Over the past decade, the Sox have had some great outfielders, but only three can make the All-Decade Team. The three selections cover a wide-range of types of players including a lead-off man, a power hitter, and a lower in the line-up model of consistency. Although two of the selections would be booed if they returned to Fenway, all three made great contributions to the history of a storied franchise.
Manny Ramirez, Left Field
Although Manny’s tenure with the Sox ended poorly, his offensive numbers while in Boston were outstanding. From 2001 to the 2008 trade deadline, Manny hit .312 with 274 HR’s and 868 RBI’s, numbers that are almost unbelievable. Along with his partner David Ortiz as a 1-2 punch, Manny powered the Sox to 2 World Series Championships.
Most people will remember Manny’s ridiculous antics including “bathroom” breaks in the green monster, not running to first base, and not sliding into home plate, but when he was giving solid effort, he was one of the greatest offensive players in Red Sox history. Manny worked harder than anyone behind the scenes which allowed him to be a powerful, fairly patient hitter. He rarely allowed pressure situations to affect an at-bat and delivered in the clutch on many occasions.
Manny had great success in 2004, hitting .308 with 43 HR’s and 124 RBI’s. When all was said and done, Manny had a bunch more hardware for his cabinet. He won the World Series MVP trophy, Silver Slugger award, and Hank Aaron award. Love him or hate him, without Manny, the Sox would not have won the World Series in 2004 and then again in 2007.
Johnny Damon, Center Field
As with Manny, most Sox fans hate Damon now, but when he was with the Sox, he provided a spark in the lead-off spot that carried the team to it’s first title in 86 years. Hitting .294 in 4 season with the Sox, Damon provided a solid lead-off hitter with some speed, a type of hitter that the Sox had been missing. In his first two seasons with the Sox (2002, 2003), Damon stole 61 bases and drove in 130 RBI’s, while providing a little pop with 26 HR’s.
Damon had an energetic attitude that was contagious in the locker room, and with his partner in crime Kevin Millar, he created the ‘Idiots’ persona that became so popular in 2003 and 2004. With his long hair and shaggy beard, Damon looked like he a homeless man, but helped his team play relaxed and loose.
Damon left Boston and followed the dollar signs to New York and in the process, began to bad mouth the Nation that once embraced his crazy hair and terrible arm. It truly pains me to put him on the Sox All-Decade team, but his contributions to the 2004 World Series are undeniable. Damon hit 3 big HR’s in the 2004 post-season and had 19 total hits and 5 stolen bases.
Trot Nixon, Right Field
Christopher Trotman Nixon was a staple in right field for the Sox during the late ’90s through ’06. Many times getting forgotten in the lineup because of his solid, but not amazing statistics, Nixon was a consummate professional. He arrived at the park day-in and day-out and gave you 110% on every play, no exceptions. He spent a lot of time doing face dives and slamming into walls. Nixon knew right field at Fenway like the back of his hand.
While playing everyday for the Sox, Nixon hit a hair above .280 with 133 HR’s and 617 RBI’s. He had a career fielding percentage of .983 as a right fielder, and was a model of consistency. Unfortunately for Nixon, his body broke down towards the end of his career with the Sox and then the following two years with the Indians and Mets. He became injury prone and began to struggle at the plate, but will still be fondly remembered by members of Red Sox Nation.
Honorable Mention: Gabe Kapler