2011 has to go down as one of the most disappointing seasons for me as a Red Sox fan. There was so much promise with that team. And they were leading the division for such a long time, but they utterly collapsed in the final month of the season. The major reason was a lack of pitching depth and fatigue to the starters they had. Whatever the reason, they still had a chance going into the final game of the season. If they won or the Rays lost, they would have been in the postseason and both of those things looked likely heading into the late innings. But the Red Sox blew their game at the end and the Rays mounted an incredible comeback in theirs and Boston went home. The year was also the first (and only) year that Topps was alone in producing baseball cards. Upper Deck was gone. Nevertheless, most Red Sox players were represented on cardboard at some point. A lot of the players that appear on this post appeared on past posts, which is doubly irritating.
As seen on the 2010 post, Atchison had a three-year career with the Red Sox and was one of the most reliable members of the bullpen during that time period. It was a little more excusable for him not to have a card in 2011 as he appeared in just 17 games and 30.1 innings. He improved his ERA though to 3.26 and struck out 17 versus just six walks. He spent most of the season in the minors and performed very well. He had a rough stint in Boston in May and June and was sent to the minors. He was called back to Boston late in the season and was very good down the stretch. Atchison will still appear in another future post in this series.
Back for his second stint in Boston, Joey Gathright had not appeared in the Majors at all since he was on the Red Sox postseason roster in 2009. He was in the Orioles organization to begin the 2011 season and signed with the Red Sox as a free agent in late August. His role was to be much the same as it was in 2009. He was going to be a speedster off the bench a la Dave Roberts in 2004. He appeared in seven games with Boston, but only had one plate appearance, in which he walked. Most of the rest of the time he was either a defensive replacement or a pinch runner. Gathright did steal a base, but he was also caught once. Gathright has not appeared in the Majors since 2011.
Like Atchison, Rich Hill was in his second straight season with the Red Sox. His season ended early as a result of injuries. He appeared in just nine games in May and June. He pitched just eight innings, all in relief, but did not give up a single run and allowed just three hits. He walked three but he struck out 12. Impressive numbers, unfortunately he was not able to stay healthy. That was fairly normal for Hill's time with the Red Sox and is the major reason he has no cards with Boston. Hill does have a minor league card with Pawtucket. Like Atchison again, Hill will appear in future posts in this series.
Once one of the top prospects in the game, Conor Jackson was a former first round pick by the Arizona Diamondbacks and three impressive seasons early on in his career. He was the 19th overall pick by Arizona and had an impressive few seasons from 2006 through 2008. Unfortunately his career stalled after that. The Diamondbacks traded him to Oakland in 2010 and he was traded from Oakland to Boston in 2011 for a minor leaguer at the August trading deadline. Jackson appeared in just 12 games with the Red Sox in September and his hitting struggles continued. He hit just .158/.227/.316 but he did have a home run and five RBIs. Jackson appeared at first, third, right field, and left field for Boston. 2011 was Jackson's final appearance in the Major Leagues, though he attempted to catch on with other organizations.
Part of the trifecta of pitchers who spent multiple seasons with the Red Sox yet have no Major League cards with them, Miller was in his first season with Boston in 2011. The southpaw was acquired in a trade of young left-handed relievers with the Marlins after the 2010 season. Boston gave up Dustin Richardson and clearly won this deal. Miller was the sixth overall pick in the 2006 draft by the Tigers and was traded to the Marlins in the Miguel Cabrera deal. He was mostly disappointing in his Major League career to that point, but he was just 26 years old. Miller was used primarily as a starter for Boston in 2011 and had a mostly inconsistent season. He pitched in 17 games, starting 12, and was 6-3 with an ugly 5.54 ERA. He struck out 50 and walked 41 in 65 innings with a rough 1.815 WHIP. It was not a great season, but Miller would turn things around soon. Miller will appear in a few more posts in this series. He does have a minor league card with Pawtucket.
The award for the shortest stint for players in this post goes to Trever Miller. Miller, no relation to Andrew Miller, was a veteran lefty relief pitcher who first appeared in the Majors in 1996 with the Tigers. Miller appeared with the Tigers, Astros, Phillies, Dodgers, Blue Jays, Devil Rays, Cardinals, and Blue Jays before coming to Boston in 2011. He had a few decent seasons throughout his career but never seemed to be able to stay on track for very long. He started the season with Toronto and was released in late August. He signed with Boston and appeared in three games. He pitched two innings without giving up a hit, a run, or a walk. He struck out one and finished one game. It was Miller's last appearance in the Majors. Interestingly, this was Miller's second stint with the Red Sox organization. He had an ugly 3-11 record with a 5.01 ERA in the minors with Boston in 2001.
The award for the longest tenure prior to coming to the Red Sox goes to Dennys Reyes who was in his 15th season in the Majors in 2011. Reyes was a portly left-hander who pitched for the Dodgers, Reds, Rockies, Rangers, Pirates, Diamondbacks, Royals, Padres, Twins, and Cardinals before joining the Red Sox. He had been a fairly reliable reliever and was 3-1 with a 3.55 ERA for St. Louis in 2010. Reyes broke camp with Boston, but struggled in four appearances. He had a 16.20 ERA in 1.2 innings, striking out one and walking none, but giving up three runs. He did not have a record. Reyes was just 34, so he could have moved on, but he never appeared in the Majors after 2011.
Utility player Drew Sutton was in his third Major League season and his third Major League team in 2011. He had previously been with the Reds and Indians and signed with Boston prior to the 2011 season. He spent most of the season in the minor leagues and had a decent .295/.382/.476 line in Pawtucket. He appeared in 31 games for the Red Sox from May through July and actually had a pretty decent season. Sutton hit .315/.362/.444 with seven doubles and seven RBIs. He scored eleven runs. Sutton appeared in at least one game at every position except pitcher, catcher, right and center field for the Red Sox in 2011. Sutton played the 2012 season with the Rays and Pirates. His 2011 season was the best showing in the Majors of his career.
Being a left-handed pitcher means that you can often continue to find work despite never having an ERA lower than 4.58. Williams never had a successful season, but he kept getting picked up, pitching for the Mariners, Padres, Rockies, and White Sox before making it to Boston in 2011. He was able to strike batters out at an impressive rate, but he had control problems and was often hit hard. Williams appeared in just seven games with the Red Sox in 2011, pitching 8.1 innings with a 6.48 ERA. He struck out six, but walked five. Williams did not appear in the Majors again after 2011.
Dan Wheeler was originally set to appear in this post, but he was saved by having a card in the hard-to-find Japanese Sega Card-Gen set. I don't have it, but would love to add it. Despite the presences of Atchison, Hill, and Miller in 2011, three pitchers who were with Boston for multiple years with some impressive numbers, my pick for the player I most want to see on a card for 2011 is Drew Sutton. Sutton appeared in the most games and had the best numbers of any of the players in this post. He was actually fairly impressive as a utility player. Weirdly, Nate Spears received a card despite appearing in just seven hitless games over two seasons, yet players like Sutton (31 games) and Miller (17 games) never appeared.