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OTM Roundtable: Favorite Non-All Stars of the Decade

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Taking out the stars, who was your favorite?

Chicago White Sox v Boston Red Sox
I don’t know why this picture is black and white, but I dig it
Photo by Rob Tringali/SportsChrome/Getty Images

Starting today, we are going to try and have a roundtable topic every Friday for the entire staff to answer. It’s not a real roundtable because there are no rebuttals, but I am going to call it a roundtable anyway because, what? Are you going to have me arrested? I very much doubt it! Anyway, I’m looking forward to it and think it will be fun. The first question we’re all answering: Who was your favorite non-All Star from the Red Sox in the last decade? I should note that I had not considered the idea of a player making the All-Star Game with another team, so I said that was fine. Again, are you going to have me arrested? I’d like to see you try! Also note that repeats are allowed. Anyway, here are the answers.

Michelle Berthiaume: Jonny Gomes

I’m a real sucker for moments — that big play or hit or win that means so much more than what you’ll see in the box score. Like that Dee Gordon home run the day after Jose Fernandez passed away. Or Stephen Piscotty’s home run in his first game back after his mother lost her fight with ALS. Or when the Angels threw a combined no-hitter in their first home game after losing teammate Tyler Skaggs. Like most normal, sports-loving humans, that stuff just gets me. So when thinking about my favorite non-All-Star from the last 10 years, Jonny Gomes was the first one to come to mind.

He spent less than two years in Boston, but his role on the 2013 championship team made him an unforgettable piece of that run, which honored the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing. Gomes was involved in the “Boston 617 Strong” jersey that traveled with the team after the bombing. The image of Gomes placing that jersey and the World Series trophy at the marathon finish line on parade day was one of the most memorable of the last decade for me. I’m not even going to mention his numbers while he was in Boston because his time here was about so much more than that.

Jake Kostik: Rafael Devers

My pick for my favorite non All-Star of the decade is a player who really should have represented the American League last year: Rafael Devers. It was very hard to choose someone who wasn’t such an obvious choice, because I liked a lot of the players to have played for the Red Sox over the past decade. The only problem is, so many of them were All-Stars. Whoops! No Mookie, no Xander, no J.D. Martinez, no Ellsbury, Gonzo, or Sale or Koji or David Price (I’m operating under the assumption that anyone to ever make an ASG is ineligible). (Ed. note: Wrong-o!)

So when it comes to who is left, it’s hard to see anyone but Devers, a player who has yet to get his due, but no doubt will. My second choice would have been Andrew Benintendi, but he’s just in a totally different class of player, and that’s no shame or knock on Benintendi.

Mike Carlucci: Daniel Nava

The day was May 8th, 2005. It was raining. After five innings, Wade Miller, who was somehow back from rehab already (he was the secret weapon!), came out of the game in favor of John Halama. Two outs into the seventh inning it was time for him to go as well. The weather was wicked: wind and moisture. Terry Francona called upon Cla Meredith to make his major league debut with two outs and one on. He’d eventually give up a grand slam to Richie Sexson.

Which brings us to Daniel Nava, who arrived on the other end of a grand slam in his MLB debut. The story of Nava is one of the best in baseball: scouted out of the independent leagues, Nava was a long shot to even sniff the majors, but the Sox saw something. When he was called up to hit with the bases loaded I thought back to Meredith. I thought about a kid having to watch success slip away. I thought about the pressure of making your debut with runners on every base and the chance to be remembered as an unlikely hero. He may never have been on an All-Star team but you can’t forget Daniel Nava.

Michael Walsh: Jarrod Saltalamacchia

Jarrod Saltalamacchia, former Red Sox catcher and World Series champion, easily takes the cake for my favorite non-All-Star of the past decade. When Salty came onto the scene with the Sox way back in 2010, I was just 12 years old, and first took a liking to him because I found his last name amusing. However, he proved to be more than just a funny last name, posting fWAR’s of 2.7, 2.9, and 3.1 in each of his three full years with the Red Sox. His long hair and beard fit in perfectly with the 2013 Red Sox’ ‘playoff beard’ superstition. My favorite Salty moment is frequently overshadowed by David Ortiz’ grand slam heroics in Game 2 of the 2013 ALCS. Sox fans can’t forget that it was Saltalamacchia who sealed the game with a walk-off single, knocking in Jonny Gomes.

Phil Neuffer: Hanley Ramírez

This may be cheating a bit since he made All-Star teams elsewhere, but my pick is Hanley Ramirez. He wasn’t with the Red Sox for all of the 2010s but it was a fun ride for the four years in the decade in which he was. That’s really what it comes down to for me. I like baseball because it is fun. Ramirez was a fun player to watch and it always looked like he was having fun on the field. It didn’t hurt that he had one of the best swings on the team and hit more than a few mammoth home runs, especially during the 2016 season.

Brady Childs: Allen Webster

The first time I saw Allen Webster, I was in love. He entered my life as just a name. A name from the famous Nick Punto trade that once broke my 18-year-old heart. The name was familiar, but that’s all he was. At the time of Allen Webster’s debut in April of 2013, I was just beginning my foray into the world of prospects. Around this time, I was probably 60 episodes deep into my quest to become a .9er and thought I knew everything. I was so sure of myself that Webster was going to become a star. He was pumping absolute gas and that he had no idea where he was going only made the whole package more attractive. The secondaries were pleasing and I wanted to scream my love from the rooftops (which I did do on twitter!) Sadly, I didn’t see the blatant red flags and Webster never established himself as a major league. Surprisingly enough, he pitched 12 games last year for the Chicago Cubs. He’s a free agent, and while the knockout fastball is long gone, 18-year-old me would like to see him get another chance.

Bryan Joiner: Jarrod Saltalamacchia

The first thing you gotta know is that it’s pretty hard to find a half-decent Red Sox player who wasn’t an All Star! I thought this whole thing would be easy but no, turns out many of my favorite minor players have made the Midsummer Classic roster once or twice. Boo these men! Do not boo Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who is my choice for the reasons I’m sure he is that of others: he’s good looking, has great hair, a great name, a better nickname and played for a title team. That’s a Yahtzee, baby! Did you know his nickname was Pits, because his name stretched from one armpit to the other? Fantastic! Did you know he was on the most charming title team the Red Sox have had this century? Yes, you did! Did you know he had an .804 OPS in 2013, which is pretty good for most players, let alone a catcher? I sure didn’t until I checked! Did you know he was still playing as of 2018, logging a whopping eight at-bats for the Tigers? Who cares?! Salty may have been a journeyman, but he is very much ours forever and, in this particular exercise, mine. And also someone else’s I’ve been told. We’ll share. There’s plenty of the alphabet to go around.

Matt Collins: Andrew Miller

I, like Phil, am going to cheat here a little bit because Miller made a couple of All-Star teams in the second half of this decade. I also did a ranking of my favorite players from this past decade and Miller was third among non-Red Sox All-Stars on that list, but part of the benefit of being the one to put this together is that I get to see who everyone else picks. So, I can be different. Anyway, Miller was one of the few bright spots from that truly horrific 2012 season, which also happened to be a time when I was first getting started as a writer. Partially out of sincerity and partially as a way to separate myself from a crowded field of Red Sox writers, I made relievers my beat. And it doesn’t get better than Miller. The lankiness, the hair, the arm action, the breaking ball. It was all perfect, and I miss it a whole lot.

Jake Devereaux: Junichi Tazawa

Junichi Tazawa, I miss this guy. Was he special in the way that Craig Kimbrel and Koji Uehara were? Absolutely not. But when it came to my blood pressure at the end of games he was better than any medication. (Ed. note: Please take your medicine, Jake.) From 2012-2016 Tazawa threw 234 IP with a 3.00 ERA and a 19.7 K-BB rate—essentially he was a well above average reliever. He rarely walked guys at all and he executed the stuff that he had.

Every Red Sox legend also has a special moment that you tend to remember them by and Taz had his in Game 3 of the 2013 ALCS. This game was not supposed to be about the relievers, in fact John Lackey and Justin Verlander were dealing. Verlander had thrown 4 23 innings of hitless ball on his way to 8 innings pitched with 10 strikeouts over 120 pitches, the only run he had given up was to a Mike Napoli solo shot in the 7th inning with one out. Lackey had somehow managed to outduel him throwing 6 23 innings while striking out eight, walking none, and leaving the game with no runs allowed.

Tazawa came into the game in the 8th after Craig Breslow walked Austin Jackson and quickly Torri Hunter singled to right leaving runners at the corners. Miguel Cabrera was now at the plate with just one out. Miggy was the greatest hitter on the planet and I was petrified. Taz kept his calm and somehow had the guts to throw him four straight fastballs one of which he ultimately chased out of the zone to go down on swinging. Koji Uehara then came in for the four out save to close out the pivotal 1-0 game three win. Long live Taz.