May 26, 2022

The All-Time Red Sox (a draft book chapter)

June 11, 2010 by · 7 Comments 

Who would be selected for a mythical All-Time Red Sox dream team roster? Who would be the starters and who the backups? Who gets snubbed, not quite good enough to make the squad? And how have other authors, as well as fan surveys and the like, answered this fun question throughout the years?

This is the second of what will be many postings to Seamheads that summarize draft book chapters in my forthcoming book on baseball “All-Time Teams” (book title TBD.) As I update/write each chapter, I will post an abstract here, with a link to the full draft chapter as a PDF file hosted at my personal website. I am doing this in part to get comments and feedback as I continue the writing process. My intention is to post another team’s chapter every few weeks. As I started with the Yankees, it seems appropriate that the next team I posted be their rivals, the Boston Red Sox. To read the entire draft chapter for the Red Sox, please see the PDF file here. You can also see the index web page for these draft chapters, and also read the draft of the book introduction (as PDF) here.

(These first two paragraphs are the chapter’s introductory paragraphs, as written…)

The Red Sox history is rich with talent, while lacking in recent post-season success until The Curse was dispelled in 2004. The franchise began in 1901, the year the American League was born. It didn’t always carry the nickname “Red Sox”, variously using Americans, Somersets, and Pilgrims during its first few seasons. All told they’ve managed to capture twelve pennants and seven World Series titles.

As longtime Fenway hopefuls would expect, this team is loaded with power and high-average hitters, but pretty thin on speed. The pitching staff has two great aces, but the bullpen is less impressive than many other long-time franchises.

I will now list my selections for starter and backup at each position, including six outfielders (without separation by RF/CF/LF), and also including 10 pitchers (any combination of up to 8 starters and up to 4 relievers). For my write-ups on why I chose each player, and for the many other players I considered at each position, see the full draft chapter for this team.

  • 1B: Carl Yastrzemski, Jimmie Foxx
  • 2B: Bobby Doerr, Bill Goodman
  • 3B: Wade Boggs, Johnny Pesky
  • SS: Rico Petrocelli, Nomar Garciaparra
  • C: Carlton Fisk, Jason Varitek
  • OF: Ted Williams, Dwight Evans, Jim Rice, Tris Speaker, Dom DiMaggio, Harry Hooper
  • SP: Roger Clemens, Cy Young, Pedro Martinez, Mel Parnell, Luis Tiant, Lefty Grove, Smokey Joe Wood, Tim Wakefield
  • RP: Bob Stanley, Jonathan Papelbon

There were some tough decisions, and lots of good players who didn’t make this roster, so see the full draft chapter for details. And for each team I am picking one “extra” player, the one who I felt was most deserving amongst those who were not selected as a starter, backup, or amongst the ten pitchers. Who do you think it should be for the Red Sox?

So assuming no DH, one reasonable starting lineup might be:

  1. Wade Boggs 3B
  2. Bobby Doerr 2B
  3. Carl Yastrzemski 1B
  4. Ted Williams OF
  5. Jim Rice OF
  6. Dwight Evans OF
  7. Carlton Fisk C
  8. Rico Petrocelli SS
  9. Roger Clemens SP

In the full draft chapter I then discuss the selections from other authors and fan surveys, including:

  • 1958: Sport magazine, February issue
  • 1969: The Sporting News fan poll
  • 1982 Fan Vote, as reported in The Boston Red Sox Fan Book, by David S. Neft, Michael L. Neft, Bob Carroll, and Richard M. Cohen
  • 1990: “All-Time All-Star Teams”, The Baseball Research Journal
  • 1992: The All-Time All-Star Baseball Book, Nick Acocella, and Donald Dewey
  • 1995: Baseball Ratings by Charles S. Faber
  • 2000 Red Sox Century, by Glenn Stout and Richard A. Johnson
  • 2001 Fan Ballots in Boston Globe Vote, as reported in The Boston Red Sox Fan Book, by David S. Neft, Michael L. Neft, Bob Carroll, and Richard M. Cohen
  • 2003: Rob Neyer’s Big Book of Baseball Lineups, by Rob Neyer
  • 2004 The Red Sox Century, by Alan Ross
  • 2004 Few and Chosen: Defining Red Sox Greatness Across the Eras, by Johnny Pesky with Phil Pepe
  • 2006: The Team By Team Encyclopedia of Major League Baseball, by Dennis Purdy (not an all-time team per se, but his list of “significant players”)

Do you know of any books or fan surveys that I’ve missed here? Please let me know in the comments to this posting.

Finally, as part of this project I am determining the all-time team that would be determined by Bill James’ innovative  Win Shares system. To see those results, see the full draft chapter for this team.

Again, your comments and feedback on the draft chapter are very much appreciated, as I hope to get the book published in the next year or so.


7 Responses to “The All-Time Red Sox (a draft book chapter)”
  1. Cliff Blau says:

    It’s an unreasonable lineup, given that there is no center fielder in it, and it leaves Tris Speaker on the bench, although he was vastly superior to either Evans or Rice, and arguably better than Williams.

  2. Tom Strother says:

    At shortstop, I might want to figure out how Vern Stehens fits into the mix. He didn’t have a lot
    of seasons before the bad back curtailed his effectiveness but they were monster seasons.

  3. Mike Lynch says:

    At first glance, I’d add Manny Ramirez to this roster, although I’m not sure who he should replace. Rice seems to be the obvious choice because they’re both right-handed hitters who play left field, but DiMaggio is the weakest hitter of the outfielders. If you drop DiMaggio, though, you only have one center fielder. You could drop Hooper, I suppose, since Manny started his career as a right fielder, but you lose defense. On the other hand,

    I also agree with Cliff that it’s too easy to assign vague outfield positions. So here’s a lineup that I’d go with (and that’s not to say this is right or wrong, just one man’s opinion):

    1. Wade Boggs 3B
    2. Tris Speaker CF
    3. Ted Williams RF
    4. Jimmie Foxx 1B
    5. Carl Yastrzemski LF
    6. Nomar Garciaparra SS
    7. Carlton Fisk C
    8. Bobby Doerr 2B
    9. Pitcher

  4. Tom Stone says:

    @Cliff Blau – As noted in the book introduction, for this project I don’t differentiate between OF positions, choosing instead top-3 OFers as starters, and then the next three as the reserves. One could choose to separate OFers as RF, LF, CF, and that would change who would be starters for some team’s all-time rosters — include the Red Sox as you note here. But that is not how I am doing it for this project — and also not how many others have done it over the years, including many authors and fan surveys that I am analyzing and comparing my selections with.

    And regarding Speaker, while he was a CF’er — there is *no way* his time in Boston alone was superior to Evans or Rice’s time as a Red Sox (not to mention Williams). His entire career, sure — but in choosing an All-Time Red Sox lineup, I am considering only the time the players played *for the Red Sox*.

  5. Tom Stone says:

    @Tom Strother – Agreed, he had a few, great seasons for the Red Sox. See the full draft chapter for my full consideration of candidates at the position.

  6. Tom Stone says:

    @Mike Lynch – See the full Draft chapter for my consideration of Manny. He comes close in my view — I wouln’t really argue with someone preferring him over Hooper for the sixth OF’er spot. And as I note in response to Cliff, for this book project I’m simply not separating the OF positions into RF, LF, CF. Some authors/surveys have done that, but many have not. I do often make remarks about this in the OF sections, but in terms of who I am choosing for the starting three OF and the backup three also, I’m not differentiating it that way.

    Your lineup is a reasonable alternative. You’re splitting the OF positions, so that means Speaker as the clear CF starter. Then you’ve got Yaz in his primary position, which comes down to a decision of Rice/Ramirez (LF) vs. Foxx (1B) in terms of who the starter is. And you prefer Nomar over Petrocelli, which I admit is a close call too (just as I think Young vs. Clemens is for the starting Red Sox pitcher).

  7. Tom Stone says:

    You guys are making a good point about the oddity of seeing an actual *lineup* that doesn’t differentiate between RF/CF/LF. These exchanges are getting me to think that perhaps what I will do in the book is still pick the OFers in order 1-6, not really broken out by RF/CF/LF… but then provide two starting lineups — one where the OF positions are kept generic (my top three OF selections), and then a more realistic one that takes into account RF/CF/LF, and also tosses in a DH (which would be the OF who was dropped in some cases, or another bench player if the OFers happened to already be split out correctly).

    So, for the second lineup in the case of the Red Sox, given my use of Yaz at 1B and my choice of Petrocelli over Nomar at SS, I could have Rice be the DH and get Speaker in CF, so that might yield:

    1.Tris Speaker CF
    2.Wade Boggs 3B
    3.Carl Yastrzemski 1B
    4.Ted Williams LF
    5.Jim Rice DH
    6.Dwight Evans RF
    7.Carlton Fisk C
    8.Bobby Doerr 2B
    9.Rico Petrocelli SS

    Hitters 6-9 could be rearranged in various ways of course, and this is still generic in that its not considering whether they’d be facing a mythical RHP or LHP.

    Fun stuff!

    — Tom S.

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