Well, the Southwest sure was spicy, right? Alex Verdugo became the first active player to represent a state on the list. Josh Beckett and Mike Timlin became the first two to tie for a state! We finish out the continental 48 with some heavy hitters in their own right.
Batter: John Olerud
Alright, Olerud played just half of a season in Boston, his final 87 games as a Major Leaguer. His 58.2 career WAR is what blows him out of the water. It’s not that he’s even bad in his own right compared to other Washingtonians. Reese McGuire is the only batter to have an OPS higher than him on the list. Dalbec—while he has more games, hits, homers, RBI, walks, etc. than Olerud, Dalbec’s career hasn’t had the accolades of Olrerud. Sammy White, who played entirely in the ‘50s, is a second runner-up based on the sheer volume of games, RBI, and walks, but his metrics still put him under Dalbec. OK, back to Olerud. A two-time World Series Champion and All-Star, 3-time Gold Glove winner, a Baseball Hall of Fame inductee in 2020, his personal accolades make him the most decorated member of The Evergreen State to grace the list. Even if he was just a platoon mate for Kevin Millar, he fits the bill more appropriately for a winner.
RUNNER-UP: BOBBY DALBEC
Pitcher: Jon Lester
The Tacoma native was an easy choice to represent Washington pitchers for the Red Sox. With an ERA+ of 120, a record of 110-63 in Boston with 1386 strikeouts, five All-Star appearances, and three World Series Championships, Lester was one of the best southpaws the Red Sox system developed. He tossed 5.2 shutout innings to win Game 4 of the ‘07 title and anchored the 2013 rotation, winning all three postseason starts en route to that title. He averaged around 15 wins a season, topping out at 19 in 2020, rarely with double-digit losses. A cancer survivor, beating lymphoma and then going on to have an incredible MLB career. Nothing beats tossing 130 pitches in a spectacular no-hitter, though. What a great pick.
RUNNER-UP: EARL JOHNSON
Batter: Johnny Pesky
This was a really tight battle. For all the promise Jacoby Ellsbury had in his career and the success he showed in Boston, he came so close metrics-wise in my head to being the winner here. However, the legacy Pesky has amongst Red Sox Nation is what stole the show. And that’s not to say Pesky was a pushover on the field. A 110 OPS+ is actually higher than Ellsbury’s 108. Pesky has Ellsbury beat out in games played, hits, singles, doubles, triples, RBI, walks, batting average, you name it. The Portland native wasn’t a slugger, but man did he get on base. Oh yeah, he did all this while taking three full seasons off to fight in World War II in the Navy. Pesky put up a stellar career on the field, came back to manage the team for two seasons, had his number retired, is in the Red Sox Hall of Fame, and I can’t forget Pesky Pole. Ellsbury became injury prone, signed with the Evil Empire and flamed out of his career. When you put that all into perspective, you can see why Pesky is the winner.
RUNNER-UP: JACOBY ELLSBURY
Pitcher: Jack Wilson
Honestly, only three pitchers have tossed in more than 30 games in a Red Sox uniform from the Beaver State. Jack Wilson crushes them all in games played, ERA+, strikeouts, innings pitched, you name it. A combination starter/reliever (he started half of his appearances in just about every season in Boston), Wilson was actually an infielder to start his career and switched to pitching to break into the Majors. Sometimes, you need to make a change to get yourself where you want to go!
RUNNER-UP: ALAN EBBREE
Batter: Ted Williams
For the mountains of players from The Golden State who’ve donned a Red Sox uniform, it surprisingly wasn’t a contest. How do you NOT pick Teddy Ballgame? A 191 OPS+, 2292 games all as a Red Sox, a two-time MVP, a 19-time All-Star, a two-time Triple Crown winner, a Hall of Famer, and an elite one at that, his career derailed TWICE to fight in both WWII and Korea, Williams literally did it all. His .482 career OBP is the highest of ALL TIME. The San Diego native is a runaway choice here, and I rightfully would have been run off this website if he wasn’t chosen here.
RUNNER-UP: NOMAR GARCIAPARRA
Pitcher: Dennis Eckersley
Do Eck’s stats propel him right to the top? Not really. His 109 ERA+ is just shy of Spaceman Lee’s 110, Steven Wright somehow had a 115 ERA+, and Frank Sullivan had one of 120. Still, for all Eck did both in baseball and in the booth, I couldn’t not pick him. A six-time All-Star, a World Series champion, an MVP and Cy Young winner in 1992, just the third pitcher to accomplish that awards sweep, Eck was just as enigmatic on the field as he was in the booth. He was with NESN for 20 seasons, and from his Eckisms, to the hilarity he brought alongside every play-by-play guy he worked with, and sheer love and passion for the game he demonstrated every telecast, he quickly endeared himself to Red Sox Nation. A Red Sox, Athletics, and MLB Hall of Famer, and a Hall of Famer in my heart, Eck is a great pick for California.
RUNNER-UP: BILL ‘“SPACEMAN” LEE
Teddy Ballgame, Eck, Pesky, Lester. All in the span of three states. That’s impressive. Some of the best of the best in Boston Red Sox history.
I know I’m milking it, but we save the “map insert” states for their own piece. Hawaii and Alaska round out the United States next week. After that, we go international!