The Red Sox are one of the most storied franchises in baseball, and they have a Terrific Ten worthy of that status.
The Boston Red Sox have been around longer than the World Series, so they have a lot of options when it comes to an all-time lineup. The team has won nine championships, retired ten of their own numbers, and have seen plenty of legends call Fenway Park home. When coming up with a list of the best players in franchise history, there are some clear-cut picks, but also some tough decisions.
What does it mean to be the best at a position, though? Of course, statistics are the most important ingredient in this baseball recipe, but it is not the only one. This is not Hall of Fame voting, so there is no character clause. But when talking about a team list, then we consider what players mean to the fanbase and not just how well they played on the field.
All WAR figures only refer to numbers earned with the Red Sox and come from Baseball Reference.
Carlton Fisk spent a majority of his career with the White Sox, but he still played eleven years in Boston. The Hall of Famer won Rookie of the Year and made seven All-Star teams with the Red Sox, accumulating 39.5 WAR in the process. His #27 jersey was retired by the team, and he hit one of the most iconic home runs in baseball history.
Honorable mention: Jason Varitek (whole career in Boston, team captain, two WS, three ASG, 24.2 WAR)
Carl Yastrzemski only moonlighted at first and played most of his career in left field, but that position is reserved for someone else. Managers move players out of position all the time, so we can do the same thing. Yaz spent all 23 seasons with the Red Sox, making 18 All-Star teams, winning seven Gold Gloves, three batting titles, and an MVP award. Not only did he famously win the Triple Crown in 1967, but he also won the slash line triple crown that year. Yaz led the league in OPS four times, as well. He has 96.5 WAR and a retired #8 uniform.
Honorable mention: Jimmie Foxx (HOF, MVP, six ASG, 32.2 WAR)
One of the tougher decisions is second base where Dustin Pedroia and Bobby Doerr have very similar resumes. I am giving the edge to the Laser Show because of how much he means to the Red Sox. Pedey was a team leader and fan favorite playing ever season with the Sox and had many memorable quotes. He is one of only a few players in history to be the MVP one year after winning Rookie of the Year. He also made four All-Star teams, won a Silver Slugger, four Gold Gloves, and two World Series titles. His career WAR of 51.9 gives him an outside shot of making the Hall. His number is not retired, but everyone in Red Sox Nation knows who #15 belongs to.
Honorable mention: Bobby Doerr (HOF, nine ASG, whole career in Boston, 51.5 WAR)
Wade Boggs is one of the best contact hitters ever, and 2098 of his 3010 career hits came with the Red Sox. In those eleven seasons, he made eight All-Star teams, and won six Silver Sluggers and five batting titles. He led the league in on-base percentage six times, and OPS, walks, doubles, and runs twice. The Chicken Man is in the Hall of Fame, and his #26 has been retired.
Honorable mention: Rafael Devers (superstar fan favorite, WS, SS, two ASG, 15.2 WAR so far)
Before becoming the best manager in Red Sox history, Joe Cronin was also a fantastic shortstop. After a great run with the Washington Senators, he played parts of eleven seasons in Boston. In that time, he made four All-Star teams and led the league in doubles in 1938. He hit exactly .300 with the Red Sox and accumulated 27.7 WAR.
Honorable mention: Nomar Garciaparra (fan favorite, ROTY, two batting titles, five ASG, SS, 41.2 WAR)
Ted Williams will always be the very best player in Red Sox history. The last player in the Majors to hit over .400 is also the all-time leader in on-base percentage at .482. The Kid spent his whole career with the Sox, and he led the league in OPS ten times in 19 seasons. He won six batting titles, “only” two MVP awards, had 17 All-Star seasons, and won two Triple Crowns. His career WAR is 122, meaning he averaged over eight per season. Teddy Ballgame is a member of the 500-home run club, and he would have over 3000 hits if not for military service. Williams missed three prime years during World War II, so all of his counting stats would be much higher. Not only is his #9 retired, but there is also a tunnel in Boston named after him.
Honorable mention: Jim Rice (HOF, whole career in Boston, MVP, two SS, eight ASG, 47.7 WAR)
Tris Speaker is more famous for his time in Cleveland, but he played nine seasons with the Red Sox. The all-time leader in doubles led the league in doubles twice with the Sox and also led the league in homers in 1912. That season he won his only MVP award and also led the league in on-base percentage. He played so long ago there were no All-Star games or jersey numbers, but he had 55.8 WAR in Boston and was part of the second Hall of Fame class.
Honorable mention: Fred Lynn (slash line triple crown, MVP, ROTY, six ASG, four GG, 32 WAR)
Dwight Evans played 19 excellent seasons with the Red Sox, winning eight Gold Gloves, two Silver Sluggers, and making three All-Star teams. He led the league in OPS twice, walks three times, and homers, runs, and on-base percentage once. Dewey has a decent chance of making the Hall via committee, and he earned 66.6 WAR in Boston.
Honorable mention: Tony Conigliaro (HOF track before injuries, AS, HR title)
Could it be anyone other than David Ortiz? As famous for his personality as his on-field achievements, Big Papi is the newest member of the Hall of Fame and played a significant role in Reversing the Curse. Across 14 seasons with the Red Sox, he won three World Series titles, World Series MVP, seven Silver Sluggers, the Home Run Derby, and made ten All-Star teams. In his final season, Ortiz led the league in OPS, RBI’s, and doubles while receiving a legend’s send off. In 14 World Series games, he hit .455 with an OPS of 1.372. After the Boston Marathon Bombing, his pregame speech helped heal the city, and now a bridge close to Fenway is named after him, and his #34 has been retired. His 52.7 WAR does not tell the whole story of what Papi achieved.
Honorable mention: J.D. Martinez (WS, two SS, four ASG, 13.1 WAR)
The Red Sox have had many baseball greats take the mound, which makes this the toughest decision. While Roger Clemens was the most dominant pitcher and Pedro Martinez was the most impressive, Cy Young bears the name of the award for best pitcher. Young spent eight seasons with the Boston Americans/Red Sox and won 192 games with a 2.00 ERA before Fenway was even built. His time in Boston spanned the 1901-1908 seasons, when he led the league in WHIP four times, wins and shutouts three times, innings and complete games twice, and ERA once. Young had 64.5 WAR in Boston. He also was a member of the first-ever World Series championships and part of the inaugural Hall of Fame class.
Here is the batting order for the all-time Red Sox:
This lineup absolutely rakes. They would be every pitcher’s nightmare with constant baserunners and power threats. They would still face an uphill battle against the all-time Yankees, but they would probably beat every other team. The bench includes Varitek, Rice, Garciaparra, and Foxx. The Red Sox second team would still be better than most. Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, and Mo Vaughn don’t even make the roster.