First off, I want to thank everyone who took the time to vote. A shockingly high number of you took the time to vote for ten guys, which gave me ample opportunity to Remember Some Guys. The 2010s was my first full decade as a baseball fan and I relish any chance I get to recall my fond memories of Nick Green. And for that reason, this generation of players will always hold a special place in my heart. I can imagine myself on a park bench 40 years from now telling some snot-nosed kid that the best fireman pitching in 2060 couldn’t wash Brandon Workman’s jock. I know it won’t be true, but I’ll be 60 years old by then and I’m definitely taking advantage of the eternal “respect your elders” maxim. I’ll be damned if some little weasel is going to disrespect my wisdom.
Let’s explore some of the guys that didn’t make the cut. I should note that I tabulated these votes on a sliding scale with ten points for a first-place vote and one point for a tenth-place vote.
Received No Votes
Drew had a short, but memorable run as a Red Sox. 2013 was the tail-end of the shortstop carousel with Xander Bogaerts quickly rising up the pipeline, but he had only played 23 games above High-A. A stopgap solution was needed. The slipper fit and Drew initially came to Boston on a 1 year/$9.5 million contract, looking to rebuild his value. Stephen had just missed his brother, J.D., who retired after 2011. For as good of a player as J.D. was, the Drew name carried a certain reputation among Boston fans. He not only bucked the undeserved reputation his name carried off his back but had one of the best post-Nomar seasons from a Red Sox shortstop coming off major ankle surgery that had sidelined him for 11 months between July of 2011 and June of 2012. Drew’s postseason was putrid (.111/.140/.204 and starting every game), but he did hit a memorable home run off of Michael Wacha in game six of the World Series. Something about the Drews and Game 6s…
The remainder of Drew’s Red Sox run isn’t as fun to remember. You may recall that Stephen Drew was a part of the second wave of free agents to combat the qualifying offer and were its first real victims. Drew, along with Kendrys Morales, rejected 1 year, $14.1 million deals to test free agency and found themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place. No team felt like giving up a draft pick at any point in the process to sign them. Drew re-signed with the Red Sox on May 21 for 1 year/$10.1 million, kicking off the ill-fated Xander Bogaerts: Third Baseman experiment. He would play 39 games, hitting .176/.255/.328 before being traded to the Yankees for Kelly Johnson. Drew did not get a Cinderella ending in Boston, but I was surprised he didn’t get a back-end, novelty vote because he was a bright spot on the 2013 World Series squad.
Céspedes’ run in Boston was even shorter than Drew’s, but his acquisition alone was so cool that I’m shocked no one voted for him! I remember calling up my friend, when the news of the trade broke and I was FILLED with joy. I was literally jumping up and down in my dorm room at Louisiana Tech because we had just acquired “La Potencia”. However, Céspedes didn’t hang around long enough to justify my excitement. He was shipped off that offseason to Detroit for Rick Porcello. The surface-level numbers don’t look good, but Baseball Prospectus did grade him out as an above-average hitter during his time in Boston with a 115 DRC+. The Porcello trade worked out, so it was the right move, but 2015 would’ve been more bearable with Cespedes in the outfield.
Down Ballot Vote Getters
Daniel Nava was the first Boston folk hero of the 2010s. Nava persevered for years, not only in the minors but in junior college and independent ball for a break. Nava served as an equipment manager, on the outside looking in, for the Santa Clara Broncos for two seasons before transferring after not being able to afford tuition. Nava enrolled at the College of San Mateo thirty minutes down the road and walked onto the baseball team at the encouragement of an old friend. Nava would hit well enough over two years at JuCo to return to Santa Clara with a scholarship, where he hit .395/.494/.530 as a 23-year-old senior.
He would then go undrafted and be rejected by the Chico Outlaws of the now-defunct Golden Baseball League before getting another opportunity with them a year later before being picked up by the Boston Red Sox only after being recommended by then assistant director of pro scouting, Jared Porter, after Baseball America named Nava their top independent league prospect. He raked in the minors for three years, always old for the level, and persisted until he got a chance filling in for Jeremy Hermida. Of course, we all remember the first-pitch grand slam off Joe Blanton, but did you remember that he was designated for assignment the following May for Drew Sutton? He snuck through waivers, sat in AAA for a year, returned to the lineup on May 10th of 2012, and stayed with the team through 2014. Nava was a part of a mishmash of outfielders who primarily played left field on the 2013 World Series team along with Jonny Gomes and Mike Carp. I’d reckon that Nava’s go-ahead home run versus the Royals on the first home game back since the Boston Marathon bombing lingers more towards the front of Red Sox fans’ minds than his debut grand slam.
Nava lasted with the organization until July 30th, 2015, when he was DFA’d again and claimed by the Rays. He played his final Major League season with the Phillies, hitting over .300 in part-time play. He’s still hanging around in independent ball at 36 years old and played and played a bit of winter ball in the Mexican Pacific Winter League, although he is no longer listed on Algodoneros de Guasave’s roster.
The man has loved baseball his entire life and was rewarded for his hard work. Setting aside the other things that made him affable, like his school-boy crush on Erin Andrews, he’s a remarkably likable ballplayer, something we shouldn’t ever take for granted.
Another outfielder from the 2013 World Series squad barely misses the cut. “Shanf” was another player on that team who caught lightning in a bottle for the last time, sucking up every ball that flew in his general area while turning back the clock with the stick, OPSing .801 during the regular season.
You’d be forgiven for not knowing that Victorino’s postseason wasn’t actually good. I didn’t know about it until just now! It’s a wonder what you can get away with when you hit one of the franchise’s defining home runs (and what was probably my favorite moment of the decade.) He was a joyous presence on a team filled with fun, lovable characters. A recurring right thigh strain and a bulging disc would keep him off the field for most of 2014, all but spelling the end of his career. I’m glad one of the game’s best representatives had his career-defining moment with my favorite team, securing a spot in my mind for the rest of my life.
Just missing the cut was the young upstart third baseman. I have to remind myself that he’s only 23 years old, making him the favorite to top a list like this at the end of this decade.
Devers stormed onto the scene at 20 years old in an era where virtually every other team would’ve held him down to manipulate his service time and made his mark on a playoff-contending team. His violent swing and incredible bat speed captured our imaginations. After a sophomore slump during the 2018 regular season, he raked when given the opportunity in the postseason, fighting off Eduardo Nunez and the false perception of his “steady defense”. A Devers home run off Justin Verlander, reminiscent of his famous home run off Aroldis Chapman, in Game 5 of the ALCS put the final nail in the coffin of an Astros team that were favorites to win the American League. He built upon that success this year, hitting over .300, knocking 32 bombs, cutting his strikeout rate by over 7 percentage points, and taking huge steps to improve his defense at the hot corner. I won’t say “the best is yet to come” because I refuse to put those kinds of expectations on a 23-year-old, but he was hitting .320 coming into September. With another year of knowledge under his belt, the sky’s the limit for this young man.
Tomorrow, I’ll unveil the back half of your favorite Red Sox’s of the decade.