By Andy Lindberg
Spring training is upon us and many writers and self-titles “experts” are dubbing the 2011 Red Sox to be one of the finest hardball squads ever assembled. On paper, it is hard to argue with. However if we could go back in time, and pick out the best individual players with their best individual seasons, how would that look in terms of a Red Sox super-squad? Well, I have assembled such a squad; a Justice League of the best ballplayers with their best seasons to take the hallowed grounds of Fenway against any team you wish to stack against them. For those of you who are pink-hatters, you may have to ask your pappys or grandpappys about some of these guys.
Boston Red Sox All-Time Team
LF: 1949 Ted Williams. 43 HR, 159 RBI, .343 BA, .490 OBP
Williams led the league in HR, RBI, Games played, runs scored (150), and walks (162). He only struck out 48 times.
CF: 1912 Tris Speaker. 53 doubles, 10 HR, 90 RBI, .383 BA, .464 OBP, 52 SB
The Grey Eagle led the league in doubles, homers and RBI on his way to the only MVP award in his Hall of Fame career.
RF: 1982 Dwight Evans. 32 HR, 98 RBI, .292 BA, .402 OBP
Dewey played every game in 1982 and racked up his 5th Gold Glove award to cap a brilliant well-rounded season.
1B: 1938 Jimmy Foxx. 50 HR, 175 RBI, .349 BA, .704 SLG, 119 BB
Double-X had an absurd season for his third and final MVP award, and first with Boston. Foxx lead the league in RBI, slugging percentage, batting average, and walks. Surprisingly, he did not lead the league in home runs. That honor went to Detroit’s Hank Greenberg, who popped 58.
2B: 1950 Bobby Doerr. 27 HR, 120 RBI, .294 BA.
Doerr led the league with 11 triples in arguably his best statistical season in his Hall of Fame career with the Red Sox.
SS: 1998 Nomar Garciaparra. 35 HR, 122 RBI, 323 BA.
Even though Garciaparra batted .357 and .372 in 1999 and 2000, respectively, he brought on more consistent run production in 1998 than any other season he played in the majors. From 1997-2000, there was no question that Garciaparra was the single best shortstop in baseball. Had he been able to stay healthy throughout the majority of his career afterward, he would be a lock for the Hall of Fame.
3B: 1987 Wade Boggs. 24 HR, 89 RBI, .363 BA, 200 hits.
Ok, if you had told my late grandfather that in 1996 Boggs would celebrate a World Series win by riding a horse around Yankee Stadium while wearing pinstripes, he would have punched you in the face…repeatedly. But Boggs’ treachery aside, he’s in the Hall of Fame with a “B” on his cap. In 1987 Boggs lead the league in batting average; something he did five times in a Boston uniform. There is little question his 11 years in a Boston uniform showcased his talent as the best third baseman to don the Boston logo.
C: 1977 Carlton Fisk. 26 HR, 102 RBI, .315 BA
Was there any doubt it would be Fisk? While his statistics were never overly gaudy in the grand scheme of the game, they were given his position. As a catcher, Fisk put up production in 1977 usually reserved for a first baseman. He was also named to his 5th All Star game. He was named to 11 in his career.
Starting Pitcher: 1999 Pedro Martinez. 23-4, 2.07 ERA, 313 K’s, 0.923 WHIP
Forget Clemens in ’86 or ’90, from 1997-2000, Martinez was arguable the greatest pitcher in the history of the game, and that’s a massive statement. In 1999 Martinez lead the league in strikeouts, WHIP, wins and ERA. In the 1999 All Star Game, Martinez fanned 5 of six batters faced. Just some guys named Walker, Sosa and McGwire. His dominance came from an array of pitches. Clemens had heat, Pedro had heat, and a curveball that would snap your knees and the single best circle changeup I have ever seen, even to this day. His control was impeccable as he only walked 37 batters in ’99.
Closing pitcher: 2008 Jonathan Papelbon. 5-4, 2.34 ERA, 41 SV, 67 games pitched.
Not really many options here for the Red Sox, as Papelbon is clearly the best and most capable closer they’ve ever had. In 2008, the numbers weren’t as eye popping as his ERA was in 2007 and 2009. However Papelbon was durable and walked only 8 batters in 69.1 innings pitched.
Now, in my view, the DH is un-American and doesn’t reflect well upon the game. Don’t get me wrong, I love David Ortiz borderline man-crush style after the 2004 ALCS, but having the pitcher bat is PURE baseball. Plus, with this lineup, you wouldn’t need a DH anyway.
How would the lineup look?
- Garciaparra (6)
- Boggs (5)
- Williams (7)
- Foxx (3)
- Fisk (2)
- Doerr (4)
- Evans (9)
- Speaker (8)
- Martinez (1)
Come one, come all, bring me your All-Time teams. And if you make a Yankee All-Time team, and 1961 Whitey Ford is NOT your starting pitcher, then you’re clearly not a Yankee or a baseball fan and you must relinquish your fan-ship post-haste, followed by a ritual burning of your man-card. He was named the Chairman of the Board for a reason, and there was no other pitcher in Yankee history that relished the big game as much as Ford did.
Just sayin’, the Sox All-Timers would still bat around on him, though.