first player in history to lead both the American League and National League in homers over his career.
Green is the team employee who was inducted and is a longtime member of the fan services department. Along with these inductees, they will be honoring the first game for Pumpsie Green, the team’s first African-American player. The Red Sox, of course, were the last team in baseball to integrate.