The all-time Boston Red Sox starting nine


Last week, Red Sox fan Adam 12 of Radio BDC concocted a list of Red Sox greats from every era and assigned fans the task of picking an all-time Red Sox starting nine.

To quote 12:

"Here’s the concept: you have $30 to build your starting nine. You choose one player at each position, each player has a set dollar value, and you can’t go over the $30 limit."

So, without further ado, here’s my stab at it. The list of players and dollar values is located on the Radio BDC website here.

Pitcher – Pedro Martinez – $3

So you’ve got a guy with a trophy named after him (Cy Young), then one of the greatest power pitchers of all-time in Roger Clemens? I’ll take the virtuoso, the master craftsman, the guy with the pocket rocket who put up Cy Young numbers in the Steroid Era. For a mere $3. Getting Pedro as a bargain allows me to assemble a downright scary lineup while having one of the most dominant pitchers ever on the hill.

Catcher – Jason Varitek – $4

Pudge Fisk should be the easy choice here as this isn’t exactly a deep position — though Rich Gedman summered in my hometown of Dennis, MA, I’m not going to pick him for my all-time Red Sox team. I went with Varitek as a less-expensive alternative to Fisk. The arm strength isn’t exactly great behind the plate, but he’s a switch hitter with good pop (average 162-game season: .256/20/79) and he was behind the plate for four no-hitters. I’m OK with it.

First base – Mo Vaughn – $3

It’s tempting to take a block of granite in Jimmie Foxx (look at those numbers), or the greatest clutch hitter of all-time (if such a metric exists) in David Ortiz. But Vaughn, at least during his Red Sox tenure, was capable of bringing holy hell upon opposing pitchers. He won the ’95 MVP but was arguably at his best in ’96, hitting .326 with 44 homers and 143 RBI. In ’98, he challenged for the batting title right down to the final day of the season, finishing at .337 (second to Bernie Williams) and bopping 40 homers in the process. I’ll take the Hit Dog for $3 and put him right in the middle of the order.

Second base – Dustin Pedroia – $4

I was tempted to take Pete Runnels here; he thrived at Fenway and won two batting titles with the Sox in the early 60’s. But I’ll spend the extra buck on the Muddy Chicken. Pedroia boasts five tools, a flair for the dramatic, and is a born leader. I thought about hitting Pedey second ahead of Nomar, but in my righty-dominated lineup, he moves down to serve as a spark plug at the bottom of the order.

Third base – Wade Boggs – $5

I’ll slot Boggs right into the #2 hole. Talk about an on-base machine. With Boggs and Garciaparra, my lineup has two of the greatest contact hitters in team history, back to back. That alone is worth paying the $5.

Shortstop – Nomar Garciaparra – $4

Rico Petrocelli was a tough omission: a guy with historical production at the shortstop position in an era when it wasn’t expected. In this exercise, he’s a great value if you’d like to upgrade elsewhere (say, to Fisk or Ortiz). But Nomar looks absolutely terrifying in this lineup. In his prime, Nomar absolutely carried the Red Sox offense; just imagine how effective he would be surrounded by Boggs, Vaughn, and the next guy on our list?

Left field – Manny Ramirez – $2

Left field, to me, really stood out as an opportunity for a bargain. You have three Hall of Famers available in Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski and Jim Rice. But with Manny Ramirez for a mere $2, you have arguably the most complete right-handed hitter of all-time — he could hit anything, to all fields, and do so with power. He won two World Series championships and was MVP of one. My cleanup hitter is a steal for $2.

Center field – Dom DiMaggio – $3

Fred Lynn was too injury-prone, and after spending lots of cash up the middle, I have to save some money. I’ll take The Little Professor. A seven-time All-Star despite losing three seasons of his prime to World War II and a borderline Hall of Famer, DiMaggio twice led the Majors in runs scored, once in triples and once in steals during an era when the technique was under-utilized. I’m sticking DiMaggio right at the top of my order to get on base and swipe some bags. With a career line of .298/.383/.419, I’m confident he’ll be able to do that.

Right field – Tony Conigliaro – $2

It’s tempting to take Dewey Evans and his huge arm, or Rick McNair favorite Jackie Jensen, but I’ll take Tony C. here. There’s no question he would have gone down as one of the all-time greats had his career not been derailed at age 22 by a Jack Hamilton fastball to the face. The second-youngest player in history to 100 home runs (behind Mel Ott), Tony C. is a perfect fit at the sixth spot in my lineup.

$30 Lineup:

($3) DiMaggio – R – center field 1940-42, 46-53
($5) Boggs – L – third base 1982-92
($4) Garciaparra – R – shortstop 1996-2004
($2) Ramirez – R – left field 2001-2008
($3) Vaughn – L – first base 1991-98
($2) Conigliaro – R – right field 1963-67, 69-70, 75
($4) Varitek – S – catcher 1997-2011
($4) Pedroia – R – second base 2006-present
($3) Martinez – pitcher 1998-2004