Boston Red Sox: No-Hitting Opponents Since 2000


With the incredible performance by Josh Beckett on Monday, I began to think about the history of Red Sox no-hitters. In the projected starting rotation to begin the 2010 season, 2 of the 5 pitchers have accomplished the feat in a Sox uniform, both while in their mid-20’s. Since 2000 there have only been 14 complete game no-hitters and 4 of those have been thrown by Red Sox pitchers.In that same span of time, only 2 other teams have had multiple no-hitters thrown, the Florida Marlins (2) and the Chicago White Sox (2).

Complete game no-hitters are one of the rarer feats in the game of baseball. It takes perfect command of all pitches, at least one spectacular defensive play, some luck, and pitch efficiency. Most pitchers would be happy to have one of those qualities on any given night, but Hideo Nomo, Derek Lowe, Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester were able to deliver the complete package. The impressive string of no-hitters is a new phenomenon in Boston during the 21st century, after many years without this level of success.

Hideo Nomo’s complete game no-hitter on April 4th, 2001 was the first no-hitter for the Red Sox organization since 1965 when Dave Morehead no-hit the Cleveland Indians. On 84 different occasions during the 36-year drought, a major league pitcher threw a no-hitter. Those numbers point out how difficult and rare the accomplishment is and how impressive the Red Sox staff has been in the 21st century to have been witness to 29% of all the no-hitters thrown in the MLB.

In my mind, the most telling stat is that 2 of the 4 Red Sox complete game no-hitters since 2000 were thrown by 22 year-old Clay Buchholz and 24 year-old Jon Lester. It speaks volumes for the Red Sox scouting system and minor league development program that 2 extremely young pitchers can emerge on the major league scene and have the ability to immediately have a huge impact on the game. If you factor in former Red Sox farm-hand, Anibal Sanchez, who threw a no-hitter with the Marlins the year after being traded from the Sox at age 22, it is impossible to ignore the unrivaled success of the Red Sox system.

One of the many people behind the scenes helping to make the organization’s player development program a success is Ben Cherington. Many may remember his name from his brief stint as the co-GM of the Red Sox (with Jed Hoyer) when Theo Epstein stepped down. Ben has been with the Sox organization since he was hired by everyone’s favorite GM, Dan Duquette in 1997 and has played a crucial role in improving and growing the player development program for the Red Sox. His vision and commitment guided the program to new, unthinkable heights.

After Cherington was promoted to VP of Player Personnel in 2006, Mike Hazen came over from the Indians organization to fill Cherington’s role as the Director of Player Development and has continued to improve the already high standard of excellence. The Red Sox minor league system is always stocked with talent, as are many other organizations, but very few are able to continually produce the type of young talent that is ready to succeed at the major league level when called upon.

Of the 39 players on the current Red Sox active roster, 14 (36%) were drafted by the Red Sox over the past 10 years. Of those 14 players, 8 or 9 will most likely start the year with the Sox, with the potential for 1 or 2 more to make an appearance at some point during the season, or at least after September 1st when rosters expand. These players have developed the skills in the minor league system to not only be able to contribute at the major league level, but also to succeed in the big leagues.

The number of complete game no-hitters a team has thrown is not the most scientific or accurate way to determine whether the team will be successful or not, but it certainly shows a strong commitment to excellence beginning with scouting and continuing through to the majors. The Red Sox staff has done a stellar job in all facets of the player development and consequently has made the entire organization stronger, from A-ball onward. After years of success, there is no end in sight, thanks to the hard work of the Red Sox staff.