I received a tip in my inbox yesterday about the Boston Red Sox and their celebration of Fenway Park’s 100th anniversary. The team is going all-out with the celebration, and the main highlight is the selection of the All-Fenway Park team as voted on by the fans. Voting will go on from now until the beginning of June, with two positions being open for voting every two weeks. I thought it would be fun if we crafted our own All-Fenway team here at TOC.
The e-mail I was forwarded said “Red Sox players voted on by fans as the greatest to appear at their position at Fenway Park”, so I’m going to use that as a general guideline. The e-mail also included the candidates for each position, so we’re going to go by their standards and use only those candidates. Without any further ado, here’s TOC’s All-Fenway team.
Right-Handed Starting Pitcher: Roger Clemens, Dennis Eckersley, Tex Hughson, Jim Lonborg, Pedro Martinez, Bill Monbouquette, Luis Tiant, Tim Wakefield and Smoky Joe Wood.
The Pick: Roger Clemens
You can immediately discount everyone from this list aside from Clemens and Martinez. They are, without a shadow of a doubt, the two best pitchers in Red Sox history. Pedro was in his prime with the Red Sox, and was one of the best pitchers in baseball history during an era where balls were flying out of the park like it was no one’s business. But I decided to go with the Red Sox legend Clemens, even if he did leave Boston on salty terms, and here’s why.
-Longevity. Clemens appeared in 180 more games than Martinez with the BoSox, and threw more than twice as many innings. Pedro only spent seven seasons in Boston in comparison to the 13 Clemens had.
-Starpower. Clemens was the main star on the Red Sox in the 1980s and 1990s, while Pedro was on a team along with Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz, giving him a ton of help.
Honestly, this is a coinflip decision. Either answer is the right one. Do you prefer peak, or longevity? It’s really your call, but I went with Clemens.
Left-Handed Starting Pitcher: Ray Collins, Lefty Grove, Bruce Hurst, Bill Lee, Dutch Leonard, Jon Lester, Mel Parnell, Herb Pennock and Babe Ruth
The Pick: Lefty Grove
This is more of a “default” pick, because none of the candidates are great. Ruth will probably get a ton of support based on name value alone, but played just six seasons for the Red Sox before joining their biggest rival and becoming one of the best hitters of all-time. Note: hitter, and not pitcher. I ended up going with Grove, despite most of the success of his career coming with the Philadelphia A’s. Grove did spend eight seasons in Boston though, and won 105 games, tenth in team history.
Catcher: Rick Ferrell, Carlton Fisk, Rich Gedman, Birdie Tebbetts, Jason Varitek and Sammy White.
The Pick: Carlton Fisk
It’s a two horse race here between Fisk and Varitek, and despite The Captain’s longer tenure in Boston, logging 1500 more plate appearances, Fisk was just better. Fisk is widely recognized as one of the best catchers in baseball history, and Varitek just isn’t at that level. Fisk’s overall numbers are better across the board without even taking his tenure in Chicago into account.
First Base: Bill Buckner, Jimmie Foxx, Stuffy McInnis, George Scott, Mo Vaughn and Kevin Youkilis.
The Pick: Jimmie Foxx
I was about to criticize the inclusion of Youkilis on the list, but once 2012 begins, he’ll soon be second all-time in fWAR among BoSox first basemen. That’s pretty wild. Foxx of course is first, amassing 43.3 fWAR in 887 games (fewer than Youkilis, mind you). Foxx also had a mind-bending .457 wOBA with Boston, and though he gained his fame in Philadelphia with the A’s like Grove did, he was otherworldly with the Sox.
Second Base: Mike Andrews, Marty Barrett, Bobby Doerr, Pete Runnels, Dustin Pedroia and Jerry Remy.
The Pick: Bobby Doerr
Pedroia could surpass Doerr by the time his career is over, but right now, the Hall of Famer is the king of the castle. Doerr spent his entire 15 year career in Boston and had over 2,000 hits, 1,000 runs, and 1,200 RBI. Doerr is one of the best hitters in team history, and while Pedroia is still quite young and loaded with potential, Doerr did it all for the Red Sox.
Third Base: Wade Boggs, Larry Gardner, Mike Lowell, Frank Malzone, Bill Mueller and John Valentin.
The Pick: Wade Boggs
Another no-brainer. The number two and three guys on Boston’s all-time fWAR list for third basemen are listed in the voting as shortstops. Boggs has more than double the fWAR of Gardner, the next highest candidate. Even if Boggs had to go a little to the south to get a championship, he was still a Red Sox icon, hitting .338 with the team and recording 2/3 of his 3,000 hits as a member of the Sox.
Shortstop: Rick Burleson, Joe Cronin, Nomar Garciaparra, Johnny Pesky, Rico Petrocelli and Everett Scott.
The Pick: Nomar Garciaparra
As much as I’d love to go with Petrocelli because of family reasons, I’ve gotta go with Nomar, even if he did play less than 1,000 games with the team. He indirectly helped the Sox win the 2004 World Series when he was traded for a package that included Orlando Cabrera, and his overall line of .323/.370/.553 was great, albeit in a hitters era. I think it’s telling that of these six candidates, Petrocelli was the only one with a strikeout rate higher than 10%. Not striking out is a nice little feature that Boston’s shortstops have had throughout history.
Left Field: Mike Greenwell, Duffy Lewis, Manny Ramirez, Jim Rice, Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski.
The Pick: Ted Williams
This isn’t fair. Ramirez, Williams, and Yaz are three of the best players in team history, and only one will get to be on the team. The nod obviously has to go to Williams, due to his standing as the best pure hitter in MLB history. Both Williams and Yaz are icons, but Williams’ career line of .344/.482/.634 is completely ridiculous. Both men are also Triple Crown winners, with Williams winning two during his career. As for Ramirez, he just doesn’t have the longevity of either of those two guys. I’d honestly like to meet anyone who votes for Mike Greenwell in this category, just so I can ask them how much he paid them to vote for him.
Right Field: Tony Conigliaro, J.D. Drew, Dwight Evans, Harry Hooper, Jackie Jensen and Trot Nixon.
The Pick: Dwight Evans
Do you think Red Sox fans are seeing JD Drew on this list, and are just cackling? Evans, who logged over 10,000 plate appearances with the Sox, is the clear winner here. Evans’ 379 homers are more than 200 more than any other Boston right fielder.
Center Field: Johnny Damon, Dom DiMaggio, Fred Lynn, Jimmy Piersall, Reggie Smith and Tris Speaker.
The Pick: Tris Speaker
Speaker was a fantastic player, albeit one that only played eight years for Boston. But in those eight years, he managed to amass 57.9 fWAR and hit .337/.414/.482. DiMaggio is a close second. The brother of the famed Yankee Clipper had numbers across the board that paled in comparison to Speaker’s though, despite an extra 300 games with the Sox.
Designated Hitter: Don Baylor, Orlando Cepeda, Cecil Cooper, Mike Easler, Reggie Jefferson and David Ortiz.
The Pick: David Ortiz
Putting Jim Rice on the ballot as a left fielder opened the door for Ortiz, who could go down in history as one of the best DHs of all-time (whatever that may mean at the end of the day). Aside from Ortiz and Rice, no other Boston DH has a double digit fWAR. That’s pretty amazing.
Bench: Jerry Adair, Bernie Carbo, Alex Cora, Billy Goodman, Dalton Jones, John Kennedy, Ted Lepcio, Rick Miller, Dave Roberts and Dave Stapleton.
The Pick: Uhhhhh….
I really don’t know where to go here. None of these guys logged significant time in Boston, and were truly utility players, getting time at multiple positions. I’m not overly familiar with any of them past Carbo, Cora, Roberts, and Stapleton, either. I’ll leave this one up to Red Sox Nation.
Bullpen: Ike Delock, Tom Gordon, Ellis Kinder, Derek Lowe, Sparky Lyle, Jonathan Papelbon, Dick Radatz, Jeff Reardon, Bob Stanley and Mike Timlin.
The Pick: Jonathan Papelbon
Papelbon is the team’s all-time save leader, has a career 2.33 ERA, and is second all-time in strikeout rate among relievers behind Lee Smith. Even though he departed via free agency this offseason, he’s still the closest thing to a dominant closer that the Red Sox have had throughout their history.
Manager: Bill Carrigan, Joe Cronin, Terry Francona, Joe Morgan, Dick Williams and Don Zimmer.
The Pick: Terry Francona
Two World Championships, and a broken curse. Bill Carrigan, who also won two titles, is on the list, but he was only the manager for three seasons. Francona is also second all-time in wins for the franchise. His departure this fall may cause him to lose some votes, but he’s the best they’ve had.
The 10th Man: Top 5 second place finishers across all categories.
The Pick: Pedro Martinez
I wanted to go with Yaz here. I really, really did. But Pedro was just too dominant to overlook. It makes me sad that on this team, either Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez, Yaz, or Ted Williams won’t be on the final team due to the numbers crunch.
Agree with my picks? Disagree? I’d love to hear feedback, so sound off on your picks in the comments!