Founded in 1901, the Boston Red Sox have been the home to some of baseball’s most notable names. From Ruth to Williams to Ortiz and Martinez, there are plenty of greats who called Fenway Park home. With that being said, dwindling this down to one team seems like a daunting task (or is it?). If there was an all-time team for the Red Sox, who would take the field? This team will be comprised of eight position players, a starting pitcher, and three of the franchise’s greatest relievers. At the end, we’ll take a look at some players who just missed the cut.
*Stats are from player’s stint with the Red Sox
Catcher – Carlton Fisk (1969 – 1980)
.284/.356/.481 126 OPS+ 39.5 bWAR 1097 H, 162 HR, 568 RBI
Hall of Fame (2000), Seven-time All-Star, 1972 Rookie of the Year, 1972 Gold Glove Winner
This is one of the selections that seemed clear to start, but was actually a little tougher than expected. As the organization’s only catcher in the Hall of Fame, Fisk is the organization’s All-Time leader amongst catchers in wRC+ and WAR. His only competition was Red Sox lifer Jason Varitek. Varitek is the franchise leader in games caught, home runs, runs, and RBI. Although Varitek owns more franchise records, it is due more to his longevity than his overall talent. When comparing their average seasons as the primary catcher, Fisk edges Varitek in offensive categories while also accumulating a higher defensive rating according to FanGraphs.
First Base – Jimmie Foxx (1936 – 1942)
.320/.429/.605, 156 OPS+, 32.2 bWAR, 1051 H, 222 HR, 788 RBI
Hall of Fame (1951) , 1938 MVP, Six-time All-Star
Jimmie Foxx is a clear choice here. He dominated the 1930’s. The first half of his career was spent in Philadelphia where he made his name as one of the elites, and that didn’t stop when he came to Boston in 1936. He drove in over 100 runs in all six of his Red Sox seasons, and he led the league in OPS+ in two of those seasons. He was the perfect combination of being able to hit for average and power.
Second Base – Bobby Doerr (1937 – 1951)
.288/.362/.461 115 OPS+, 51.6 bWAR, 2042 H, 223 HR, 1247 RBI
Hall of Fame (1986), Nine-time All-Star
This was another one of those selections that was like splitting hairs. Doerr gets the nod here over 2008 MVP Dustin Pedroia. Both spent their entire careers in Boston, but Doerr slightly edges Pedroia because his average season was a bit better. Both missed out on some significant playing time during their careers. Doerr because of military service, and Pedroia because of injuries. Pedroia was the better defender, but Doerr has a higher overall career defensive rating and more career WAR (53.3 to 46.6)
Shortstop – Nomar Garciaparra (1996 – 2004)
.313/.361/.521 124 OPS+, 41.3 bWAR, 1281 H, 178 HR, 936 RBI
1997 Rookie of the Year, Five-time All-Star, 1997 Silver Slugger, 1999-2000 AL Batting Title
If we revisit this in the distant future, Xander Bogaerts may have something to say about this but Garciaparra was a phenom with the Red Sox. There was a time when he was arguably better than both Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez. His .372 batting average in 2000 was the highest in franchise history for someone not named Williams or Speaker.
Third Base – Wade Boggs (1982 – 1992)
.338/.428/.462, 142 OPS+, 71.9 WAR, 2098 H, 85 HR, 687 RBI
Hall of Fame (2005) Eight-time All-Star, 6x Silver Slugger Award Winner, 5 Batting Titles
Again, in ten to 15 years Rafael Devers may be the choice, but the hitting machine known as Wade Boggs mans the hot corner for this team. In six of his Red Sox seasons, Boggs accumulated over 200 hits and 40 doubles. The Green Monster was built for this man.
Right Field – Mookie Betts (2014 – 2019)
.301/.374/.519, 134 OPS+, 42.2 WAR, 965 H, 139 HR, 470 RBI
2018 MVP, Four-time All-Star, Four-time Gold Glove Winner, Three-time Silver Slugger Award Winner, 2018 Batting Title
Mookie Betts put together a Hall of Fame-worthy resume in five years. One of the most beloved Red Sox in recent memory, Betts is the most gifted defender (and or athlete) in franchise history. This all came from a converted second baseman. It’s a shame that he wasn’t able to build on his legend in a Red Sox uniform. He would have surely been able to surpass the 64.3 WAR that Dwight Evans put up as a Red Sox right fielder.
Center Field – Tris Speaker (1907 – 1915)
.337/.414/.482, 166 OPS+, 55.8 bWAR, 1327 H, 286 XBH, 542 RBI
Hall of Fame (1937), 1912 MVP, 1916 Batting Title
Much like Boggs, Speaker was a doubles machine. 53 doubles in 1912, and 46 in 1914 led the league. Once he became a lineup mainstay in 1909, he was a shoe-in for at least 160 hits and an OPS+ over 150. His 54.4 WAR is the most amongst all Red Sox centerfielders.
Left Field – Ted Williams (1939 – 1942, 1946 – 1960)
.344/.482/.634, 191 OPS+, 122.1 bWAR, 2654 H, 521 HR, 1839 RBI
Hall of Fame (1966), Two-time MVP, Two-time Triple Crown, 19-time All-Star, 6 Batting Titles
The Splendid Splinter, what more can you say? The last man to hit over .400 in a single season, the franchise record for offensive WAR in a season, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, runs scored, walks, OPS+, and runs created. Anytime you can beat out the likes of Carl Yastrzemski and Manny Ramirez, you must be quite the ballplayer.
Designated Hitter – Manny Ramirez (2001 – 2008)
.312/.411/.588, 155 OPS+, 33.2 bWAR, 1232 H, 274 HR, 868 RBI
2004 World Series MVP, Seven-time All-Star, Six-time Silver Slugger Award Winner, 2002 Batting Title
David Ortiz may seem like the obvious choice here. Well, consider that Ramirez may be the most gifted right-handed hitter in the history of the game and this gives him the edge over Ortiz. This was another decision that came down to the wire, but Ramirez’s overall hitting prowess was just too much to ignore.
Starting Pitcher – Pedro Martinez (1998 – 2004)
2.52 ERA, 190 ERA+, 2.45 FIP, 0.978 WHIP
Hall of Fame (2015), Two-time Cy Young Award Winner, Four-time All-Star, 1999 All-Star Game MVP
Yes, there is Roger Clemens but Martinez might have pitched the two best seasons in MLB history while donning a Red Sox uniform (1999-00). Also when you consider that he did this during the height of the steroid era, it makes his tenure in Boston even more legendary. If you want to get a glimpse of just how amazing Pedro was during this time just watch him work during the 1999 All-Star game, and oh boy that changeup!
Roger Clemens- (1984 – 1996)
3.06 ERA, 144 ERA+, 1.158 WHIP, 2.94 FIP, 80.8 bWAR
1984 AL Rookie of the Year, 3- time Cy Young Award Winner, 1986 AL MVP, 5-time All-Star
Cy Young – (1901 – 1908)
2.00 ERA, 147 ERA+, 0.970 WHIP, 2.08 FIP 64.5 bWAR
1937 Hall of Fame Inductee
Jonathan Papelbon (2016-2018)
219 Saves, 2.33 ERA, 197 ERA+, 1.018 WHIP, 16.2 bWAR
Terry Francona (2004 – 2011)
744-552 record, Two-time World Series Champion (2004 & 2007)
Ranking second in franchise history in wins, Terry Francona did the unthinkable as he led the 2004 squad to the curse-breaking championship that sent shockwaves throughout the sports world. During his tenure, he had plenty of experience managing big personalities, so that would make him a great fit in handling a team like this.
DH/1B David Ortiz
LF Carl Yastrzemski
2B Dustin Pedroia
SP Lefty Grove
Carlton Fisk, Jason Varitek, Jimmie Foxx, Bobby Doerr, Dustin Pedroia, Nomar Garciaparra, Xander Bogaerts, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Wade Boggs, Rafael Devers, Mookie Betts, Dwight Evans, Tris Speaker, Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, Pedro Martinez, Roger Clemens, Jonathan Papelbon, Bob Stanley, Craig Kimbrel, Terry Francona