Boston Red Sox bullpen rankings: Top 21
The Boston Red Sox have had some very good bullpen pitchers over the years and this will be a ranking of the notable ones.
The Boston Red Sox have had their share of relief pitchers through the years that have run the baseball gamut from spectacular to great to mediocre and ending up with: “Lord – take me now so I don’t have to watch this.” When they trudged in I hid under the blankets for fifteen minutes or – if at the game – went to the restroom and listened for the moaning of despair and expletives from the stands.
In baseball today, there are no longer “relief pitchers,” but have various roles such as closer, set-up, bridge and whatever else can be attached to a job description that formerly was for those not talented enough to start. But – to quote Dylan – “The Times They Are A-Changing.”
The Red Sox do have a historical note in the world of relief pitching – the greatest single performance in the annuals of relief and that was a perfect game. Huh? Is Rick off his meds? No, No, Nanette – Babe Ruth was a rather volatile player and was pitching for Boston in a game in 1917 and walked the first batter. Ruth got tossed when he discussed the situation a bit vehemently with the umpire. Eddie Shore relieved Ruth, the runner was nabbed stealing, and Shore retired the next 26.
A benchmark for relievers is the save. I will save (pun intended) the illustrious history of the save so that the reader can examine on that notoriously dependable baseball source – Wiki. The save, therefore, is somewhat of a misleading stat when taking into the context of the times. Apparently in baseball today, one is awarded a save for warming up with clean underwear – not sure who inspects.
The context of the times is of interest. The 1903 team had six pitchers and five of them won all 91 games. The save total was four. The 1912 championship team had five saves. By 1946, that total was up to 20 saves and in 2013 – our latest success – the save total was 33. But it is not all about the save, as some real quality bullpen operatives had just a few.
There is not a specific rubric for me to follow. I will certainly give some extra kudos when a serious work of baseball art emanates from a spectacular season and that usually has a WS banner attached. Longevity is important as is the body of baseball work in Boston, and this is purely subjective since the rankings could certainly shift from reader to reader.
The shelf life of a reliever is similar to a gallon of milk (are they liters yet?) that is sitting in the sun on a hot July day. The burn out factor on this type of duty has an extensive list of a few years and gone.
So this is my own top twenty-one. I also will toss in a few honorable mentions, but I will begin with the list of infamy.