Boston Red Sox: Most overrated players in franchise history
By Drew Athans
As with all of the players on this current list, Tim Wakefield was a player who was well liked by a huge portion of the fanbase, so much so that he’s become overrated and remembered in many ways for being far better than he really was. Again, this is no way, shape, or form saying he wasn’t good, just that how good he was has been overblown in the years since he retired.
After spending the first two seasons of his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Wakefield was cut and didn’t play in the majors in 1994 before being signed by the Red Sox. He went on to spend the rest of his career, until 2011, in Boston and helped the team win two World Series titles in 2004 and 2007.
Being a knuckleball pitcher, Wakefield’s two biggest strengths were his durability (very little wear and tear on the arm) and his versatility (he could start or come out of the bullpen). He amassed a 200-180 career record, with a record of 186-168 as a member of the Red Sox. He’s third on the all-time franchise wins list behind Roger Clemens and Cy Young and first on the list of innings pitched with 3006.
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However, a closer look at the numbers shows that while he was very good, he wasn’t as great as so many Red Sox fans have believed both during and after his career. His highest win total in a season was 17 and he only broke the 15-win barrier four times in 17 seasons. He had 8 seasons with a sub-.500 W-L record and 14 seasons with an ERA above 4.00 (five of which were over 5.00).
Wakefield had 11 seasons of both double-digit wins and double-digit losses (but not always in the same season) and 11 seasons where he gave up 20 or more home runs (four of which he gave up 30 or more homers). And while he was durable and made 30 more more starts 7 times, he only pitched over 200 innings in a season 5 times.
To be fair, a lot of the discrepancy in numbers is due to Wakefield being a knuckleball pitcher; when they’re on, they’re unhittable, but when they’re off, it’s like they’re pitching batting practice. Still, while he was solid and dependable for a very long time and a fan favorite due to his calm and kind demeanor, he was an above average knuckleball pitcher who has been overrated by Red Sox fans.