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Babe Ruth in Uniform

Where In The World Is The Best Red Sox Player: Mid-Atlantic

As Barney Stinson would say, this region was legen...WAIT FOR IT...dary.

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?

So, one region down and already some very notable players have graced our presence. Carlton Fisk, the man with arguably one of the most iconic moments in Red Sox history, Mo Vaughn, the sultan of swat for the 90s Sox, Tony C, a legendary “what if” story but an incredible player in his own right.

Today, we take a good drive down I-95 and look at the best Red Sox players to come out of the Mid-Atlantic states.

New York

Batter: Carl Yastrzemski

Oh, that man we call Yaz. Our career-long Bostonian. As a zillennial, it seems unfathomable the amount of eras of Red Sox teams he played in. From the dog days leading to The Impossible Dream squad of ‘67, the emergence of other legends like Luis Tiant, Fred Lynn, Jim Rice, Dwight Evans, all the way through the Bucky Dent game and then some, he was only a year shy of being a part of Roger Clemens’ first MLB season. If the walls of Yaz’s homes could talk, the stories they hold would captivate diehards for eons.

Oh yeah, the guy was a pretty good ballplayer too. A 130 career OPS+, 18 All-Star Game nods, including consecutive bids for from 1965-1979, an MVP in 1967, seven Gold Gloves, it doesn’t seem like there was much that Yaz couldn’t do. Hailing from Southampton, it was far and away obvious that he would be New York’s batting representative.

Pitcher: Bill Dinneen

Bill who? Unless you’re versed in turn-of-the-century rosters, Bill Dinneen’s name might not ring any bells. Frankly, it shouldn’t. There were other choices for New York’s pitching who had an ERA+ higher (I did have to limit the search to those with 30 or more games pitched), but Dinneen led the group by far in innings pitched (1,500 with the Sox) and strikeouts (602). He also has a World Series title with the franchise—then called the Americans—earning him a spot in the Red Sox Hall of Fame.

Dinneen’s claim to fame after baseball is He had a longer stint as a Major League umpire than he did as a player, being the home plate umpire for the first-ever All-Star Game, umpiring eight World Series, and is the only umpire ever to both pitch and umpire a no-hitter, which his pitching accolade did happen with the Red Sox in 1905. The Syracuse native was a really fascinating research project in and of himself and rightfully earned this slot with his pitching metrics alone.

Bill Dinneen Baseball Card Photo by Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images

New Jersey

Batter: Doc Cramer

New Jersey batters...were slim pickings. Only 2 ever NJ batters to play for the Red Sox had an OPS+ over 100, and neither of them was my pick. A native of Beach Haven, Cramer has an OPS+ of 80 as a Red Sox, but the guy drove in more runs than any other player from The Garden State. He was an All-Star in four of his five seasons as a Red Sox but spent more time as a Major Leaguer in Philadelphia and Detroit than in Boston. In his last season in Boston in 1940, he led the entire Majors in plate appearances (661) and hits (200). He has the most hits of anyone pre-1975 not elected to the Hall of Fame.

Pitcher: Rick Porcello

Despite the lack of too many personal accolades, the Morristown native Porcello was a great choice for the best Red Sox pitcher to come from New Jersey. 2016 was a magnum opus for the righty. Going 22-4 with a 3.15 ERA, a 142 ERA+, and a league-leading 5.91 strikeouts-to-walks ratio in a career-high 223.0 innings pitched, Porcello did just enough more than a superstar in Justin Verlander to earn a Cy Young, though that’s still up for debate in the baseball community, having earned fewer first place votes than Verlander. He was a remarkably strong member of the rotation who won it all in 2018, now a part of the back end of the rotation with Chris Sale, Nathan Eovaldi, and Eduardo Rodriguez in front of him.

Pretty Ricky was pretty good, and a great choice here.


Batter: Buck Freeman

Born in Catasauqua, Freeman has the most games played, RBIs, runs scored, hits, and total bases, and is second in home runs and walks for any Keystone State representative for the Sox. He spent his last playing years in Boston, from 1901-1907, but that doesn’t mean his play diminished. In 1901, he finished second in most major batting categories league-wide, only behind Nap Lajoie. He was a key part of the Red Sox’s first-ever World Series title in 1903, leading the Majors in homers and RBIs. He was the first player in franchise history to ever hit for the cycle! He feels like one of those deep cuts in a game of Red Sox trivia, but he certainly made contributions to the earliest days of the franchise.

1903 World Series Champions, the Boston Pilgrims

Pitcher: Sparky Lyle

From Du Bois, Lyle was much more a Yankee than a Red Sox. Despite that, the reliever leads Pennsylvanian-born Red Sox relievers in strikeouts, and all pitchers in ERA+ and games played for the Red Sox. Lyle broke out in 1968, going 6-1 with 11 saves for the Sox, becoming the squad’s primary lefty reliever, and continued with an even more dominant 1969, hurling 102.2 innings with an 803 record, 17 saves, and 93 K’s. Frankly, Lyle seemed like he was the Sox’s defacto closer from 1969-71. Then he was traded to the Yankees, where he promptly became a legend, becoming the first AL reliever ever to win the Cy Young. Not quite the Babe Ruth trade, but another in probably a laundry list of bad moves that made the Pinstripes way better to the Red Sox’s detriment.


Batter: No One

WHAT?! This isn’t a case that there were no good candidates. I would have to have picked someone from the bunch, or of the singular if that were the case. There genuinely have been no batters (non-pitchers) who hail from The First State that ever played for the Red Sox, Americans, or any iteration of the franchise. Surprising given how old the franchise is, I know. There’s still time to change this!

Pitcher: George Prentiss

When I meant if there were one singular person in a search that I’d have to pick them...enter George Prentiss. What is it with anti-Delawarian bias from the Red Sox?

It’s not even that Prentiss was good; having played only 9 games ever between 1901 and 1902, an ERA+ of 79, a career WAR of -0.7, an ERA of 4.59 and 9 strikeouts, not to say I could have done better, but there are far and away better pitchers who’ve spent less time in the Majors in general. It’s just that Prentiss is the only one to have donned a Red Sox uniform from Delaware.

His life off the field? A lot crazier. In 1899, he was charged with bastardy—getting a woman pregnant outside of marriage—having to quickly marry the woman alleged, who she then filed divorce papers a week later. In 1900, he reportedly had tonsilitis, and the multiple surgeries led him to contract blood poisoning. In 1902 while playing for the Orioles, he contracted typhoid fever, recovered, then relapsed and passed away in his hometown of Wilmington, DE from the disease. What an absolutely bizarre life off the field. It’s hard to blame him for his numbers.

George Prentiss
George Prentiss


Batter: Babe Ruth

Pitcher: Babe Ruth

OK, I know. Hear me out. I did seriously consider Jimmie Foxx as a batter and Lefty Grove as a pitcher. Hell, Lefty Grove statistically looks better than Babe Ruth on paper. But remember one thing I set up about what defines the best player in my introduction to this series: legacy. Babe Ruth is beyond legend, he is THE historical benchmark for what defines a baseball star. His legacy with the Red Sox playing-wise is phenomenal, a career WAR of 182.6 (that does include his Yankees time), but a 190 OPS+ just with the Red Sox as a hitter, 485 K’s on the mound and an ERA+ of 125 in Boston alone, he’s certainly a part of the discussion on the metrics alone.

He defined what larger than life as a baseball player meant. Endorsements, crazy lifestyles, the Curse of the Bambino that hung over this franchise’s head for 86 long years, and even still, he’s a paragon of baseball of his time, and frankly still of ours. It’s amazing to see what Shohei Ohtani is doing in comparison to Ruth, but he hasn’t pitched in a Red Sox uniform...yet (come on, Chaim).

As interestingly tough a decision as this was with Foxx and Grove being phenomenal statistically in their own rights, the Sultan of Swat—hailing from Baltimore—is the only call for what he means to the entire sport.

Babe Ruth Throwing Baseball Photo by George Rinhart/Corbis via Getty Images


Batter: Jackie Bradley Jr.

Huh? A guy we all know as a streaky hitter at best lands here? Virginia was by far the weirdest search with more than a handful of players to a state. All the choices had OPS+ under 100, only 5 played more than 100 games in Boston, but of that bunch, JBJ is for sure the standout. Between his longevity, 964 games played with the Red Sox, the most of just about every offensive metric amongst Virginian Red Sox players, hits, walks, homers, and RBI, the Richmond native became pretty much the only choice. We all know him more for his glove than his bat (it’s shocking that he only has one Gold Glove to his name), but that’s not to diminish at least one or two very important at-bats in Boston. The Killer B’s outfield of JBJ, Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi was once the future core of this club, and Jackie Bradley Jr.

Pitcher: Billy Wagner

Ok, I cheaped out on this one, a little bit. Wagner ranks 16th of 22 players to pitch (which yes, does include JBJ’s position player pitching appearance!) in games pitched. John Wasdin and Ted Wingfield hurled in over 100 games as a Red Sox, compared to Wagner’s 15. Wingfield tossed 31 complete games—granted he pitched in the 20’s where it was more of the norm, but did so with an ERA+ of 103. Jeff Gray has an ERA+ of 129 across two seasons in Boston in 1990-91. See my remarks about Babe Ruth as to why I singled out Wagner here. Wagner pitched for the Red Sox for literally a month and a half. He was acquired from the Mets in late August 2009 and even made it a point they Red Sox couldn’t exercise his option for 2010 if he were to land in Boston. Based on his career in Houston and Philadelphia, he’s trending to be in the Hall of Fame before his eligibility ends.

It’s not even that Wagner was bad as a Red Sox too. In 13.2 IP, he struck out 22 and gave up seven walks and five runs, only three of them earned. Technically it’s an ERA+ of 241! It may be one of the only times I ignore someone with a larger sample size in Boston. Wagner’s baseball prowess long before his brief Boston stint merits it.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Boston Red Sox, Game 3 Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

West Virginia

Batter: Dick Hoblitzell

West Virginia reps three players who played over 100 games with the Red Sox, which is three more baseball players I knew were from West Virginia, admittedly. From Waverly, Hoblitzell played in 468 games from 1914-1948. All but one of the candidates played pre-1945, with Dana Williams playing 8 games in 1989. Back to Hoblitzell, he was the Red Sox’s regular first basemen until 1918, reportedly rooming very frequently with Babe Ruth to be a “good influence” on the superstar. Hoblitzell’s playing days ended not due to injury or war, but due to time needed to serve in the US Army Dental Corps after becoming draft eligible.

Pitcher: Chuck Stobbs

With only three ever West Virginians to take the bump for Boston, Stobbs was an easy choice on all metrics. An ERA+ of 98, a record of 33-23, 232 strikeouts (yeah, he did also give up 254 walks), Stobbs beats out two guys who played a combined 12 games total not just for the Red Sox, but ever. The Wheeling native pitched after WWII, from 1947 to 1951 in Boston, but played until 1961! He mainly established himself as a starter in 1949, going 11-6 with a 4.03 ERA. He was rejected twice by the Army to fight in Korea before the 1951 season due to asthma, which seems to be his most notable claim to fame aside from giving up a mammoth 565-ft homer to Micky Mantle later in his career.

Between some all-time legends, some modern-era helpers and a few wild backstories, the Mid-Atlantic more than delivered with some of the best of the best Red Sox. Next week, we dive into the South!

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