Boston Red Sox all-time team: Big Papi, Pedro, Pedroia in history-rich lineup


In an effort to avoid going stir crazy with MLB and every other major sports league shut down during the coronavirus pandemic, I’ve decided to take a look at the best of the best for each baseball franchise. We’re going to have a 30-day series creating an all-time team for each MLB team. We’ll break down one team per day throughout April, starting today with the history-rich Boston Red Sox.

As a (hopefully?) fun twist, I’m making a Baseball Stars team for each. That’s right, the old-school Nintendo video game “Baseball Stars,” which I still consider to be the best baseball video game ever. It allowed you to create teams and I used to make all-time lineups for prominent MLB franchises. There are the eight position players with four starting pitchers, one reliever and five bench position players on each Baseball Stars squad.

Let’s fill out the Red Sox lineup card.

Catcher

We start off with a pretty easy one. He’s a Hall of Famer and had an iconic franchise moment. He also has the top three WAR seasons and five of the top eight for all Red Sox catchers. It’s Carlton Fisk

First base

Most of his prime came with the A’s, but Double-X Jimmie Foxx spent seven seasons with the Red Sox, clubbing 222 of his 534 career homers with Boston. He led the league in RBI, walks, average, OBP and slugging in 1938, winning his third MVP. Mo Vaughn had a nice run, but he’s no match for Jimmie. 

Second base

Bobby Doerr ranks eighth in WAR among Red Sox position players and would be the pick for several teams, but not here. Dustin Pedroia edges him out. It’s too bad that his body has broken down the last several years, but prime Pedroia was one of the best players in baseball, winning the 2008 MVP. 

Shortstop

A tip of the cap to Hall of Famer Joe Cronin, who hit .300/.394/.484 (122 OPS+) in his 11 seasons with the Red Sox and Xander Bogaerts might eventually be the pick here. But for now I’m with Nomar Garciaparra. Do we underrate Nomar when looking back at his career because of how things fell apart quickly? It’s possible. In his nine seasons with the Red Sox, he hit .323/.370/.553 (133 OPS+) and he sits 11th all-time in WAR among Red Sox position players. 

Third base

Wade Boggs with ease. 

Left field

Ted Williams. Please. 

Center field

I thought about moving Mookie Betts here, but we’ve got to give the historical due to Tris Speaker, one of the original superstars. 

Right field

For quite a while, Dwight Evans would’ve been the pick, and he still ranks fourth in franchise history in WAR behind Williams, Carl Yastrzemski (who’s stuck in left behind Teddy Ballgame) and Boggs. Mookie Betts, however, won an MVP and a ring in his time in Boston and has three of the top four WAR seasons in right field (Williams has the other in a year he swung over to right). 

Designated hitter

Apologies to J.D. Martinez along with others we could have used in this spot like Jim Rice, Evans and Yaz, but it’s Big Papi time. David Ortiz is the easy pick. 

Starting pitchers

They’ve had their fair share of exceptional pitchers. From Chris Sale all the way back to Cy Young. Luis Tiant, Babe Ruth, Jon Lester, Curt Schilling and so many others warranted consideration. The ace is a very easy pick, though. 

Yes, Pedro Martinez. It seems there are two distinct parts to Roger Clemens‘ career. But his time with the Red Sox saw him win three Cy Youngs and an MVP. Lefty Grove, who won the ERA title in four of his eight seasons with the Red Sox, gets included here as I’m partial to “Lefty.” (I’m a southpaw). Finally, it’s Cy Young. Of course he joins the group. 

Reliever

Derek Lowe, Bob Stanley, Koji Uehara, Craig Kimbrel and others merited discussion, but it’s gotta be Jonathan Papelbon. He saved 219 games in a Red Sox uniform. 

The Lineup

Baseball Stars uses six characters for each name. What follows is the Baseball Stars lineup:

  1. Boggs, 3B
  2. Betts, RF
  3. Ted, LF
  4. Foxx, 1B
  5. Papi, DH
  6. Nomar, SS
  7. Tris, CF
  8. Fisk, C
  9. Dustin, 2B

SP: Pedro, Rocket, Cy, Lefty
RP: Paps

Bench: Yaz, Dewey (Dwight Evans), (Jim) Rice, (Bobby) Doerr, Jason (Varitek)

I’m also good to punt backup catcher and go with Cronin or JDM (JD Martinez). Regardless, that’s a stacked team, which should’ve been expected given the history of the franchise. 

As always, feel free to hit me up on Twitter with your own team (@MattSnyderCBS). 





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