Red Sox: Top five most underrated players in team history

NEW YORK - CIRCA 1989: Marty Barrett #17 of the Boston Red Sox throws to first base against the New York Yankees during a Major League Baseball game circa 1989 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. Barrett played for the Red Sox from 1982-90. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - CIRCA 1989: Marty Barrett #17 of the Boston Red Sox throws to first base against the New York Yankees during a Major League Baseball game circa 1989 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. Barrett played for the Red Sox from 1982-90. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) /
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BOSTON, MA – OCTOBER 1967: Jim Lonborg #16 of the Boston Red Sox pitches against the St Louis Cardinals during the World Series in October 1967 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. The Cardinals won the series 4-3. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA – OCTOBER 1967: Jim Lonborg #16 of the Boston Red Sox pitches against the St Louis Cardinals during the World Series in October 1967 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. The Cardinals won the series 4-3. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) /

Jim Lonborg

Nicknamed “Gentleman Jim,” Jim Lonborg was a fierce competitor and a solid pitcher who, for one season, was the best in the American League. In a career that spanned 1965 to 1979, Lonborg spent the first seven years of his career with the Red Sox and was a driving force on the 1967 pennant-winning Impossible Dream team.

Compiling a 68-65 record during his Red Sox career to go along with a 3.94 ERA and 784 strikeouts, Lonborg seemed to come into his own in 1967. After improving from 9-17 in 1965 to 10-10 in 1966, he had a season for the ages in 1967 going 22-9 with a 3.16 ERA and 246 strikeouts (in 39 starts). He led the AL in strikeouts and wins, was an All Star, and won the AL Cy Young award.

After almost single-handedly pitching the Red Sox to the pennant, he was even better in the World Series, going 2-1 with a 2.63 ERA and 11 strikeouts in 24.0 innings pitched. He won Games Two and Five with his only loss in the series coming in Game Seven against the great Bob Gibson. Lonborg looked primed to continue his upward trajectory, but he injured his knee in a skiing accident in the winter of 1967 and was never the same.

After the 1971 season the Red Sox traded Lonborg to the Milwaukee Brewers where he spent the 1972 season before finishing his career after six seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies. After retiring in 1979, he went to Tufts Dental School and was a practicing dentist in Massachusetts until he retired in 2017.