Red Sox: Remembering the brilliance of Nomar Garciaparra
By Hunter Noll
The Boston Red Sox enjoy a storied history of Hall of Fame players. Despite not making it into the Hall, Nomar Garciaparra stands near the top.
It’s amazing how easy it is to have an idea get stuck in your head. No matter how hard you try, nothing can seem to shake it.
For me, this phenomenon happened when I saw a tweet from Sox Signatures with a challenge.
Build a team with $30 or less, using that pool of Boston Red Sox players, past and present. The situation is basically a one-game playoff. What team would you build using those $30?
Of course, the best players at each position were the most expensive. So you aren’t going to see a team with Pedro Martinez and Jonathan Papelbon pitching while David Ortiz and Ted Williams mash at the plate and Carlton Fisk sets up behind it.
Nevertheless, there are still some great lineups to be made.
I found myself making tons of different lineups and arguing with myself over which one was the best.
I had at least one combination that featured the most expensive player at each position. Easily the most common man in my lineups was Nomar Garciaparra.
There could be a few reasons for this.
First, you could look at it and say that shortstop had one of the biggest drop-offs from the top spot. For example, left field has Ted Williams worth $5 and Carl Yastrzemski for $4. Jim Rice is in the Hall of Fame and you could get him for $3 at that position. At first base Kevin Youkilis gets you fantastic production for $3, and who wouldn’t be comfortable with Jon Lester in a big game for just $2?
Then you could argue that I grew up on Garciaparra. He was the Golden God of Boston sports in the late-90s and early-2000s (i.e. my childhood). So you could say, I’m partial to him.
Finally, there’s the reason I’m going with – he was that good.
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Garciaparra never had a season in Boston in which he hit under .300 when recording 100-plus at-bats.
In his rookie campaign in 1997, the shortstop slashed .306/.342/.534. Garciaparra racked up 209 hits and scored 122 times. It was also his worst (full) season in a Red Sox jersey.
The Red Sox career of Garciaparra saw him slash .323/.370/.553 with 709 runs scored and 690 runs batted in over 966 games. He mashed over 500 extra-base hits and stole 84 bases all while playing fantastic defense at shortstop.
Injuries severely shortened what should’ve been a Hall of Fame career for Garciaparra. In fact, at first glance, you’d still expect him to be in. A .313/.361/.521 line is absolutely incredible after all. His body kept him away from the plate though, which meant his runs scored (927) and RBI (936) just didn’t have enough time to build more impressive resumes.
Instead, Red Sox fans are left trying to remind everyone else just how good No. 5 was.
Sure, the first two reasons might be mixed in a little bit. This position isn’t as stacked, which makes taking Garciaparra easier.
At the same time, I might be a little biased. Try telling young Hunter wearing No. 5 in Little League and doing a spot-on Nomar impression at the plate (ritual included) that he isn’t one of the best shortstops ever and see what happens.
Just don’t say I didn’t warn you if young Hunter tries to hit you with some Sweet Chin Music.
No matter how you look at it though, Nomar Garciaparra was nothing short of brilliant. You were always confident when he stepped up to the plate, almost knowing the Red Sox were about to have someone on base.
Although his first stint in Boston didn’t end in the most storybook way possible, with his career behind him, it’s all memories now. Garciaparra gave Red Sox fans plenty of great years. They loved him for it, and he loved them back.
Next: Red Sox Predictions: Who will be the closer in 2019 if Craig Kimbrel leaves?
What would your $30 team look like? Is there anyone you absolutely can’t keep out of the lineup? Feel free to leave your comments below. You can tweet me or shoot me an email as well. I’m more than happy to hear why I’m stupid for backing Garciaparra so hard.