Red Sox History: A fan's all-time Red Sox defensive team

Boston Red Sox
Boston Red Sox / Kidwiler Collection/GettyImages
1 of 10

A personal all-time Red Sox defensive team

The just-concluded 2023 season was not a glorious 162 games for the Boston Red Sox defensively, as they ranked 14th in the American League. This positioning is not an outlier, as Boston invariably has "issues" on that side of the ball these days.

This century showed that victory can be won with poor defense, as the 2004 team finished 13th. In 2007, Boston was third, followed by fifth in 2013 and second in 2018. The 2023 team had only one qualifier for a Gold Glove - Alex Verdugo, whose days in Boston were long rumored to be kaput before the Sox finally pulled the trigger in early December.

I have followed Boston baseball since 1952, so I have some opinions on my all-time Red Sox defensive lineup. Defensive evaluation tools have advanced dramatically in the last 20 years, with the ever-defining metrics leading the charge. In those "old days," it was usually quite basic to the eyeball test -- or, in other words, Luis Aparicio would have caught it and Don Buddin would not.

The slightly older me realized the importance of range, the cascade of signs signaling the defense to what pitch, quickness, speed, the ability not to get your double-play partner killed, fielding percentage, covering outfield gaps, and when to throw to what base with some ability to get a customer bonked with an errant throw. Much is more straightforward today with the metrics certifying or rejecting and even blending that eyeball test.

So, I will go through my lineup, and with the lineup is the usual array of Gold Glove Award (GG) winners - an award that first surfaced in 1957 and was, for years, skewed by popularity and offensive numbers rather than pure defense.