Boston Red Sox top 25-man roster in franchise history

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Jonathan Papelbon

Career Stats: 41 W, 368 SV, 2.44 ERA, 10.0 K/9, 2.30 BB/9, 19.0 WAR
With Red Sox: 23 W, 219 SV, 2.33 ERA, 10.67 K/9, 2.41 BB/9, 13.9 WAR

Who better to place at the back end of the bullpen than the franchise’s all-time leader in saves?

Jonathan Papelbon came up through the Red Sox system targeting a spot in the rotation, but was moved to the bullpen after making only three starts in the big leagues. It didn’t take long for the team to realize that was where he belonged. Papelbon thrived under the pressure of closing the door in the ninth inning, moving into the closer role in his first full season in 2006. He logged 35 saves that season, posting a ridiculous 0.92 ERA and 0.77 WHIP. Papelbon finished as the runner-up in the Rookie of the Year vote while making his first of four straight All-Star appearances.

Eventually Papelbon would wear out his welcome in Boston. His brash demeanor would tend to rub some people the wrong way, so as much as his fiery attitude helped him on the mound, it didn’t always make him popular in the clubhouse. When Papelbon reached free agency after the 2011 season the Red Sox allowed him to walk away. The final memory of Papelbon in a Red Sox uniform would end up being of him giving up the game winning run to seal Boston’s epic September collapse that cost them a playoff spot on the final day of the season.

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The end of his Red Sox tenure may not have been pretty, but it’s not how we should remember Papelbon’s time in Boston. The iconic image of catcher Jason Varitek leaping into his arms after Papelbon struck out the final batter to seal Boston’s 2007 World Series victory will forever symbolize how much he meant to this franchise.