Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Red Sox Solo All Stars

Growing up in the early 1990's, the Boston Red Sox were not real great, so the All Star Game was one of my favorite events of the season.  It was a chance to see some of my favorite players on a national stage.  I am not as thrilled by the All Star Game as I used to be, but I still enjoy watching it.

One of the rules that I always thought was interesting was the rule that said every team had to be represented.  I am not sure if all All Star Games have that rule, but it has always been an aspect that I have enjoyed.  I think it is important so that all fans have someone they can watch.  But it has lead to some bizarre choices at times.  Players like Mark Redman, Derrick Turnbow, Mike Williams, and others have been their teams only representatives and were odd, to say the least.  But not all sole representatives have been that regrettable.  Some have been superstars that have been an All Star many times.  Some have been players having great seasons for bad teams.

I thought it would be interesting to look at the Red Sox players who have been the only All Star for the team that game (some years there were two All Star Games).  I have created four categories for the solo All Star: Superstars who have been frequent All Stars, fan favorites, players having one fantastic season, and players who did not deserve to be All Stars.

These are players who were terrific players and it is not embarrassing at all for them to be the sole Red Sox representative.
David Ortiz (2012)
2012 was a bad year for the Red Sox, as most seasons in which Boston had only one All Star were.  But 2012 was especially bad.  A number of high profile players were not producing, but Ortiz was.  Ortiz of course was one of the best hitters in the game and has been an All Star ten times.  He was on the verge of a terrific season, unfortunately he went down with an injury quickly in the second half.
Manny Ramirez (2001)
Manny came over to the Red Sox as a very high profile free agent prior to the 2001 season.  He had been an All Star with Cleveland four times already.  He would go to eight All Star Games with the Red Sox.  He was really their only choice as Nomar Garciaparra and Pedro Martinez both went down with injuries for most of the year and Jason Varitek broke his elbow the month before, or he might have gone.
Nomar Garciaparra (1997)
It was Nomar's rookie season, but what a rookie season it was.  Nomar had one of the greatest rookie seasons of all time, leading the league in hits and triples while hitting over .300, blasting 30 home runs, and stealing 22 bases.  And all of this from the leadoff spot.  It may have been his rookie year, but it was clear Nomar was a star.  He would picked for five All Star games with the Red Sox, and one with the Dodgers.  Mo Vaughn was injured for a big chunk of the 1997 season and Nomar was the only real choice.
Mo Vaughn (1996)
It is mostly forgotten now, but Mo Vaughn was a huge star at the time.  He was coming off of an MVP season in 1995, and he was possibly even better in 1996, hitting more than 40 home runs for the first time and hitting well over .300.  Vaughn was an All Star three times for Boston, but may have gone to more had first base not been such a loaded position in the American League at the time.

These are players that are good, occasionally great, but always favorites of the fans.  These players are also not embarrassing.
Dwight Evans (1981)
I believe Evans belongs in the Hall of Fame.  Even so, Evans was not really a superstar, particularly at this point in time, and he was only an All Star three times.  The big Red Sox stars were Carl Yastrzemski and Jim Rice.  Evans was en route to tying for the league lead in home runs and walks.  He was always a good player and was known to hit 20 home runs and win the Gold Glove.  Evans was Boston's best choice that season, but Carney Lansford should have gone, as he was on his way to winning the batting title.
Pete Runnels (1962)
Runnels won the batting title in 1960 and was on his way to winning it in 1962 as well.  He was Boston's sole representative in the second All Star Game of the 1962 season.  The early 1960's were bleak times for Boston.  Ted Williams had already retired and Carl Yastrzemski had not fully developed into a star at the time.  There were not really any better options that season.  Runnels would be an All Star three times as well for Boston.
Bill Monbouquette (1962)
The first All Star game in 1962 did not go much better for Boston as only Monbo was picked.  Monbouquette top starting pitcher in the early 1960's and went to three games for the Red Sox himself.  1962 was not his best year, but he did end up winning 15 games with a 3.33 ERA and pitched a no hitter.  He also lost 13 but that can be more attributed to how bad the team was, rather than an indictment of Monbouquette.
Rick Ferrell (1933-1934)
Yes, Ferrell is in the Hall of Fame, but I will still not go so far as to suggest that he was a superstar player.  Ferrell had been one of the first major acquisitions by Tom Yawkey after taking over the team.  He was picked up during the season from the Browns and was Boston's first All Star, and their only representative in the first two games.  Boston had been very bad for a long time and had no other real choices in 1933.  Billy Werber or brother Wes Ferrell could have joined him in 1934 though.  Ferrell was an All Star four times with the Red Sox and twice with the Senators.

These players had a terrific season one time, but never again.  Again, this is not an embarrassment.
Don Schwall (1961)
Schwall was the Rookie of the Year in 1961 and was the team's only All Star in the second game of the year.  Schwall would win 15 games that season and have an ERA of 3.22.  Again the early 1960's were kind of a black hole for Boston.  Runnels could have been an All Star again, but there were not really any other choices to join Schwall.

These players were only named All Stars because the team needed a representative and the way the roster was constructed led to these players.  It is kind of hard to be excited for these players being your team's All Star.
Brock Holt (2015)
It was some creative thinking that led to Brock Holt being Boston's only All Star in 2015.  Holt is a decent enough player, and I really like him, but he is at his best when he is a utility player.  He is a contact hitter that can play a number of positions.  And that is why he was selected.  Ned Yost, manager of the All Star Game, had to pick a Red Sox player and picked Holt for his versatility.  He ended up playing in the outfield in the game.  David Ortiz would have been a more reasonable selection.
Scott Cooper (1993-1994)
I have said before that Scott Cooper is one of the worst players to be named to the All Star Game multiple times.  Cooper was picked by Cito Gaston to be Boston's sole representative in both seasons and it had more to do with a lack of third base options than anything.  In both seasons Mo Vaughn would have been a better selection.  Boston also had decent seasons from Danny Darwin and John Valentin in those years.  Cooper was no more than an average hitter, hitting around .280 both seasons.  His power picked up a little in 1994 as he hit 13 home runs that season, as opposed to 9 in 1993.
Mike Fornieles (1961)
And finally we have yet another solo All Star from one of two games in the early 1960's.  Mike Fornieles had a terrific season as a reliever in 1960, but he was not nearly as good in 1961.  He saved 15 games but had a record of 9-8 and an ERA that ballooned more than two full runs from what it was the previous season.  Relievers frequently appear as the solo All Star for teams.  This was the only year that that happened to Boston.

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