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Where In The World Is The Best Red Sox Player: Midwest

Two trends stand out in this region!

Pitcher for Boston Red Sox Roger Clemens

If you missed the premise of this series, check out the intro piece here. TLDR: Who is the best Red Sox player to come out of each state/country?

Our trip to the South differed greatly from our first two regions. It saw results skew a lot more modern, granted, with some heat thrown in from Red Sox legends from further in the past. The Midwest gives us quite a trend of its own and covers the most ground of the United States so far:


Batter: Kevin Youkilis

Most games, hits, RBI, home runs, and of course walks, the Greek God of Walks, our very own Youuuuuuk most definitely deserves the honor of top Ohioan. The Cincinnati-native—while not a career Red Sox for complicated reasons—was a three-time All-Star, a Gold Glove winner and a World Series champion in 2007. Now behind the mic for NESN (and killing it, I might add), it’s only befitting to see Youk top this list.


Pitcher: Roger Clemens

The Rocket was undeniably the choice for Ohio’s pitcher. The Dayton native basically did everything in Boston except win a World Series. Three Cy Youngs, an MVP, over 2,500 strikeouts, an ERA+ of 144, the most strikeouts in a single game in MLB history, it’s just funny to be who he beats out is the literal namesake of the award he won most. Trust me: it was tight between Clemens and Young. I went with Clemens because he started his career as a Red Sox and developed into the insane talent he became with the club, Young was an 11-year veteran of the Big Leagues already, and while his time in Boston was also otherworldly, I still give Clemens an edge.



Batter: Chick Stahl

What a tragic story for Chick Stahl. The Avilla-native was a 1903 World Champion with the Red Sox, known as the Americans at that point, then was named player-manager in 1906—taking over for long-time friend Jimmy Collins. Suddenly, Stahl committed suicide by drinking carbolic acid while the team was in Spring Training in his home state of Indiana. Rumors abounded it was because he had taken over for Collins, but no one really knows why. Chick leads the Indiana batters group in runs scored, triples, home runs, stolen bases, and walks. He also comes second in hits, doubles and RBI.


1903 World Series Champions, the Boston Pilgrims

Pitcher: Dizzy Trout

Trout was frankly barely a Red Sox, making only 26 appearances in his penultimate MLB season technically (he tossed 0.1 innings in 1957 with the Orioles), but Trout’s career was that much better than other Indiana representatives to have chosen from this list. The runner-up, Ken Mercker, has that same issue, but Trout’s season in Boston was better, in my opinion. Mercker frankly only appeared in two games for the Red Sox in 1999, that speaks to how unremarkable the quality of choices for Indiana was. Still, Trout flitted between the bullpen and rotation due to injuries and ultimately retired after the season, citing the loss of his fastball.


Dizzy Trout
Dizzy Trout


Batter: Fred Lynn

Lynn, Lynn, the city of sin. The Chicago native has the most HRs, RBIs, second highest OPS+ (through one partial season of Cliff Floyd should be discounted), and was a stellar Red Sox. He won the MVP and Rookie of the Year in 1975, the batting title in 1979, and was a nine-time consecutive All-Star. He also won four Gold Gloves, all in Boston, and his spot in the Red Sox Hall of Fame and on this list are beyond well earned.


Pitcher: Bret Saberhagen

Another Chicago native, Saberhagen’s best years were behind him as he finished out his career in Boston between 1997 and 2001, but that’s not to say he was a slouch. With an ERA+ of 124 in Boston, his final 100 K season, the Royals legend worked through durability issues, leading to a 1998 win of the Tony Conigliaro Award from the Boston chapter of the BBWAA.


Boston Red Sox v Chicago White Sox Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images


Batter: Jason Varitek

If anyone exudes Red Sox baseball, it’s Jason Varitek. A three-time All-Star, a Silver Slugger winner, a two-time World Series champion, and obviously the captain, Varitek was a tremendous leader for a generation of Sox players and fans. What’s honestly funny about Varitek’s inclusion on this list is he was acquired in a trade from the Mariners with the Michigander who’ll represent pitchers below! Even still, Varitek carved out a legacy as a stellar catcher, becoming the first Red Sox backstop to catch more than 1,000 games. He’s known as a consummate professional on the field and is a very worthy player to be Michigan’s batting representative.


Pitcher: Derek Lowe

Now onto Lowe, the other piece of the aforementioned trade in exchange for Heathcliff Slocumb, one of the most lopsided trades in MLB history. He excelled as a closer, with 42 saves in 2000, suffering through various bullpen roles before joining the starting rotation in 2002 and absolutely dominating with 21 wins—a season where he came in third in Cy Young voting, following it up with a 17 win season in 2003, another save in the postseason, 14 wins in 2004, three clutch wins in the 2004 playoffs, Lowe developed into an incredible part of the Red Sox rotation. Radatz has a much higher ERA+ than Lowe, but Lowe’s career impresses me a heck of a lot more.



Batter: Tom Poquette

Honestly, most of the Wisconsin batting representatives are sub-par, but Poquette leads the bunch with an OPS+ of 106. I don’t have much to say about Poquette, but after really diving into other Badger State natives, there wasn’t anything else to put me off putting Poquette up here.


Sports Contributor Archive 2020 Photo by Ron Vesely/Getty Images

Pitcher: Otey Clark

If there weren’t great choices for Wisconsin batters, there were even worse choices for pitchers. Clark leads this group in ERA+, and frankly, the only reason I didn’t go with the runner-up, in this case, is because Zane Smith had an ERA+ of 87 in his time in Boston, despite a higher ERA.


Otey Clark
Otey Clark


Batter: George Thomas

There were only four Minnesota natives to choose from as far as batters go, and none of them had an OPS+ over 100. So why Thomas? His OPS+ was the highest of the bunch at 95, and his contributions came partly during the 1967 Impossible Dream team season.


St. Louis Cardinals v Boston Red Sox Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

Pitcher: Bullett Joe Bush

Honestly, Bullet Joe Bush came close to being a two-time runner-up here. His highest career WAR, a strong ERA+ of 108 (third amongst Minnesotans), the most wins, second most strikeouts and insane amount of innings racked up put him just over the top. Aaron Sele has the most K’s and Tom Burgmeier had an insane ERA+, but Bush did some amazing things. He beat out Babe Ruth and Carl Mays with a better ERA in 1918 (2.11, which was a career low) and in strikeouts with 125, which led the whole team. That’s pretty damn cool.


Bullet Joe Bush
Bullet Joe Bush


Batter: Bill Mueller

Mueller has two moments in video below that will always live on in Red Sox history, but my zillenial self didn’t know just how good he was in Boston until this article. In three seasons in Boston, he hit almost half of his career home runs, and had his highest-ever batting average (.326 in 2003, which led the Bigs), RBI total (85 in 2003), and earned a reputation for consistency. Having a reputation for beating one of the most elite closers in Major League history is a big leg up too. Mueller obviously has a World Series to his name, but an OPS+ of 119 makes a world of difference in beating out other Missouri natives here.


Pitcher: Smoky Joe Wood

I’m half convinced Smoky Joe isn’t real. An ERA+ of 149 as a starter in 7 seasons pitched in Boston, a 1.99 ERA, 986 strikeouts, and a 34-win season in 1912, I genuinely can’t believe these numbers. And yet, they’re real. It wasn’t even close. For a few seasons, Wood was one of the best pitchers in all of baseball. He won the World Series twice in Boston, and three times overall, he’s in the Red Sox Hall of Fame, he’s the best choice for the Show-Me State on the bump.


Smoky Joe Wood Photo by Heritage Art/Heritage Images via Getty Images


Batter: Wade Boggs

I’ll talk about another Red Sox turned Yankee in the state below, but Boggs was genuinely one of the most spectacular hitters to put on a Red Sox uniform. The Omaha native won five batting titles, including four straight from 1985-1988, was a 12-time consecutive All-Star, a 10-time Silver Slugger award winner, and overall, one of the best contact hitters in MLB history. With an OPS+ of 142 in his time in Boston, it’s not even a question as to why his number is retired and his name is in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Chicken Man was a legend off the field as well, with the story of his 73-beer flight that turned into 107 by the end of the night and his superstition of eating chicken before every game; Boggs is just a character. I can’t blame Boggs for the circumstances in which he left Boston for the Bronx, though we all can be bitter about the success he continued to have. Even still, he far and away clears the top of the list for Nebraska.


Pitcher: Jake Diekman

...why? Well, he’s the only other pitcher other than Kip Gross and Diekman was better than Gross, that’s why. Frankly, the Wymore didn’t do a terrible job for parts of his time in Boston, even in part of the closer-by-committee role. Did his trade to the White Sox end up making the Red Sox better? I think Resse McGuire has paid off more for the Red Sox than Diekman did. Still, Diekman has to be the Nebraska representative here.



Batter: Johnny Damon

Oh, Jonny D. He was a hero who lived long enough to see himself become a villain. Even still, his legacy with the Red Sox is hard to match. An OPS+ of 108, Damon leads Kansas natives in RBI, HRs, stolen base (by a very large amount), and games played in Boston. Though a military brat who really settled in Florida (see my Carlton Fisk argument again, and Clemens above), Damon was a premier leadoff hitter in 2004, scoring the second most runs in the league. Frankly, 2004 was a career year for Damon in RBI as well, with 94. A World Series ring doesn’t hurt either. Then he did the unthinkable and signed with the Evil Empire. I still have memories of my little brother unscrewing a Johnny Damon baseball card from a plaque and ripping it, he was so torn up about it. Damon did prosper with another World Series with the Yankees, and then time caught up wth him for the last few seasons of his MLB career.


Pitcher: Mike Torrez

Torrez’s legacy is tied up in the Bucky Dent home run, which makes things complicated, but in my eyes, the Topeka native still deserves this place on the list. Leading Kansas pitchers in strikeouts, wins, and innings pitched (which I know aren’t the best metrics), Torrez frankly had the most longevity when it comes to The Wheat State. An ERA+ of 94 is frankly subpar, but our runner-up in Steven Renko has some less-than-stellar accolades of his own, including leading the NL in earned runs and wild pitches at different points of his career, despite a higher ERA+ and slightly better WAR.


1978 Red Sox-Yankees One-Game Playoff Photo by George Rizer/The Boston Globe via Getty Images


Batter: Bing Miller

Iowa is another case of less-than-stellar choices, but Bing Miller floats to the top with a bang-average 100 OPS+, the highest batting average of the bunch, and the second-highest RBIs and home runs. It’s his career prior to Boston where he shined, namely with the Philadelphia Athletics. A two-time World Series champion, he was known for being an incredible contact hitter and played alongside a number of greats, including the beginning of Jimmie Foxx’s legendary career.


Bing Miller
Bing Miller

Pitcher: Mike Boddicker

This was a two-horse race between Boddicker and Mace Brown (there were other choices but none with the amount of appearances in Boston to make it worth exploring). Brown has the edge in ERA+. Boddicker has a commanding lead in overall WAR. Boddicker also dominates in strikeouts, an eye-watering 344 compared to Brown’s 70, though Brown was a reliever. Much credit to Brown, who went off to fight in WWII and came back to pitch one more season with the Red Sox, and even was a pitching coach for the Sox in 1965. Still, Boddicker has more accolades in the way of baseball to put him on top.


Boston Red Sox v Baltimore Orioles

North Dakota

Batter: NO ONE

Our first no-representative search since Delaware!

Pitcher: Matt Strahm

Strahm is a case where he is literally the only pitcher from North Dakota to don the Red Sox uniform. He wasn’t terrible per se, an ERA+ of 111 showed he was effective...when he was healthy. A stint on the COVID IL and then missing a month due to a left wrist contusion left him with 50 appearances on the dot in Boston, with 52 K’s to his credit.


South Dakota

Batter: Carroll Hardy

This was a literal two-horse race. Hardy and Marv Olson are the only two players to come out of The Mount Rushmore State. With a higher OPS+, more RBIs and homers, Hardy takes the slot. Hardy was the only player to ever pinch-hit for Ted Williams, but he also pinch-hit for Yaz too. The more you know!


Carroll Hardy
Carroll Hardy
The Boston Globe

Pitcher: Keith Foulke

Like North, like South. Keith Foulke is the only South Dakotan to pitch for the Red Sox, but his legacy is a lot different than Strahm's. The reigning AL Reliever of the Year from 2003 coming into his signing with Boston showcased why he won that award in 2004. Foulke grabbed 32 of 39 saves in the regular season, pitched in 11 of 14 postseason games, racking up 19 strikeouts and only giving up one run. That’s just otherworldly. He’ll live on in Red Sox lore for recording the final out to break the curse. 2005 was very different for Foulke. He battled knee injuries and inconsistency, losing the closer’s role to Mike Timlin. He couldn’t shrug it off for 2006, giving the closer’s spot to a very young Jonathan Papelbon. Even if there were more South Dakotans to compete with, Foulke will always share a special place in Red Sox histoy.


Well, the Midwest gave us a lot of idiots! I certainly mean that in more than one sense. Jason Varitek, Johnny Damon, Keith Foulke, Derek Lowe, and Bill Mueller, all “idiots”, as self-proclaimed by Damon himself. That, I love and am somewhat astonished by at the same time. I keep coming back to Michigan with Varitek and Lowe, all the parallels between accolades, the trade that will forever link them to Boston, and that they both happened to be my choices. Idiots in the sense of a lack of choice also prevailed in a lot of state choices here. We keep moving west next week, as we take a hike around the Rockies in the Mountain region!