Now that baseball is back, its time to update that wardrobe. While there are plenty of good options out there, nothing is quite as classic as the player shirt or shirsey. If you have unlimited funds, then go get every single one. But assuming you are like me and do not, a hierarchy needs to be made to determine in what order you slowly add to your collection. I wish I had had such a resource in 2006 when I went for a Mark Loretta instead of a Mike Lowell.
Before we get to the rankings, here’s a refresher on the loose parameters of the rankings. The most important factors are on-field success and overall fan favoritism. But age and how many years a player is under contract are important as well. You don’t want to invest in a shirt that will be obsolete before the year is over. Of course those last two can all go out the window if the a player gets exceedingly high marks in the first two. For this exercise we will also be using only players on the Opening Day roster (with a few DL exceptions).
28. Marcus Walden
Welcome to the show, Mr. Walden. Here’s an introduction to one of the last additions to the MLB roster. Until the 29-year-old pitcher has a few MLB games under his belt, its a tough sell to put him any higher.
27. Bobby Poyner
Poyner is also on an MLB roster for the first time, but he at least has some prospect pedigree after being named the Portland Sea Dogs Pitcher of the Year in 2017.
26. Heath Hembree
Hembree is entering his fifth season in Boston, which is much longer than I realized. However, he’s been at best a league-average reliever and there are a number of right-handed relievers with a better shot at making an impact.
25. Sandy Leon
We had some fun with Leon in 2016 but he regressed heavily in 2017. He is clearly the backup catcher now and despite being only 29-years-old, his ceiling really can’t get much higher than that. That is unless he starts slashing .310/.369/.476 again.
24. Brock Holt
Fresh off an injury-riddled 2017 season, the one-time All-Star has the fan favorite thing going for him, but there is too much top shelf talent on this team for a utility infielder to rise too high, especially if he regresses heavily.
23. Hector Velazquez
One of the options to be the No. 5 starter until the rotation is fully healthy, the 29-year-old was pretty solid in his first MLB action last season, with an ERA+ of 158 in 24 2⁄3 innings.
22. Brian Johnson
In a similar role as Velazquez except he has more of that former top prospect shine. If he finally comes into his own this season, he’ll rise higher. If not, he’ll be stuck down here.
21. Mitch Moreland
Remember when it looked like Moreland’s two-year $13 million contract might be the biggest splash the Red Sox made in the offseason? Good times.
20. Blake Swihart
Spring training statistics don’t matter, except in the case of Blake Swihart who is the second coming of Mike Piazza.
19. Joe Kelly
Kelly currently has an ERA of 108.00 after a putrid effort on Opening Day. But his FIP is at 23.92. That has to be some kind of record for ERA/FIP discrepancy. I mean, even Chris Archer can’t touch that.
But Kelly is going to get plenty of chances to bounce back and he also has a promising comedy career.
18. Matt Barnes
Barnes has had a better start to the 2018 season and will be a primary setup man all season. Until he has one of those outings where he walks everyone.
17. Carson Smith
Smith also struggled on Opening Day, but he looked very good in a small sample size at the end of 2017. He is a key to the bullpen finding success. How well he does in that role will dictate where he falls on this list and, more importantly, how good the Red Sox are at holding leads.
16. Eduardo Rodriguez
We keep waiting for Rodriguez to put it all together. He did for long stretches last season but injury problems keep getting in the way. He is starting the year on the DL, but if he comes back and becomes the No. 3 pitcher the Sox are hoping for, you’ll have made a smart investment.
15. Hanley Ramirez
Which Hanley will the Red Sox get this year? The 2016 version? That would be awesome. The 2017 version? Less awesome, but Hanley is still a whole lot of fun. If you disagree well, you are wrong.
14. Eduardo Nunez
Forget J.D. Martinez, here’s the Red Sox slugger, as he hit the first home run of the season for the cause ... albeit of the misplayed-bloop-single-that-turned-into-an-inside-the-park-homer persuasion.
First homer of 2018, just the way you drew it up. pic.twitter.com/8QawD06uwe— Red Sox (@RedSox) March 29, 2018
13. Drew Pomeranz
The lefty is starting the year on the DL, but when he comes back he is the team’s third-best starter. He went 17-6 with a 3.32 ERA and 137 ERA+ last season and is going to be back soon.
12. Rick Porcello
Porcello went from leading the league in wins to leading it in losses. But he’s in an even year now, which is when he has found success. That coincidence aside, if he can avoid giving up homers every time he pitches, he’ll give Pomeranz a run for that third-best starter title. Plus that Cy Young potential gives him the edge right now.
11. Dustin Pedroia
He’s the Laser Show. Even if he won’t be back from the DL for a bit, your collection is meaningless without a Pedroia.
10. Christian Vazquez
He just signed a three-year extension and is another solid year at the plate away from being the full-time starter at catcher rather than a being in the mix with Leon and Swihart.
9. Craig Kimbrel
8. Andrew Benintendi
A young player with gobs of potential who has already been a very good MLB contributor? Yeah. That’s a shirt you want.
7. Jackie Bradley Jr.
You might be wondering, “Why is JBJ above Benintendi?” The answer is his defense. While Benintendi has the superior offensive numbers, the fact that JBJ can rob home runs and layout and catch anything makes him just as, if not more, exciting.
6. J.D. Martinez
Two games into his Red Sox career, Martinez has ZERO home runs. What a bust. (This is called a reverse jinx. I believe heavily in Just Dingers Martinez).
5. Xander Bogaerts
He’s off to a hot start to the 2018 season and even if he slowed down the stretch in 2017, he’s the best shortstop the Red Sox have had since Nomar.
4. Rafael Devers
Third baseman of the present future. Devers projects to be a big part of the Red Sox lineup for a long time.
3. David Price
I believe in David Price. His line from last night? Seven innings, zero runs, four hits, five Ks, 76 pitches. Oh yes. The revenge tour is here.
2. Mookie Betts
He’s the best position player on the roster by a long shot. If the Sox don’t sign him to a lengthy extension soon, then Dave Dombrowski should be fired.
1. Chris Sale
Don’t you want to own his shirt before he wins his first Cy Young?