So, full disclosure. My original thought when I saw the topic for Fanpost Friday would be to write about Jason Varitek, my favorite Red Sox position player who is, indeed, very overrated. But since OOLF wants to write about him, I shall not deny him that pleasure. There are others just as deserving.
Such as the fellow who announced his retirement five years ago today, Tim Wakefield.
I know a lot of people remember the debacle that was his quest for his 200th win in 2011, but a lot of people don't remember just what Wake brought to the table. And most people outside of Boston? Well, ht's just a footnote in Red Sox history to them.
But he was terribly valuable for a long time. I'm not going to sit here and try to convince you he was great. He wasn't great. But he was good. And he was valuable.
So with that, let's look at why I think he's underrated. Let's start with the stats. In 17 seasons with Boston, he had a record of 186-168 with a 125 ERA+ making him an above average pitcher in his time with Boston. He had a 6.1 K/9 vs a 3.3 BB/9 Considering his primary pitch, those are respectable career ratio numbers.
Oh. And he had 22 saves.
Wake's value, though, didn't come from his stats. It came from his willingness to do whatever was necessary for the team. This is a man who started, threw in middle relief, long relief, and closed. Oh, and then there was that contract that he took after the 2005 season that was a rolling $4M option. Players just don't take contracts like that. He could have easily gotten more elsewhere, but he showed loyalty to the Sox and took a contract that benefitted the Sox by freeing up money for other players.
Wake was also one of The 25 who won in 2004. And then he picked up a second ring in 2007.
Wake was never the most important player on the Red Sox, But he was always there to do what he needed to do.
I'm going to close with the Facebook post that I wrote when I heard about his retirement which, quite fortuitously, showed up in my memories feed today.
"Dear Tim Wakefield,
Today, you announced your retirement from the Boston Red Sox and Major League Baseball. It is a sad thing to hear as you have been one of my favorite members of the Boston Red Sox for years.
What you brought to the table was an unselfish grit and determination that is just not seen in professional sports very often. You did not have a set role for years and yet you went and did whatever the Red Sox asked of you without complaint. You went out and did what was best for your team.
For 17 years, you went out year after year and played the game the way it should have been played by everyone. ANd that's not to mention what you've done off the field. The charity work you have done on behalf of the Jimmy Fund and other charities is a marked contrast to the abject greed that many players in this day and age exhibit.
You are a class act both on and off the field. You have been an integral part of two different World Series championships for my beloved Red Sox, and for that will always have a special place in all of our hearts.
So, thank you, Tim. Thank you for 17 years of excitement and fun. May you and your family have the very best going forward!
Lifelong Red Sox Fan"
I say it again, thanks for everything, Wake!