As we get deeper into this lockout with the end still not within sight, as I have mentioned before I am trying to incorporate a little bit of team history into this dead period. To that end, I decided I wanted to put together an All-Star team of sorts, but only including players who never made it into the All-Star Game as a member of the Boston Red Sox. So, to be clear, players could make an All-Star Game as a member of another team, but I am only judging their careers based on how they performed with the Red Sox. Bonus points are added for players who spent big chunks of time with the team versus someone who had maybe a good year or two with Boston before moving on.
As far as some ground rules, for position players they had to have spent at least 60 percent of the time at the given position to qualify, while starters had to start 60 percent of games and relievers had to be in that role for 80 percent of their time. We also are not including anyone whose careers ended before 1933, the year of the first All-Star Game. Yes, Cy Young is technically the best Red Sox pitcher to never make an All-Star team, but that’s no fun.
I will also say that the quality of players making this team is actually a bit lower than I had thought. It’s likely just an issue of my own expectations and a lack of realization as to how many players do make at least one All-Star Game. With that in mind, I did not choose a DH, though I did choose two pitchers each for both the starter and reliever spots. Finally, I’ll give a shoutout to Baseball-Reference’s Stathead tool, which helped make this project run smoothly.
Let’s get to it.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, 2010-2013
I’ll start by happily reporting I can still spell Saltalamacchia on my first try without looking it up, so that’s a skill with which I will likely die. Salty, as he became affectionately known, was once among the very best prospects in baseball, and after never really reaching those projected heights he was picked up by Boston as part of a deadline deal in 2010. After only playing sparingly that season, he began to get more playing time the next few seasons, with his career in Boston culminating in his best season in the plate in 2013, which was also the year he helped bring another ring to Fenway. Saltalamacchia was a better hitter than your typical catcher, though his defense kept him from really being a top tier catcher during his career. Still, he put together a 12-year career, which is not something a lot of players can say.
Dick Gernert, 1952-1959
This is a case of longevity winning out, as sorted by WAR Mike Napoli actually had a slight edge here. But we’re going to give this one to Gernert, who spent most of the 50s with the Red Sox, not always playing everyday but always providing some right-handed pop in whatever role he played. The Red Sox liked Gernert to take advantage of the Monster, and he did reach the 20-homer mark twice for the team. He came just short of that mark his rookie year in ‘52, finishing that season with 19 homers, but got some MVP love that season as he finished 25th in that voting. Gernert’s biggest claim to fame is that he was part of the first interleague trade to go through without waivers when the Red Sox sent him to the Chicago Cubs prior to the 1960 season.
Jody Reed, 1987-1992
Reed didn’t always play second base for the Red Sox, getting some time at shortstop as well to start his career, but he’s one of the better players in this entire exercise. A doubles machine who had three consecutive seasons with at least 40 two-baggers, Reed finished third in Rookie of the Year voting in ‘88, and 18th in MVP voting in ‘90. He was eventually lost to the newly-formed Colorado Rockies in the expansion draft after the 1992 season, but never played there after quickly being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers. It was there he arguably had his biggest impact on Red Sox history. When Reed failed to re-sign with L.A., the Dodgers made a move to get infielder Delino DeShields, which cost them a guy named Pedro Martinez. If Reed stays in L.A., Martinez likely does as well and who knows what kind of world we’d be living in today.
Tim Naehring, 1990-1997
Naehring is a unique one in this exercise as he actually spent his entire career in Boston, though it was something of a short career. Originally drafted in 1988, the third baseman made his debut in 1990 but didn’t grab hold of an everyday role until the 1992 season. His performances in the 90s for the Red Sox were a bit all over the place, but there were a few very nice seasons in there, most notably the 1995 season in which he hit .307/.415/.448. In fact, he was above-average at the plate by OPS+ in each of his three final seasons but after a season-ending shoulder surgery in 1997 he decided to retire. He’s now helping the enemy as part of the New York Yankees’ front office.
Eddie Lake, 1943-1945
This was perhaps the most difficult position to find in this entire project as the Red Sox seemingly did not have a lot of in-between performers at shortstop. Lake was mostly a middling journeyman through his career, though he did have one particularly strong season with Boston in which he led the league with a .412 OBP in 1945, getting some down-ballot MVP love in the process.
Troy O’Leary, 1995-2001
O’Leary holds a special place in my fandom for the simple fact that my older brother was weirdly obsessed with the Red Sox left fielder when we were growing up. O’Leary wasn’t that great compared to what my brother saw him as, but he was a solid player for a long time who came through with some big swings in the 1999 playoff run. By 1996 he laid claim to the everyday left field role, a job he held for about four seasons before seeing his playing time wane.
Gary Geiger, 1959-1965
It’s actually a bit surprising Geiger didn’t make any All-Star games, because while his peak wasn’t super long he did have a few solid seasons. The bad news for him on that front is that his best season likely would have been the 1960 campaign in which he put up a 128 OPS+ over the first 77 games, but a collapsed lung ended his season prematurely. That was the first of four above-average seasons in which he played a nearly everyday role for the team. Geiger’s career in Boston was filled with weird medical issues like that, as well as an instance of crashing into the wall, colliding with a teammate, and a bleeding ulcer all in separate incidents.
Trot Nixon, 1996-2006
My brother had O’Leary, but for me Nixon was the player to root for on the Red Sox, which is certainly something I had in common with many similar-aged fans. One of the original Dirt Dogs, Nixon never quite made good on his promise as a top 10 draft pick but he had a long and solid career in right field for the Red Sox. He really deserved more recognition than he got particularly for his 2003 season in which he finished with a 149 OPS+, but perhaps he was just a few years ahead of his time. He’ll still show up at Fenway from time to time, and always to affectionate applause.
Eduardo Rodriguez, 2015-2021
Hey, I know that guy. Rodriguez’ career was unfortunately filled more often with frustration than praise, but he was a very solid starter for the Red Sox for much of his career, albeit never quite getting over the hump as a star-level pitcher. The peripherals still suggest that could be the case and he may just get there after signing with the Detroit Tigers, but he’s basically exactly the kind of player I had in mind when I started researching for this.
Oil Can Boyd, 1982-1989
Early in Boyd’s career, it would have been a shock to think he’d someday be on a list like this as his early-career performances with the Red Sox were quite good. His best season was in 1985 when he threw a whopping 272 innings with a 3.70 ERA, and he followed that up with another solid year in ‘86 in which he helped the Red Sox get to the World Series. He himself even got frustrated a couple of times over his career for not making an All-Star team. Ultimately, though, he’d be most known for one of the best nicknames in the history of baseball as well as some off-the-field issues with drugs and alcohol.
Mike Timlin, 2003-2008
Like Rodriguez, Timlin feels like the exact kind of player I had in mind for this project. He was already nearing the end of his career when he signed to play in Boston for his age-37 season, but he found new life at Fenway. He never quite got the shine he may have deserved in his better years in Boston as he was pitching behind great closers like Keith Foulke and Jonathan Papelbon, but Timlin was a highly effective set up man who helped bring two rings to Boston, including playing an especially prominent role in that 2004 run.
Sparky Lyle, 1967-1971
Lyle is actually more known for his time with the Yankees, when he not only made some All-Star games but also won a Cy Young. But before getting his career going in New York, Lyle began his career pitching in Boston’s bullpen and pitching quite well in the late innings for the Red Sox. He was traded shortly before the 1972 season to the Yankees in what would become one of the worst trades in Red Sox history. Lyle is one of the first big-name relievers in baseball history, and the rare reliever to get a Cy Young award.