Boston Red Sox top 25-man roster in franchise history
By Sean Penney
Starting Pitcher 4
Career Stats: 300 W, 3.06 ERA, 5.18 K/9, 2.71 BB/9, 88.8 WAR
With Red Sox: 105 W, 3.34 ERA, 4.34 K/9, 2.61 BB/9, 34.6 WAR
What would happen to a pitcher that went 108-36 in five seasons at the Triple-A level? In the pitching conscious world of today, anyone who could produce 20+ wins a season while blowing batters away would be ushered to the majors ASAP. For Lefty Grove it was a different era since there was no farm system, so Grove stayed at Baltimore in the International League until the right price was reached and he was sold to the Philadelphia Athletics.
Bypass Grove’s Philadelphia years, but the consensus was Grove was the best pitcher in the game. Seven straight seasons of leading the league in strikeouts, four times in wins and five times in ERA in an age of hitters. And, of course, a Most Valuable Player Award.
Grove became available when the A’s were starting to go broke during the Great Depression and Tom Yawkey’s Red Sox made a “trade” to acquire Grove, with the most notable player sent to the A’s being a check for $125,000.
Grove arrived in spring training of 1934 as the apparent ace of the Red Sox, only to crash and burn with an arm issue that resulted in an 8-8 record. In 1935, Grove – now a stylish curve ball pitcher – recovered to 20-12 and led the league in ERA. Grove would never win twenty again, but did win three more ERA titles and managed to hang on to win his 300th at age 41.
Left-handed pitchers also have a stigma about their dysfunctional behavior patterns that is either real or imagined, but with Grove there was some validity to it. Red Sox manager Joe Cronin and Grove often had “differences of opinion” that was the polite euphemism for confrontations. Volatile behavior was often a Grove trademark – especially in his early career – a temperamental lefty.
Grove was elected to the HOF in 1947 on the first ballot.
Next: Starting Pitcher 5