Top Ten Greatest Boston Red Sox Players Ever
I love Frank but this is a wild list. To not include Yaz at all and have Ruth ranked so high is completely nuts. Rather than whispering "Darin Ruf" to him for the rest of the day, I decided it might be more beneficial to write out my top 10 list and defend the honor of Carl Yastrzemski. This is a tough list to put together as the Red Sox had three Hall Of Fame left fielders alone and that's not even counting Manny Ramirez.
Here is my Top 10 Greatest Boston Red Sox players of all-time. I'm sure many will disagree but please admit in the very least that my list is at least better than Frank's:
10. Dustin Pedroia
This was a tough call. I went with Pedroia over Manny Ramirez, Nomar Garciaparra, Babe Ruth and Tris Speaker. Each of those players had much better careers than Pedroia but were they better Red Sox? Pedroia's career was over earlier than it should have been due to injuries but his resume is still pretty outstanding. He won an MVP award, Rookie of the Year and was a major contributor on two World Series winning teams. On top of all of that, he was a brilliant defensive player as well.
Pedroia has no business being in the Hall of Fame. He only had 1805 hits and played his last full season at 33. If he hadn't gotten hurt, could he have had a career like Barry Larkin? I think so but while he would need that longevity to get into Cooperstown, he doesn't to be the 10th best player in Red Sox history.
9. Cy Young
Cy Young's stats are so weird, it's almost impossible to compare them to guys who played after 1920. I hate the argument that if a guy from the 20's or 30's played today, they would suck. No shit. Humans have evolved and the sport simply existing for a hundred years beyond Babe Ruth has made players much better at the game. That's not a fair argument. You can only compare Ruth or Ted Williams or Lou Gehrig against who they played against.
But with guys who played in the dead ball era, it gets very hard because the game itself was so different. Young was with Boston from 1901-08. This was a time when Harry Davis led the league in home runs in 1907 with 8. In 1902, Young himself went 32-11 and pitched 384 innings. But even though the stats are crazy, I still think he deserves a place on this list. He was the best pitcher in baseball during his early years in Boston. That has to count for something. I'm just not exactly sure what.
8. Jim Rice
From 1977-79, Rice was the most feared slugger in baseball. His 1978 season was especially wild. With the exception of that three year stretch, he spent so much of his career never quite being the best. He came up with Fred Lynn who instantly won the MVP. Rice was the third in the string of Hall of Fame left fielders (Ted Williams, Yaz and then Rice). By the 80's, it was Wade Boggs and Roger Clemens who got all the headlines.
It ended quick for Rice when his eyes went and he was out of baseball by 36. He is a borderline Hall of Famer but similar to Pedroia, he's a must for this list. He's certainly an all-time Red Sox.
7. Dwight Evans
Dwight Evans was off the Hall of Fame ballot in three seasons yet was a better player than Jim Rice. Rice was the better home run hitter but Evans had the better batting eye.
Rice: .298/.352/.502, 382 HR, 1451 RBI, 128 OPS+
Evans: .272/.370/.470, 385 HR, 1384 RBI, 127 OPS+
The batting stats are pretty close to identical but the difference for me was how great Evans was playing right field. WAR takes that into effect and then the question of who was better becomes a little clearer.
Rice: 47.7 WAR
Evans: 67.2 WAR
I really hope Evans gets another chance to get into Cooperstown with the Modern Era Committee. He's the victim of bad timing. If he had that same career 15 years later, he would have been looked at very differently.
6. Wade Boggs
Wade Boggs was a pretty great baseball player. I think he was better than Tony Gwynn. Gwynn was the better contact hitter and was very fast early in his career but Boggs played a tougher position and had such an elite batting eye. Gwynn is more warmly remembered because he was so friendly, played his entire career in one city and died so young. But if I had to start a team tomorrow and I could have either player at the beginning of their careers, I would choose Boggs.
5. Roger Clemens
Roger Clemens and Cy Young are tied for the Red Sox all-time team leader in wins (192) and shutouts (38). Clemens has also struck out more batters than any other Boston pitcher. His stats in Boston alone are Hall of Fame worthy. He won three Cy Youngs, led the AL in ERA four times and even won an MVP award.
Clemens is pretty self-destructive. It was never going to end well in Boston and while fans have warmed to Wade Boggs again, they haven't yet with Clemens. Clemens and Bonds really are the same. Both were already HOFers before they took steroids. They ended up with stats that defy logic but was it worth it?
4. Pedro Martinez
If you value longevity over peak, you probably don't love Pedro being this high on the list. He only played seven years in Boston (compared to Clemens who was there for 13).
Pedro with Boston: 117-37, 2.52 ERA, 190 ERA+
Clemens with Boston: 192-111, 3.06 ERA, 144 ERA+
They may have only been seven years but I'd take that stretch over the bakers dozen by Clemens.
3. David Ortiz
It was leaked that Ortiz failed what was supposed to be an anonymous drug test in 2003 that was to determine if testing would be implemented in 2004. He claims it was an over the counter supplement and to his credit, he never failed a formal drug test despite being tested for over a decade after that. He has to make a list like this. You can make a case that he is the most important player in Red Sox history.
2. Carl Yastrzemski
When Ted Williams retired after the 1960 season, Yaz had to come in and play the same position as a rookie. Imagine having to fill Teddy Ballgame's shoes and still finish with 700 more hits than him? Yaz is similar to Celtics great John Havlicek. Both played forever but aren't held in the same regard as the Boston athletes who played right before and after them. Havlicek is overshadowed by Bill Russell and Larry Bird in Celtics lore. Yaz gets forgotten when next to Williams or even Boggs/Clemens and especially Ortiz.
Yaz had a hell of a career. He won a Triple Crown (and MVP) in 1967, three batting titles and has more American League hits than anyone except Tris Speaker and Derek Jeter.
1. Ted Williams
How long could Ted Williams have played if the DH was around in 1960? He batted .316/.451/.645 in that last season. If he didn't have to worry about playing the field and could entirely focus on hitting, I imagine he'd have played longer than Julio Franco who retired when he was 48.
If Williams could have done that and not have fought in two wars (WWII and Korea), how many hits could he have gotten? 4000? He basically missed five seasons because of the wars alone. It's incredible to think that as great as Ted Williams' career was, it could have been even greater.