Saturday, November 27, 2010

Feature: Rob Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Lineups


This is one of my favorite baseball books. I can spend a long time on any given day just pouring over it. Unfortunately, it's a little out of date. It was released during the 2003 season and some of the information is even a little older than that. That said, it is a valuable resource.

Well, I recently dug it back out and reviewed the Red Sox information. Since it may be awhile before it gets updated, if ever, I figure I will add to it. I also have a couple of minor quibbles that I wanted to touch on.


DH: Neyer listed Jim Rice. At this point, I think the All-Time DH has to be David Ortiz. The most obvious reason is that Ortiz has played nearly twice as many games as Rice at DH. Of course, Ortiz being a regular DH for his entire career with the Red Sox also means that he has had his best seasons at DH, compared to Rice. I do not even need to discuss stats here, it is just obvious that Ortiz has taken over here.

RP: Neyer listed Dick Radatz here and I will make the argument that with Jonathan Papelbons first five seasons as a closer, that he may be taking over, assuming he continues to pitch well. Last year was not a good year, but Radatz was not nearly as good his last couple of years either. Papelbon was still at least decent last year. Provided he is not traded or continues to decline, it may be time to put Papelbon in this spot.


DH: Neyer listed Carl Yastrzemski. Since Jim Rice fell off the All-Time Team, he will push Yaz back a spot.

C: Neyer listed Wally Schang. Schang was a great catcher, but played for a short amount of time for the Red Sox. I would list Jason Varitek, who has the Red Sox all-time record for games by a catcher and has beaten Carlton Fisk's club record for home runs by a catcher. Fisk was a better all around hitter and better defender, but Varitek is reasonably close, at his peak.

2B: Neyer listed Pete Runnels. Runnels was a better contact hitter than Dustin Pedroia, but Pedroia is pretty great himself and is a better fielder. I think Pedroia takes over here, due in major part to his 2008 AL MVP.

RP: Neyer listed Ellis Kinder. If Papelbon dethrones Radatz on the All-Time Team, then Radatz moves to the No. 2 team and knocks Kinder down a spot.


DH: Neyer listed Jim Rice 1977. Pick a David Ortiz season. I think I will go with 2006, when Ortiz hit 54 home runs and drove in 137 RBIs. His slash line was .287/.413/.636/1.049. 2005 and 2007 are also great choices.

RP: Neyer listed Ellis Kinder 1953. I am inclined to go with Jonathan Papelbon's 2006. 0.92 ERA. Rookie year. Enough said.


2B: Neyer listed Jody Reed 1988. Boston has not had a ton of great rookie second-basemen, but Pedroia did win the Rookie of the Year in 2008 and clearly deserved it. Automatically qualifies based on that.

SS: Neyer listed Johnny Pesky 1942. I have always considered this a bit of a mistake. Pesky had a great 1942, hitting .331 and leading the league in hits with 205. But Nomar Garciaparra also lead the league in hits in 1997, his rookie year, with 209. He also lead the league in triples and whereas his .306 average was not nearly as high as Pesky's, Garciaparra hit 30 home runs, drove in 98 runs, and stole 22 bases. Garciaparra's 1997 season was one of the greatest rookie seasons of all time, it should have been listed.


2B: Neyer listed Jody Reed. For obvious reasons, Dustin Pedroia has taken over here.

RP: Neyer listed Sparky Lyle. I think Papelbon could eventually knock Lyle off the list. I am not sure he is there quite yet though.


I do not have any changes to this team.


RF: Neyer picked Trot Nixon. I never agreed with this one either. I think Dwight Evans was one of the greatest defensive right fielders ever, and Nixon did not have nearly the arm strength Evans had. I think even Neyer has come to change his mind on this.


I do not have any changes to this team.


C: Neyer listed Marc Sullivan. I am not sure Sullivan was a bust. He was never really expected to be a great player. John Marzano was selected in the first round of the 1984 draft, 14th overall, and never developed into even a regular catcher. Javy Lopez was brought in during the 2006 season to bring some stability to the position after Varitek went down with an injury and tanked. I think Marzano should be listed here because of the big expectations and near total letdown. Sorry Mr. Marzano. R.I.P.

CF: Neyer listed Carl Everett. I do not totally disagree, as Everett had a world of talent, but he was great in 2000. He was bad in 2001 and traded for Darren Oliver due to his personality clashes with management. However, Coco Crisp looked to be a big star when he was acquired and never came close to matching his expectations. At least Everett was great one year. Crisp was never even a good player for Boston, outstanding catches notwithstanding.


LF: Neyer listed Al Simmons. I have to go with Rickey Henderson here. Simmons was also a Hall of Famer, but Henderson was one of the greatest of all time.


2B: Neyer listed Pete Runnels, whose first name was really Thomas. Poor Runnels has been completely driven out of this book, because I am going with "Laser Show" Dustin Pedroia.

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