I’m not sure how the topic came up. But, at some point recently, a buddy of mine and I started wondering what the Red Sox all ring winning team would be. You know, it’s one of those tangents people get on during discussions sometimes. I thought it might be fun to see what that team might look like.
The first question that needs to be answered before starting an exercise like this is, what qualifies someone to be on the team? I think the original topic was something along the lines of best World Series performers. But, does that mean the players who performed the best during the World Series? Is that a lifetime award? What about Someone like Manny Ramirez who had one great World Series as part of an amazing career. Does he lose out to someone like Jacoby Ellsbury who had two World Series trips to star in? What about Jake Peavy? A wonderful pitcher with a long career, who didn’t have the best trip to the Series.
So, I decided to just go with career. Overall. The best players to ever win a ring with the Sox. The all-ring team. Maybe one day I’ll try an all-World Series Championship team. But, that’s for another time.
So, who do I think is the best team you can make up of players who won a ring by playing in a World Series game with the champion Red Sox? I’m glad you asked.
OK. You didn’t ask. But here’s my answer anyway.
DH: David Ortiz. Let’s start with the easy one. He’s the only DH to play for a World Series champion Red Sox team. He might later be the only full-time DH in the Hall of Fame. End of discussion.
C: Jason Varitek. Not much more difficult. But, there’s at least some competition. Sort of. I don’t think TEK would be scared of Saltalamacchia or Sam Agnew. But, they’re there.
1B: Kevin Youkilis. The Red Sox have had a surprising lack of depth at first on their World Series winners. As much as I want to go with Stuffy McInnis for comedic value alone, it has to be one of the modern guys. So, is it Youk or Napoli? I think it’s safe to say that Youkilis had the better career. Barely. So far.
2B: Dustin Pedroia. I promise you, the early championship teams had some good players. But, best I can tell Pedroia is the only World Champion Red Sox second baseman with an MVP award on his shelf.
SS: Orlando Cabrera. Seriuosly, how did the Red Sox win eight titles but still have their best shortstop be Cabrera? But, it’s not Drew or Lugo. (Maybe one day this will be Bogaerts?) And, no offense to Everett Scott, but how he won three rings with the Sox is beyond me. So, I go with OC.
3B: Jimmy Collins. Welcome to the team 1903 champs! Honestly, someone like Mike Lowell could make a pretty strong argument. But, Collins is in the Hall of Fame, so I don’t care to think about it anymore.
OF: Manny Ramirez, Tris Speaker, Babe Ruth. Basically Ruth and Speaker might be more obvious choices than anyone but Ortiz. The only possible reason you’d have to exclude either of them is if you argue over the selection rules. Ruth played in three World Series with the Red Sox, but only played in the outfield in one of them…in two games. So, he’d be the closest to not making it, but only on a technicality. The only question with Ramirez is if a Hall of Famer like Harry Hooper would beat out a non-Hall of Famer. But, it’s hard to argue against Ramirez’s career numbers. He gets the spot.
SP: Cy Young, Pedro Martinez. That’s it. I’ll have Young go games 1,3,4,5,7 and Pedro go games 2 and 6. Sound like a plan? Honestly, I narrowed it down to a top ten. From there, as much as I want to include Babe Ruth, his career as a pitcher wasn’t quite long enough. (Although, if it was based solely on performance in the World Series itself, he’d be an automatic inclusion.) Same with Smoky Joe Wood. If this was based solely on time with the Red Sox, he’d be hard to ignore. He was THAT good in 1912. Jake Peavy has that Cy Young, but not sure he really had enough of a career other than that. Lackey never even won the Cy Young. Curt Schilling has to be on the team. He’s the closest of the bunch to being a Hall of Famer. So, that leaves me with Tim Wakefield, Josh Beckett, and Jon Lester for two spots. So, I’m dropping Lester because his career is just too short. Final answer: Cy Young, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Tim Wakefield, Josh Beckett.
CL: Jonathan Papelbon. Can I use Cy Young here? I really wanted to go with Keith Foulke here. But, I think Papelbon has had a more sustained career as a closer. You really can’t go wrong with either one, though.
So, there’s my team.
Who makes it on yours?