I asked a very simple question this weekend: “Who is on your all-time Red Sox roster?”
I was not disappointed by the responses.
The Greatest Lineup Ever - gpasty
First, I want everyone to give gpasty a great big OTM welcome, because he registered just to take part in this exercise with us.
His lineup is solid, and I doubt you’ll see many complaints. Any lineup that features Wade Boggs, Mookie Betts, Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, David Ortiz, Nomar Garciaparra, Tris Speaker, Carlton Fisk, and Dustin Pedroia is a strong one. It encapsulates every era of Red Sox, to boot. From Speaker who played for the Sox from 1907-1915, to current players Mookie Betts and Dustin Pedroia, there are few times of Red Sox baseball not referenced in the lineup alone, which speaks to the great history of the team. We’re not covered during much of the 1920’s and 30’s, but there’s a pretty good reason for that: We sold our prime player to the Yankees to fund a musical.
The thing I like most about this roster of 25 is the presence of several pitchers from the modern era. Counting stats are nice (we see you, Cy Young, with your 511 wins), but the stark reality is that the pitchers today throw harder and are generally more difficult to hit. It’s fine to reference history, but for the most part we should probably be looking more at today’s pitchers than those who pitched in the early days of the Major Leagues.
With that, my only complaints on this roster may be Dutch Leonard and Smoky Joe Wood. Wood got wins, but pitcher wins as a statistic are pretty weak for me, and having never watched him live I have no idea how good he actually was. Was he a product of the era? Could he have survived even 25 years later with the stuff he had? I’m not sure. And I think our history is rich enough that we can pass on Wood (and Leonard for many of the same reasons).
All told, a great lineup, and a good bench. Love the Jason Varitek shoutout as well.
A Modern All-Time Roster - SoxFanInDC
I like what SoxFanInDC did with their roster, and when I do my own at the end I’ll be doing a similar thing, though not to the same extent (my lifetime, after all, is only 25 years, so there’d be way too much overlap).
As for SoxFanInDC’s roster, a couple of names stuck out to me as ones worth remembering that we may be forgetting: Mike Lowell, Jonathan Papelbon, and Hideki Okajima. All three players played on the 2007 Red Sox, and while heralded at the time, it always surprises me to look back and see just how good these three players were at their peaks.
First, Lowell. We picked him up at the tail-end of his career as something of a throw-in to the Josh Beckett trade. He ended up a key factor in the 2007 season and World Series (of which he was the MVP). In the 14 postseason games he played that year, he hit .353/.410/.608, providing a huge spark in winning a World Series that is oft-forgotten (and with reason, 2004 was the “curse-breaker” and 2013 was a magical year that the entire team rallied around. The 2007 team was merely really good at baseball).
But Jonathan Papelbon and Hideki Okajima played just as important roles that season. Papelbon’s second full-season as closer was arguably his best one, as he’s never since logged a K/9 of 13.0. Along with the lowest H/9 of his career, he had just about everything working. He was a little unfortunate with sequencing at times, and I’d argue his rookie season was better, but this is not a definitive statement. Okajima’s numbers declined at the end, obviously, but I implore you to just look at those numbers and try to remember him as he was his first 2 1⁄2 seasons.
All-Time WAR Roster - yuj
This roster is pretty similar to gpasty’s at the top, with a few changes. It’s not too hard to see the general theme here: great players will stay great, even in today’s competition. Following the premise that past players “can” be as good as today’s players, something that is entirely within the realm of possibility, we receive a roster littered with talents from the early 20th century, the middle of the 20th century, the end of it, and the beginning of the 21st.
To put it simply, everyone is here.
There are 3 players from before 1933 (in terms of best season), 5 from 1933-1967, 5 from 1968-1999, and 12 from 2000-present. In general, the closer you are to the present day, the more likely you are to have your warts ignored, and be accepted as a great for the purposes of the exercise.
There isn’t really a name that jumps out at me to discuss, since it’s mainly a WAR leaderboard. Part of me wonders how close Dwight Evans was to making it though, as his omission is one that surprised me.
A Great Sox Lineup - wallytoo
Another first timer to FanPost Friday, wallytoo submitted a list of great names, in line with yuj’s concept above, with their own twist. For one, Dwight Evans makes this roster, and Ted Williams... doesn’t?
In many eyes, Ted Williams is the greatest player in Red Sox history. This would be true for me as well. At the very least, I believe him to be the best outfielder in Red Sox history.
I’m not sure as to wallytoo’s reasonings for leaving Williams off, but I’m not going to leave off a player who rattled off these video game numbers. Had the war not claimed three years of his career, it’s possible he’d be in the 600 HR club, have over 3,000 hits, and surpassed 2,000 RBIs. While I’m not usually a fan of counting stats, he performed his feats in 2292 games.
For reference, it took Barry Bonds 2182 games to hit 522 (Williams hit 521) career home runs. Had Williams played those three years, and had a little bit better health luck (which may possibly be attributed to the war), he may be the home run king today, instead of Bonds.
Full disclosure, my roster isn’t going to be based on who has the most WAR, or even who I think the best players in history are. My roster is going to be based on a combination of an entertaining group, that is fun to watch, and of very good ball players. The reason I watch baseball is to have fun. I’ve had fun during seasons where we won it all, but also in seasons where we were... less than great. This is my All-Time Fun Roster. Enjoy.
C - Carlton Fisk
1B - Adrian Gonzalez
2B - Dustin Pedroia
3B - Wade Boggs
SS - Nomar Garciaparra
LF - Ted Williams
CF - Mookie Betts
RF - Manny Ramirez
DH - David Ortiz
SP - Pedro Martinez, Roger Clemens, Luis Tiant, Chris Sale, Curt Schilling
RP - Dennis Eckersley (swingman), Koji Uehara, Craig Kimbrel, Hideki Okajima, Matt Barnes, Lee Smith, Jonathan Papelbon (closer)
Bench - Jason Varitek (C), Kevin Youkilis (1B/3B), Xander Bogaerts (SS/2B), J.D. Martinez (OF/DH)
My last cut was Dwight Evans. It was between him, J.D., and Manny Ramirez for two spots, and I decided I needed Manny for this to truly be “all-fun”, and J.D.’s bat is too fun to not include. Apologies to Evans, I just never saw him play.