1. Chris Sale (2017 and 2018)
I don’t think there’s any doubt that Chris Sale is the most talented pitcher the Red Sox have had over this past decade. His pitching is up there with the very best in franchise history, in terms of how good his stuff actually is.
The only problem there’s been with Sale is his injury woes. These injuries have come frequently and they’ve disgruntled what has otherwise been one of the best pitching displays in Red Sox history.
The other great pitching seasons we’ve seen over the past decade have been great, yes, but Sale is on another level when he’s ready to go and 100% healthy. His performances have been reminiscent of Pedro, and it’s just a real shame that we haven’t been able to see more than we have. Anyway, some of the starts that we have seen are among the most incredible phenomenons in baseball.
Sale came to Boston in a trade which saw a number of prospects sent to the White Sox. His 2017 and 2018 seasons showed him to be the best in the game. His first season with the Red Sox saw him almost break the franchise strikeout record. He finished the year with 308, just five shy of Pedro’s best effort.
Sale finished the 2017 season with a 2.90 ERA and led the league in FIP with 2.45. He was un-hittable during so many outings. A 12.9 K/9 was what opposing hitters had to deal with, a category in which Sale led the entire majors in. Sale finished ninth in MVP voting and second in Cy Young voting to Corey Kluber of the Indians.
From 2012 to 2018, Sale finished in the top six for the Cy Young award every season. He’s been extremely unlucky not to get at least one. He’s more than worthy of it anyway.
What Sale has got though is a World Series title in the bag. He had just as good a season in most aspects the following year, as he was the driving force from the mound in getting the Sox another World Series title.
Sale’s ERA improved to 2.11 on the year and a 0.861 WHIP shows just how dominant his innings were once again.
The iconic moment of this season, for both Sale and the Sox was his sliding strikeout of Manny Machado in the final game of the World Series, which proved to be the decisive out. The image of Sale and catcher Christian Vazquez embracing as the entire bench runs out onto the field will live long in the memories of Sox fans everywhere.
Sale is among the best of the best. Let’s just pray that his injuries troubles can stop, and he can get back to his best for this transitional Sox side going forward. He’s an ace, but he’s also a leader and his guidance will go a long way on and off the field in the near future.