1967: SP Lee Strange
The 1967 Red Sox was defined by the success of two players. On offense, it was all about Carl Yastrzemski, as his Triple Crown season and torrid September carried the Red Sox to the AL pennant. On the mound, it was Jim Lonborg’s Cy Young season that anchored the pitching staff. The problem with having two players having legendary seasons, however, is that it overshadows the contributions of the rest of the team.
One of the players whose achievements got lost was Lee Strange. If you ask the average Red Sox fan today about Strange, they probably wouldn’t know who he was. Yet after Lonborg, Strange was arguably the most valuable pitcher on the team.
A journeyman for the first six years of his career, Strange’s first two months with the Red Sox were more of the same. Pitching sparingly out of the bullpen, he had a mediocre 4.67 ERA through May.
The Red Sox, toiling along at 22-20, made the bold move to put Strange in the rotation at the beginning of June, and he took off. From June 4 on, Strange pitched to a 2.57 ERA over 24 starts, providing much-needed stability behind ace Lonborg and helping the Red Sox storm back in the pennant race.
Strange failed to have much of an impact in the World Series, pitching just two innings of relief in the Red Sox’s seven-game loss to the Cardinals. Still, with the Red Sox clinching the pennant on the last day of the season, there is no question that this storybook season would not have happened without Strange.