1995 was another abbreviated season as the strike continued to early in the year. Replacement players reported to Spring Training, some of whom would eventually make it back to the Majors later. There was no free agency between the seasons so all of the new players were acquired in trades. Boston was very active on that front as there was a massive overhaul of the team. It was successful as they won the AL East with an 86-58 record under Kevin Kennedy for the first time.
Boston played the juggernaut Indians in the ALDS and were swept in three games.
FIVE FAVORITE PLAYERS
The 1995 AL MVP won the award mostly due to the fact that he was not a complete asshole like Albert Belle who actually had vastly superior numbers. Vaughn was probably elected the MVP due to his intangibles more than his numbers, though he certainly had good numbers. Vaughn hit .300/.388/.575 with 39 home runs and tied for the league lead for RBIs with 126. He also shockingly stole 11 bases in 1995.
As good as Vaughn was, Valentin was probably better, certainly because he played a tougher position. Valentin hit .298/.399/.533 with 27 home runs and 102 RBIs. He also stole 20 bases becoming the first Red Sox 20/20 man since Ellis Burks. He was also very good defensively. He lead the Majors in WAR in 1995, which was not really a thing at that time. It was a terrific season that has mostly gone unnoticed. He did win the Silver Slugger and finished ninth in the MVP race. Had it happened around this time, he may have won it.
Clemens did not have a great year in 1995. He was injured the first part of the year and he did finish the year with a 10-5 record. He also struck out 132 batters in 140 innings pitched, but his ERA was a decidedly unimpressive 4.18. It was a good thing that Boston had other pitchers to pick up the slack.
After years of being so close to cracking the starting lineup, Naehring finally got a chance to prove himself in 1995. He became the full-time third-baseman after the trade of Scott Cooper to the Cardinals and instantly responded. Naehring hit .307/.415/.448 with ten home runs and 57 RBIs, all the while playing good defense. Naehring looked to be a rising star in 1995.
Greenwell managed to put together a fairly successful season as well. He hit .297/.349/.402 with 15 home runs and 76 RBIs. It was a fairly typical year for the Gator.
Tinsley became the starting center fielder after Otis Nixon was traded away, though he had a couple of threats to his job in the acquisition of Willie McGee and the rise of Dwayne Hosey. His numbers were not bad, but Boston never seemed to totally trust him. He ended the season with a .284/.359/.402 line and seven home runs, not bad numbers for a leadoff hitter. He also stole 18 bases.
My young mind was blown when Boston traded for Jose Canseco, one of the biggest stars I was aware of when I started watching baseball. And he was not that far removed from those days. Canseco struggled through some injuries but put up some big numbers when he was healthy. He ended the year with a .306/.378/.556 line with 24 home runs and 81 RBIs.
Wakefield had been a success for the Pirates in 1992 but struggled the next couple of years. He was a low-risk, high-reward reclamation project. It definitely paid off in 1995 as Wakefield finished third in the Cy Young race and 13th in the MVP race. He struggled a bit down the stretch, otherwise he would have won the Cy Young. He finished the season 16-8 with a 2.95 ERA and 119 strikeouts, a great season for the knuckleballer.
Hanson started out the season as the most reliable Red Sox starter and quietly put together a very good season. He was named to the All Star team for the first time, though he never pitched in the game. He finished the year 15-5 with a 4.24 ERA and 139 strikeouts.
Another low-risk, high-reward signing, O'Leary was waived by the Brewers and picked up when Mark Whiten was struggling. O'Leary ended up hitting .308/.355/.491 with ten home runs and 49 RBIs. They were not great numbers, but for his first real crack at a Major League job, they were nothing to sneeze at.
FAVORITE MIDSEASON ACQUISITION
1995 was the first year I was really aware of the trading deadline. I realized that Jeff Reardon was traded away and Rob Deer was acquired at the deadlines, but this was the year I really learned about it. Boston was contending but Ken Ryan was failing as a closer, so they sent top prospect Frank Rodriguez to the Twins for Aguilera who ended up compiling 20 saves for the Red Sox and really helped them make the playoffs. Of course he returned to the Twins after the season.
Eshelman had a very good start to his career, winning his first three Major League games, not bad for a Rule V pick. He ended the season with a 6-3 record and a 4.85 ERA. Not bad, but certainly not great numbers for the rookie southpaw.
I had high hopes for Mark Whiten. Two years before, he hit 25 home runs for the Cardinals. He was picked up in the trade for Scott Cooper. Both Cooper and Whiten disappointed for their new teams. Whiten was hurt a lot and ended up hitting only .185/.239/.241 with just one home run in 32 games. He was eventually traded for Dave Hollins who played just five games for Boston.
Sele pitched on Opening Day and was expected to bust loose for the Red Sox after two decent seasons to start his career. Unfortunately he was shut down with a season-ending injury early on and only ended up pitching in six games for the Red Sox in 1995.
Alicea had a decent year all the way around in 1995 but he really shined in the ALDS. He had six hits in only ten at-bats and also had two walks, ending up with a line of .600/.667/1.000. He also had a home run, a double, and an RBI. Boston had a miserable ALDS, but it was not Alicea's fault.
Vaughn was quite frankly, terrible in the 1995 ALDS. He did not have a single hit and struck out seven times in 14 at-bats. Miserable numbers that did not help the team at all.