Before we really jump into the results, a little bit of housekeeping. Some of the stats and thresholds definitely change from state to state; you'll see why below in a little bit. The one part of this series I want to clarify is that I'm going to split up hitters and pitchers. For the most part, they are two very different skill positions that require two very different thresholds to measure success, so it only makes sense to split the two positions up. With that, let's dive into the results for our very first region: New England.
Batter: Tony Conigliaro
Massachusetts—by far—had the most results of any New England state for batters and pitchers, so I had to create some sort of a threshold to weed out players who only made sporadic appearances for the Red Sox. That threshold ended up being a minimum of 100 games played, which to me makes sense in that 100 games could be considered the least amount of games played by a player, in my opinion, to have played a “full season,” injuries or other issues notwithstanding as to the other 62 (or 54 pre-1962).
That number definitely didn't matter for the winner for the state of Massachusetts, as Tony C kind of ran away with the metrics here. It's amazing to see what Conigliaro did in just the three years before his devastating eye injury in the impossible dream 1967 season.
For the Revere native, 1965 stands out beyond belief for not only becoming the youngest AL home run champion at the time but becoming the youngest player to hit 100 career home runs as well.
Even though he was never the same post-injury, his 122 OPS+ leads the pack of searchable players, with his brother Billy close behind him. Some other standouts from the pack include Mark Bellhorn, Harry Agganis, and Jerry Remy, but there’s nothing like what Tony C did in his healthy seasons as a Red Sox. I know we can all sit and lament what could have been.
Pitcher: Bill Monbouquette
This search also had enough results of sporadic players to merit a threshold of 30 games pitched, enough starts or relief appearances for me to merit at least one full season on the bump.
One name that kept catching my eye was Manny Delcarmen, but in the end, Monbouquette did more than enough to pass the reliever.
The Medford native posted a 96-91 career record in Boston from 1958-1965, striking out 969 batters—by far the most from a Massachusetts native. A 17-K outing was the Red Sox single-game record until Roger Clemens struck out an MLB-record 20 in 1986.
72 complete games and a no-hitter to boot in 1962, Monbo was twice an All-Star, won 20 games in 1963, and was elected into the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2000. He was certainly a star of the early 60’s squads that never finished over .500, managed by Pinky Higgins and Johnny Pesky.
The diminutive righty, unfortunately, passed away of cancer in 2015 but sparked a movement of donation towards the Dana-Farber Cancer Insititute after The Remains released “Monbo Time” as a tribute to the pitcher in 2010.
Batter: Rocco Baldelli
For every other state in New England, things get a little more complicated. Aside from Connecticut hitters, there were no more than 9 results for either batter or pitcher in any other New England state to pick from. So with no games played thresholds of any kind, we had to roll along.
The now-Minnesota Twins manager was an easy choice for best Red Sox batter from ‘lil Rhody. The Woonsocket native only commanded an OPS+ of 90 during his only season with the Red Sox—just 62 games played because of lingering health issues. But, with only four total choices to pick from, Baldelli rose to the top. He did grab his first MLB hit off a Red Sox we certainly might see later on in this series.
NESN did a great piece on Baldelli’s rise from Rhode Island to Fenway Park, probably way better than I can explain.
Pitcher: Ken Ryan
With only 9 choices total, the Pawtucket native Ken Ryan jumped out quickly for Red Sox pitchers. Ryan was an up-and-down righty during his tenure in Boston, most notably putting down 22 of 23 batters in 1993. Again in another “what could have been” scenario, Ryan was finally named closer in the middle of 1994 after recording 13 saves and a 2.44 ERA. Unfortunately, this was about 5 weeks before the players’ strike shut down the 1994 season for good. Otherwise, Ryan was streaky but always did the best he could, finishing his Red Sox career with 120 Ks and an ERA+ of 132. Ryan stuck around The Ocean State after his playing career was over, starting a youth baseball instructional facility in Lincoln.
Batter: Mo Vaughn
This was one of only a handful of choices that were no-brainers. Born in Norwalk but going to school in New Caanan, “The Hit Dog” became the absolute centerpiece of the ‘90s Red Sox, mashing homers, driving in RBIs, earning 3 total All-Star appearances and an MVP in 1995. Vaughn commanded a batting average of .304, an OPS+ of 140, crushing 230 HRs, driving in 742 RBIs, and drawing 519 walks during his 8 seasons in Beantown. There’s no one else from the Nutmeg State that comes even close to the measurements that Vaughn brought to the Red Sox.
Pitcher: Craig Breslow
For having only nine choices total for pictures from Connecticut, this was actually a little bit of a tough battle. Matt Barnes came close to being my pick here, but in the end, the New Haven native Breslow did more in his less time for me to reward him here.
Aside from some interesting tidbits about Breslow, like him being the 4th Jewish player to play for the Red Sox in 2006 and him forming the first Yale-only battery with Ryan Lavarnway since the 1800s, Breslow was very impressive, mainly in his second stint with the Red Sox.
After rejoining the Red Sox via trade in 2012, it was in 2013 when Breslow truly shined for Boston. During the regular season as the setup man, he was 5-2 with a 1.81, which ended up being the third lowest among left-handed relievers in the American League. His contributions during the playoffs, pitching in 10 of 16 games, help the Red Sox to a third World Series title in the new century. While an injury in 2014 altered his last two seasons in a Boston uniform, his 2013 performance stands out in a year that could have gone so differently, namely with injuries to Andrew Bailey and Joel Hanrahan allowing Koji Uehara to step into the closer’s role and toss one of the most dominant seasons in MLB history. The one-two punch of Breslow and Uehara was lights out.
That's not to diminish anything Matt Barnes did in his time in Boston, who was also a World Series champion and showed flashes of true dominance (see the first half of 2021). Still, there were more downs than ups to me for Barnes to slot him as my favorite over Breslow.
Batter: Phil Plantier
To kick off the Granite State is Manchester native Phil Plantier, who’s probably known for having one of the weirdest batting stances in the Majors, in an almost full squat in the box with his hands almost on his knees.
Despite the odd stance, Plantier played relatively well in his three seasons with the Red Sox, most notably in his 1992 Rookie campaign, batting .331 with a 1.034 OPS, 178 OPS+, 11 HR, and 35 RBI in just 53 games. The next season, he’d play in 108 games but regress, with an OPS+ of 90, only 7 HRs, and 30 RBIs. He’d be traded to San Diego the following season. He’s since made a name for himself in the coaching world, notably being the hitting coach for the Padres in the early 2010s, and is currently the assistant hitting coach for the LA Angels.
Pitcher: Rob Woodward
With only five pitchers to choose from and none having thrown more than 25 games with the Red Sox, I went with Woodward over Ray Dobens. Dobens played in 11 games as a trial in 1929, then never pitched again. He notched a 3.81 ERA, 4 Ks, and an ERA+ of 113. Woodward at least stood a little more of a test of time. In four seasons in Boston, his only in the majors, Woodward was up and down from Pawtucket—notably being demoted when Tom Seaver came to the Red Sox in his final season. While Woodward’s metrics aren’t as perfect, with an ERA+ of 87 with 45 Ks and a 5.04 ERA, the Lebanon native was a part of the 1986 ballclub that almost won it all and seemed like a consummate teammate.
Batter: Carlton Fisk
The only comment from last week’s introduction piece pretty much nailed their prediction on the head. Inarguably the best player in this entire group, with a career WAR of 68.4, an OPS+ of 126, 162 HRs, and a batting average of .284 in Boston, Fisk was the backstop of dreams. With seven All-Star appearances as a Red Sox, Gold Gloves, the first unanimous AL Rookie of the Year to his name, one of the most iconic moments in Red Sox history, and a Baseball Hall of Famer, Pudge fits right alongside some of the best players to don the Red Sox uniform. Even if he’ll hate that I have him included in Vermont since it’s technically where he was born in Bellows Falls despite being raised in New Hampshire.
He had nearly as many RBIs in Boston as he did strikeouts, bringing in 568 runs and whiffing 588 times. Add one more “what could have been” as he departed Boston for the South Side of Chicago only because the Red Sox failed to mail him a tendered contract by one day in December 1980, technically making Fisk a free agent.
Pitcher: Ray Collins
The only reason this was also a no-brainer is that between Collins and the other two Vermont-native pitchers, Collins is the only one to have pitched more than three games.
The Colchester native was a World Series Champion for the 1912 Sox squad and emerged into a true ace through 1914 and 1915. He won 39 games between 1913 and 1914, Collins was notably demoted to the bullpen in 1915 after the emergence of other young stars who filled out the Red Sox rotation, namely Babe Ruth.
Collins’ legacy doesn’t end with his baseball playing days. After he hung up his cleats, he became a dairy farmer back in The Green Mountain State and later was the co-founder of a Burlington milk cooperative creamery. That creamery later ended up becoming Hood.
Batter: Freddy Parent
Does Freddy Parent count because the Red Sox were known as the Americans until literally the season after he left Boston? In any case, his 386 RBI in seven seasons in Boston between 1901 and 1907 and versatility across the entire field help the Biddeford native top Red Sox hitters from Maine. Fun fact, the last time the Red Sox had a hitter from Maine on their roster was 1930!
Pitcher: Bob Stanley
I feel like I’m repeating myself that there were only three pitchers from Maine to ever play for the Red Sox and that Stanley—far and away—is the best choice. With an ERA+ of 118, 693 Ks in a Red Sox uniform, and a career WAR of 23.9, Stanley is without a doubt the best Sox pitcher to come out of The Pine Tree State. Going 115-97 in Boston, the Portland native was a big part of the 1986 squad, though he might be remembered as the pitcher that was on the bump for...well, let’s not think of bad memories and 1986 here. Stanley was a career Red Sox, making the All-Star game in 1979 as a starter and in 1983 as a reliever. He leads the Red Sox in all-time games played and wins as a reliever. He was also the all-time saves leader until Jonathan Papelbon in 2009.
Well, New England was certainly an interesting mix of Red Sox legends. It almost surprises me how many there are since cold winter weather states don’t tend to produce as many players as warmer states do. What do you think of the bunch? Any that stand out? Did I get anyone wrong? Let me know in the comments below! Next week we move down the I-95 Corridor and dive into the Mid-Atlantic.