Sunday, December 31, 2023

Two Blasters of Update and a Random Throw-In

I have not gotten tired of my new player collection, but I have gotten tired of only getting his cards.  So, I recently decided to grab a couple of blasters of Update on separate days.  Update is one of my favorite releases every year because of some of the completely random, unexpected players to make it in to the set, as well as new players.  In years past, some of the players to appear in Update have been: Adam Ottavino, Josh Taylor, Ryan Weber, Mike Shawaryn, Kyle Martin, Marcus Walden, Doug Fister, Ben Taylor, Hector Velazquez, Jean Machi, Alexi Ogando, Carlos Peguero, Josh Rutledge, Jonathan Herrera, Kelly Johnson, Matt Thornton, Matt Albers, James Loney, Franklin Morales, Bobby Jenks, Darnell McDonald, Eric Patterson, Nick Green, Casey Kotchman, Ramon Ramirez, David Aardsma, Kevin Cash, Kevin Jarvis, Carlos Pena and John Olerud.  Many of those players never appeared in other sets, or if they did, very few.  So every year I look forward to Update.

The first row is the first blaster.  The second row is the second blaster, and then I put a throw-in that did not fit in another post into the scan.

1.  Richard Bleier.  An excellent candidate to join the list of players in the first paragraph, Bleier was acquired in a deal that sent Matt Barnes to the Marlins.  Bleier had long been a successful reliever due to his ability to induce weak contact.  He doesn't strike many batters out and he doesn't walk many batters, he thrives on making batters get themselves out.  Of course, that requires a team that plays good defense and Boston certainly did not qualify in 2023.  He appeared in 27 games with a 5.28 ERA, pitching 30.2 innings (16 strikeouts, five walks).  He was released in August and was signed by the Cubs, but did not appear in a game for them.

2.  Masataka Yoshida.  Of course Yoshida appears in a lot of sets.  He is the largest new player from 2023 in my collection and I do not see any reason why that will change.  He had a largely successful rookie campaign, but wore down in the second half.  Hopefully he will work on conditioning in the offseason and come back refreshed and ready.  Boston needs his bat.

3.  Reese McGuire.  Finally got my first McGuire card and it was a blue foil parallel, which was surprising.  McGuire was acquired in a deadline deal with the White Sox in 2022 for Nebraska native Jake Diekman.  He makes decent contact for a catcher, but has very little power and doesn't walk much.  I am a little surprised he was not non-tendered.  He will enter the 2024 season as the backup catcher.

4.  Rafael Devers.  I initially intended to push Devers to 300 cards in 2023, but that did not happen.  Devers had what was perceived to be a down season in 2023, but he hit .271/.351/.500 with 33 home runs, 34 doubles and 100 RBIs.  I'm happy he is sticking around.  Those numbers are still incredible.

5.  James Paxton.  For awhile it looked like Boston got a steal with Paxton.  He was the team's best pitcher for the first half of the season.  Unfortunately, he wore down as a result of missing most of the last two seasons due to injury and his numbers declined dramatically before he was shut down.  He ended up with a record of 7-5 with a 4.50 ERA in 96 innings pitched (101 strikeouts, 33 walks).  Boston has been mentioned as kicking the tires on a return for him in 2024.

6.  Narciso Crook.  This one is really shocking.  Crook played in four games with the Cubs in 2022 and signed with Boston as a minor league free agent coming in to 2023, but he spent the entire season in the minors.  He never actually played a game with Boston and is a minor league free agent again.  

7.  Jackie Bradley Jr.  Like I said, this was a throw-in from another package, but I put it in this scan because it worked better.  JBJ played with Kansas City in 2023 after splitting the 2022 season with Boston and Toronto.  He hit just .133.  Signs point toward his career being over.

Saturday, December 30, 2023

Shiny Chrome Wongs

There are things to discuss with the Red Sox, but I will get to all of that later when I have more time to contemplate it.  Alex Verdugo and Chris Sale are no longer Red Sox.  Lucas Giolito and Vaughn Grissom are.  But, I will get to that in time.  

Here is the next batch of Connor Wong cards, all of these are from Chrome Update.  The last four in the scan came from separate group case breaks.

In order, these are the Negative, Aqua/Blue Lava Lamp, Refractor, Base, Purple and Magenta.  As I said, the last four all came in separate player case breaks.  I do not know how often I will keep doing those.  I did quite well initially in Chrome Platinum Anniversary, but there have been diminishing returns since.  Still, this was pretty decent.  

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

The Jason Varitek Quest for 1,000: #995

I have not abandoned the quest, despite the Connor Wong collection taking off.  Just slowed way down.  I am getting very close though.

Card #995 is from the Bob Ross The Joy of Baseball set.  I had to grab this one when I heard about it.  The background is a typical Bob Ross landscape scene and Varitek is seemingly walking across the river.  Very nice card and I am thrilled Varitek is in the set.

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Wong Update

I'm going to try to get caught up here.  As I said on the last Wong post, I am a little tired of scanning one card at a time.  It takes way too long to do that.  

1.  Panini Mosaic Purple.  Serial-numbered to 49.  I am STILL on the lookout for the Fluorescent Orange.

2.  Topps Update Advanced Stat.  Serial-numbered to 300.

3.  Topps Update Blue Foil.  Serial-numbered to 999.

4.  Panini Immaculate Clear Socks.  Serial-numbered to 10.  I think this is the Socks parallel.  There is nothing specifying that on the card, I am basing it on the texture and look of the relic piece.

5.  Stadium Club Blue Foil.  Serial-numbered to 50.  This card took a weirdly long time to find.  I have been looking for it.

6.  Topps Update Orange Foil.  Serial-numbered to 299.

7.  Topps Chrome Update Prism Refractor.  

8.  Panini Absolute Tools of the Trade 2 Swatch Spectrum Red.  Serial-numbered to 49 and featuring two relic pieces.  

9.  Panini Chronicles America's Pastime Swatches Red.  

10.  Panini Chronicles Contenders Rookie Ticket Autographs Diamond Ticket.  Serial-numbered to 15 and autographed.

11.  Panini Select Rookie Jumbo Swatch Holo.  Serial-numbered to 250.

12.  Topps Chrome Sapphire Red.  Serial-numbered to five.  Sapphire took me awhile to get into, but I have gotten all but the 1/1 from 2022's Wong set.  That one will be tough to come by.

13.  Topps Chrome Update Magenta/Purple Lava Lamp.  Serial-numbered to 299, this is a new design in Chrome.

14.  Topps Chrome Rookie Autographs Blue.  Serial-numbered to 150.

15.  Topps Update Purple Foil.  Serial-numbered to 799.

That's it for now and this went much faster.  I still have a ways to go to finish catching up though.

Monday, December 25, 2023

The Worst Red Sox Team of All Time Pt. 28: Johnny Reder

Failure is often even more fascinating than success. I am definitely intrigued by the 1932 Boston Red Sox, the worst Red Sox team of all time. The team finished with a record of 43-111, for a winning percentage of .279 and very little went right.

I had actually heard of Johnny Reder early on, so I was kind of surprised that he had only spent one season in the Majors.  On the backs of 1986 Topps cards, there was often a trivia item for each team.  On the back of the Rey Quinones traded card was the fact that Johnny Reder was the first Red Sox player with a palindrome name.  So, there's that I guess.

Reder was 22 in 1932 and saw his only Major League action.  In 17 games.  He played ten games at third base and one at first.  He hit .135/.256/.162 with five hits, four runs, a double, three RBIs and six walks.  And, that's it.  Reder spent a few years after 1932 bouncing around in the minor league systems of the Red Sox, Athletics and Reds.  

One somewhat notable fact about Reder, more notable than the palindrome name, is that he is one of just six Polish-born players in Major League history.  He is the only one to play with the Red Sox.  There are not a ton of European-born players in Major League history, so that seems at least somewhat meaningful.  Other European-born Red Sox include Otto Deininger (Germany), Patsy Donovan (Ireland), Hobe Ferris (UK), Olaf Henriksen (Denmark), Beany Jacobson (Sweden), Marty Krug (Germany), Ted Lewis (UK), Jack Quinn (Slovakia), Win Remmerswaal (Netherlands), Al Shaw (UK) and Bobby Thomson (UK).  Isaiah Campbell, who was acquired from the Mariners for Luis Urias a few weeks ago will become Boston's first Portuguese-born player once he appears in a game.

Friday, December 22, 2023

More Random Freebies

I have not done well collecting other Red Sox cards beyond Connor Wong lately.  It is always much appreciated when people toss in freebies then.  One of my packages had a ton of other cards in it, and there were several Red Sox I needed.  Here are those freebies:

1.  Reese McGuire.  This was my first McGuire card.  McGuire was acquired in a trade with the White Sox last year after Christian Vazquez was traded.  He hit .337 with three home runs down the stretch and entered the 2023 season as the primary catcher.  But, after he had significant issues throwing out runners, he became the backup to Wong.  He is a decent contact guy though and hit .260 in 2023.  Virtually no power though and it would be surprising if he doesn't get non-tendered.

2.  Andrew Benintendi.  What happened to Benintendi?  His power is completely gone.  He hit just five home runs for the White Sox in 2023 after hitting five the year before.  In Boston in his first season he was a 20/20 man.  

3.  Rafael Devers.  Devers has 172 home runs and he just turned 27 in October.  We are looking at a potential 400 home run hitter if he stays healthy.

4.  Michael Chavis.  Chavis has never really been able to live up to the success of his first Major League season.  He had some bright spots in Pittsburgh, but hit just .242 with two home runs with Washington.

5.  Pedro Martinez.  I talked about Pedro's 1999 season in my Cy Young post.  He won the pitching Triple Crown, leading the league in wins, strikeouts and ERA.  The only other time that had happened by a Red Sox pitcher was Cy Young in 1901.  

6.  Jim Rice.  Rice might have finished his career with more than 400 home runs and a .300 batting average had he not dropped off so quickly.  After 1986, he was basically done as a productive Major Leaguer.  Had he declined more gradually, those career numbers would have been in reach, then perhaps it would not have taken as long to get him inducted into the Hall of Fame.

7.  Bobby Dalbec.  Surprisingly, Dalbec is actually older than Devers.  After a nice rookie season in which he hit 25 home runs, his career has gone quickly downhill.  It is hard to imagine him rebounding at this point.

8.  Kenley Jansen.  This is the card I was most happy about.  This is a Halloween parallel of Boston's only All Star in 2023.  Jansen could find himself in the Hall of Fame some day.  He has 420 career saves, a 2.52 ERA and a 0.956 WHIP.  He also has 1,159 strikeouts in just 813.2 innings pitched.      

Thursday, December 21, 2023

A Wong Way To Go

My last few posts have not had Connor Wong cards in them.  That was not destined to last.  I just have not been keeping up with taking pics of new cards.  So, buckle up.  Today won't be too bad, but there are a lot.  I might stop doing the one card per scan thing, just because it's such a long process.

Donruss Optic Rookie Autographs Pink Velocity Prizm.  It has been awhile since I have gotten one of these parallels.  Nice to add a new one.

Topps Update Mother's Day Pink.  Numbered to 50.  Not a great scan, it's hard to tell what color this is.

Panini Prizm Rookie Autographs Blue Prizm.  I am kind of at the point where I am just filling holes among cards that are not new.  This is one I probably passed up several times.  At one point I said I probably would not super-collect Wong.  That didn't happen.

Topps Pristine Red.  Serial-numbered to just five.  There have been a few red parallels numbered to five showing up lately.

Donruss Optic Carolina Blue Prizm.  I missed out on this card at one point early in my collection and always regretted that.  I grabbed it now.  If only I could get a couple of the other ones I missed out on again.  

Topps Gallery Printing Plate Cyan.  Most of my printing plates lately have been Cyan.  

What's this?  Some non-Connor Wong cards?

1.  Enmanuel Valdez.  Valdez was acquired in the Christian Vazquez trade and is in the mix at second base for 2024.  He hit .266/.311/.453 with six home runs, 19 RBIs and five stolen bases in 49 games.

2.  Rob Refsnyder.  His 2023 season was not nearly as good as his 2022 season.  He hit just .248/.365/.317 with one home run and 28 RBIs, but he continued to kill lefties.

3.  Topps Update Father's Day Blue.  And here is the Wong card that those came with.

Topps Gallery Rookie Autographs Blue.  

Topps Update Black Cat.  Closing things out is one of the rarer Halloween parallels from Topps Update.  This is the Black Cat parallel, serial-numbered to ten.  I still would like to add all of them, but the 1/1 is on Ebay right now for an ungodly price.

As always, many more to come.

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Red Sox in Cooperstown Pt. 46: Eddie Collins

Years Running the Red Sox: 1933-1947
Best Year Running the Red Sox: 1946

As I am reading a book about the Hall of Fame and also watching as ballots come in for next year's induction, I was reminded that I forgot someone when doing my Red Sox in Cooperstown posts. Eddie Collins, the great second-baseman with the Philadelphia Athletics and Chicago White Sox from 1906 through 1930 never played for the Red Sox, but he did serve as general manager of the team for several years. And yes, that card is listed as a Red Sox card.

When Tom Yawkey purchased the Red Sox he wanted to hire someone to run the team that was a baseball man and understood what types of players to bring in.  He also idolized Collins from his playing days, so it was a no-brainer that he would bring Collins in to make the personnel decisions.  Yawkey opened up his checkbook to the advice of Collins and brought in stars such as Rick Ferrell, Joe Cronin, Lefty Grove and Jimmie Foxx.  Collins also had input into the development of young players which led to Bobby Doerr and Ted Williams, among others.  

Under Collins and Yawkey, the Red Sox were transformed from perpetual bottom dwellers to a dangerous team that eventually made it to the World Series in 1946.  Unfortunately, Collins's health was declining at the time and he retired after 1947.  

Of course it was not all good under Collins.  There is the obvious issue of the farce that was the Jackie Robinson tryout in 1945.  Collins has been accused of being one of the individuals responsible for Boston not integrating, although that may not be entirely fair.  For one thing, at the time of his retirement, only three out of sixteen teams had integrated.  For another, Collins did bring in the first Mexican-born Major Leaguer, Mel Almada.  It is difficult to say what, if any, blame Collins deserved in Boston failing to integrate before 1959.  He certainly did not sign Robinson when he had a chance, but he was not around much longer after that to see if he would change things or not.

Monday, December 18, 2023

2001 Fleer Red Sox 100th Pt. 10: Roger Clemens

NAME: Roger Clemens

POSITION: Starting Pitcher

WHY IS HE HERE?:  Tied for the team all-time team record in wins (192) and the all-time team leader in strikeouts (2,590).  He won three Cy Young Awards with the Red Sox (1986, 1987, 1991) and the A.L. MVP in 1986.  Twice struck out 20 batters in a game.  

WOULD I PUT HIM IN IN 2001?:  Absolutely.

ANY BETTER CHOICES IN 2001?:  No.  Clemens is on the short list of best Red Sox pitchers of all time.

WOULD I PUT HIM IN NOW?:  Nothing has changed.

ANY BETTER CHOICES NOW?:  Again, no.  The only pitchers who have arguments as being better than Clemens are already in the set.

Sunday, December 17, 2023

Red Sox Awards History: Cy Young

I am switching up how I am doing this.  Instead of going year-by-year, as I did with the Rookie of the Year voting, I am going to do player-by-player.  Year-by-year worked with an award that can only be given to any one player once, but with the Cy Young, they can be voted in any year.  So, I will discuss the winners of the Cy Young first, followed by the other pitchers who received votes.  It will make more sense as the post goes along.


22-9 record, 3.16 ERA, 246 strikeouts in 273.1 innings pitched
Lonborg was the first Red Sox pitcher to ever receive any votes in the Cy Young voting.  1967 was the first year the award was given to a pitcher in each league.  The Red Sox of course went to the World Series in 1967 and Lonborg was a big reason why.  He led the league in wins, strikeouts and games started.  Lonborg received 18 out of the 20 votes and was also an All Star.

24-4 record, 2.48 ERA, 238 strikeouts in 254 innings pitched
Clemens, like Lonborg in 1967, was the ace of a team that made it to the World Series in 1986.  He led the league in wins, winning percentage (.857), ERA and several other more advanced pitching metrics that had only recently been tracked regularly, such as ERA+ (169), WHIP (0.969) and FIP (2.81).  He also had the 20-strikeout game, the first in history, even though he ended up second in the league in strikeouts.  He was a unanimous selection for Cy Young and also won the MVP and the All Star Game MVP.

20-9 record, 2.97 ERA, 256 strikeouts in 281.2 innings pitched.
Clemens followed up his 1986 unanimous selection by winning his second Cy Young Award.  He led the league in wins, complete games (18) and shutouts (seven).  This was somewhat of a weaker year for Cy Young candidates.  His ranking near the top of the major categories carried him, even though he tied for the league lead in wins and was second in strikeouts and third in ERA.  

18-10 record, 2.62 ERA, 241 strikeouts in 271.1 innings pitched.
After the debacle that was the 1990 voting (which I will get to below), Clemens won his third Cy Young award in 1991.  He led the league in ERA, strikeouts, innings pitched, games started (35) and shutouts (four) and was also an All Star.  The voting was not particularly close, even though he came in fourth in wins, a category that seemed very important to voters of the time.  

23-4 record, 2.07 ERA, 313 strikeouts in 213.1 innings pitched.
Martinez won the pitching version of the Triple Crown in 1999, leading the league in wins, ERA and strikeouts, as well as most of the advanced pitching metrics and WAR (9.8).  Some of those leads included ERA+ (243), FIP (1.39), WHIP (0.923) and strikeouts per nine innings (13.2).  Martinez was a true force in 1999 and nearly won the MVP as well.  He was a unanimous selection for the Cy Young Award and also won the All Star Game MVP. 
18-6 record, 1.74 ERA, 284 strikeouts in 217 innings pitched.
As good as Martinez was in 1999, he might have been better in 2000.  His traditional stats were not quite as impressive, but his advanced stats were.  He led the league in ERA, strikeouts, shutouts (four) and most of the advanced stats.  Among those were ERA+ (291), FIP (2.17), WHIP (0.737!) and strikeouts per nine innings (11.8).  He was an All Star and was once again a unanimous selection. 

22-4 record, 3.15 ERA, 189 strikeouts in 223 innings pitched.
One of the most truly random Cy Young selections has to be Porcello.  In his career, he was never an All Star and he only received Cy Young votes in 2016.  Throw in the fact that it was a controversial vote in which he did not even receive the most first-place votes (he received eight while Justin Verlander had 14), and it is a really weird selection.  Porcello led the league in wins and strikeouts per walks (5.91).  He was fifth in ERA and eighth in strikeouts.  It's hard to feel bad for Verlander though because he stole the 2011 MVP from Jacoby Ellsbury.


20-7 record, 3.27 ERA, 194 strikeouts in 200.2 innings pitched.
Beckett finished second in the Cy Young race to C.C. Sabathia of the Indians.  He led the league in wins, WAR (6.5) and FIP (3.08) while finishing sixth in ERA and seventh in strikeouts.  Sabathia was more of a work horse, which helped him in the voting.  Beckett was an All Star and won the ALCS MVP in 2007.  He was the definition of an ace in the postseason.  
13-7 record, 2.89 ERA, 175 strikeouts in 193 innings pitched.
In 2011, Beckett finished ninth in the Cy Young voting (Justin Verlander of the Tigers won), and was probably hurt by a perceived lack of effort in the last month of the season while Boston was sliding.  He was the team's best pitcher throughout the year though and finished fifth in the league in ERA.  He was an All Star in 2011.

17-7 record, 2.33 ERA, 120 strikeouts in 173.2 innings pitched.
Buchholz had his greatest full season in 2010 (he was better in 2013, but he was hurt for a chunk of the season).  He was an All Star for the first time and ended up finishing sixth in the Cy Young vote (the winner was Felix Hernandez of the Mariners).  Buchholz was second in the league in ERA, seventh in wins, fourth in winning percentage (.708) and third in shutouts (one).  

13-9 record, 2.96 ERA, 114 strikeouts in 140 innings, 31 saves
The 1977 Cy Young voing does not make much sense to me.  Campbell finished fifth as a reliever and the winner was former Red Sox Sparky Lyle of the Yankees, also a reliever.  But the two had very similar stats.  They had the same number of wins, but Lyle had only five losses.  Campbell led the league in saves, with Lyle having 26.  Lyle's ERA was significantly better (2.17), and walked quite a few fewer batters, but Campbell struck out a lot more batters (114 to 68).  There really is not much reason to award the Cy Young to Lyle and have Campbell finish fifth.  1977 was Campbell's only All Star appearance.

18-12 record, 2.93 ERA, 291 strikeouts in 264 innings pitched.
Clemens was an All Star in 1988 and finished sixth in the Cy Young vote behind eventual teammate and then-Twins starter Frank Viola.  Clemens led the league in strikeouts, complete games (14) and shutouts (eight).  He was fourth in wins and fifth in ERA.  

21-6 record, 1.93 ERA, 209 strikeouts in 228.1 innings pitched.
This one is a travesty.  Bob Welch of the Athletics won the Cy Young because he won 27 games for an absolutely loaded A's team.  Clemens though, was the superior pitcher in every way.  He led the league in ERA (Welch had an ERA a full run higher) and WAR (10.4 to Welch's 2.9!) and finished third in wins and fourth in strikeouts (Welch had 127).  Clemens was an All Star and also finished third in the MVP vote behind Rickey Henderson and Cecil Fielder (Welch finished ninth in MVP voting).  

18-11 record, 2.41 ERA, 208 strikeouts in 246.2 innings pitched.
Clemens finished third in the Cy Young vote in 1992 behind A's closer Dennis Eckersley and White Sox starter Jack McDowell.  Clemens was an All Star and led the league in ERA, WAR (8.7), WHIP (1.074) and shutouts (five) and was the lone bright spot for a bad Red Sox team.  He was third in strikeouts and fourth in wins (McDowell had more wins, but that was it).  Clemens probably should have been at least second and maybe should have won as an elite starter is more important than an elite closer.

20-8 record, 2.99 ERA, 162 strikeouts in 268.1 innings pitched.
Before he was an elite closer, Eckersley was once a great starting pitcher.  He finished fourth in the Cy Young vote in 1978 helping to lead Boston to a one-game playoff against the Yankees.  The winner was Ron Guidry of those same Yankees.  Eckersley finished fifth in WAR (7.3), fifth in wins, seventh in ERA and fifth in strikeouts.  

17-10 record, 2.99 ERA, 150 strikeouts in 246.2 innings pitched.
In 1979, Eckersley finished seventh in the voting, the winner was Mike Flanagan of the Orioles.  Eckersley led the league in ERA+ (149), which is sort of odd since he was third in ERA.  He also finished fifth in wins and sixth in strikeouts and tied for the lead in pitcher's WAR (7.2).  Eckersley would start to struggle as a starter after 1979, eventually leading to his move to the bullpen.

11-9 record, 3.75 ERA, 195 strikeouts in 182.1 innings pitched.
Eovaldi finished fourth in the Cy Young vote (the winner was Robbie Ray of the Blue Jays) and it is clear how much starting pitching has changed over the years from his record and innings total and his high showing in the vote.  Eovaldi led the league in starts (32), FIP (2.79) and walks per nine innings (1.7).  He was eighth in the league in ERA and seventh in strikeouts.  He was an All Star in 2021 and helped lead the team to a strong postseason performance.  

18-6 record, 3.66 ERA, 166 strikeouts in 216.2 innings pitched.
Hurst's final season in Boston was the only season in which he received Cy Young consideration.  It was his best season as far as wins and winning percentage were concerned, but he has generally been better in other seasons.  Hurst finished fifth in the Cy Young vote (Frank Viola of the Twins won it) after finishing fourth in wins and second in winning percentage (.750).  

5-0 record, 1.43 ERA, 126 strikeouts in 69 innings pitched, 35 saves.
Kimbrel had the best season of his three-year stint with the Red Sox in 2017 and was an All Star.  He finished sixth in the Cy Young vote (winner: Corey Kluber of the Indians) and won the Reliever of the Year Award.  Kimbrel finished third in the league in saves, but that strikeout rate of 16.4 per nine innings is absolutely dominant.  

19-9 record, 3.25 ERA, 225 strikeouts in 208 innings pitched.
2010 was Lester's first year receiving Cy Young consideration as well as his first All Star appearance.  He finished fourth in the Cy Young vote.  The winner was Felix Hernandez of the Mariners.  Lester led the league in strikeouts per nine innings (9.7) and fourth in ERA, second in wins and third in strikeouts.  

16-11 record, 2.46 ERA, 220 strikeouts in 219.2 innings pitched.
Lester did not finish the season with the Red Sox.  He was traded at the deadline to the Athletics, but pitched more for the Red Sox.  He finished fourth in the Cy Young vote and appeared in the All Star Game (with Boston).  The winner of the Cy Young in 2014 was Corey Kluber of the Indians.  Lester's numbers in Boston were 10-7 record, 2.46 ERA and 149 strikeouts.  He was fourth in ERA and fifth in strikeouts.

21-8 record, 2.58 ERA, 127 strikeouts in 219.2 innings pitched.
The 2002 Cy Young vote was ridiculous, but that will be discussed more later.  Barry Zito of the Athletics won it.  Lowe finished third in the vote, and that is probably the right place for him.  Lowe really emerged as a starter in 2002 after spending most of his career as a reliever.  He pitched a no-hitter and was an All Star.  He finished second in the league in both wins and ERA.    

4-1 record, 1.05 ERA, 46 strikeouts in 51.1 innings pitched, three saves.
Not many middle relievers receive Cy Young consideration, but when the year is as good as Martin had in 2023, it is bound to be noticed.  Martin only walked eight batters all year and his ERA is simply microscopic.  He finished twelfth in the Cy Young vote (although that was just one vote) with Gerrit Cole of the Yankees winning it.  Martin has quietly put together a nice career, but never seemed to get much notice for it.  

19-7 record, 2.89 ERA, 251 strikeouts in 233.1 innings pitched.
It is hard to argue too much with the second-place finish of Martinez in the Cy Young vote in 1998.  Roger Clemens of the Blue Jays won the pitching Triple Crown, with Martinez finishing second in all three categories.  Martinez proved to be well worth the cost in acquiring him as he immediately became Boston's ace.  He was an All Star in 1998.  

20-4 record, 2.26 ERA, 239 strikeouts in 199.1 innings pitched.
As promised, it is time to talk about the 2002 vote in which Barry Zito of the A's took home the award.  Zito's only advantage over Pedro was in wins (23) and games started (35).  Zito was more of a workhorse, as Martinez had some injury issues, but Martinez led the league in winning percentage (.833), ERA, strikeouts, WHIP (0.923) and several other advanced pitching metrics.  Martinez really should have won it in 2002.  He was an All Star.

14-4 record, 2.22 ERA, 206 strikeouts in 186.2 innings pitched.
Martinez finished third in the race in 2003 with the Blue Jays' Roy Halladay winning it.  Injuries played a big part in his lower finish as he started just 29 games and threw fewer than 200 innings.  He did though lead the league in winning percentage (.777), ERA and WHIP (1.039), along with other pitching metrics.  

16-9, 3.90 ERA, 227 strikeouts in 217 innings pitched.
Martinez's final season in Boston saw him finish fourth in the Cy Young vote, with Johan Santana of the Twins winning the award.  It is a little surprising he finished so high, as his ERA was really not impressive and he did not lead the league in any category.  He was sixth in wins, ninth in ERA and second in strikeouts.

18-3 record, 2.90 ERA, 154 strikeouts in 167.2 innings pitched.
Matsuzaka is often thought of as a bust, and the way his career went after 2008 certainly supports that, but for the first two years, he looked like the real deal.  Matsuzaka finished fourth in the Cy Young vote with Cliff Lee of the Indians winning it.  He tended to nibble too much, and that resulted in him leading the league in walks (94), but he was fourth in wins, second in winning percentage (.857) and fifth in strikeouts per nine innings.  It was his best season in Boston.

19-6 record, 3.81 ERA, 213 strikeouts in 203.1 innings pitched.
Rodriguez always seemed to have talent, but just could not fully harness it.  That changed in 2019 as he finished sixth in the Cy Young vote.  Justin Verlander of the Astros won it.  Rodriguez led the league in games started (34) and walks (75).  He finished ninth in ERA, third in wins, ninth in strikeouts and fifth in pitcher WAR (5.5).  

17-8 record, 2.90 ERA, 308 strikeouts in 214.1 innings pitched.
Sale was in his first season in Boston in 2017 after a blockbuster trade with the White Sox.  He finished second in the Cy Young vote to the Indians' Corey Kluber.  Sale led the league in innings pitched, strikeouts and strikeouts per nine innings (12.9).  He was fourth in the league in wins, second in ERA and eighth in winning percentage (.680).  He started the All Star Game.

12-4 record, 2.11 ERA, 237 strikeouts in 158 innings pitched.
Injuries slowed Sale down in 2018, but he still finished fourth in the Cy Young vote (Blake Snell of the Rays won it) and started the All Star Game.  He was third in winning percentage (.750), third in strikeouts and would have been second in ERA had he thrown enough innings to qualify.  To date, this was Sale's last great season and he is one of the better pitchers to have never won a Cy Young Award.

21-6 record, 3.26 ERA, 203 strikeouts in 226.2 innings pitched.
Schilling was acquired in November of 2003 and was a huge reason the Red Sox finally won their first World Series since 1918.  He finished second in the Cy Young vote behind Johan Santana of the Twins after leading the league in wins, winning percentage (.778) and strikeouts per walk (5.80).  He was also second in the league in ERA and third in strikeouts.  Schilling was an All Star in 2004 and had a huge postseason performance.

15-2 record, 2.60 ERA, 38 strikeouts in 141.2 innings pitched, ten saves.
Stanley was sort of a jack-of-all-trades type pitcher.  He started three games and finished 35, among his 52 games.  The primary reason behind his seventh-place finish was his incredible record.  His winning percentage of .882 was second in the league.  The winner of the Cy Young Award in 1978 was Ron Guidry of the Yankees.  

12-7 record, 3.10 ERA, 83 strikeouts in 168.1 innings pitched. 14 saves.
1982 saw Stanley finish seventh in the Cy Young vote once again, this time Pete Vuckovich of the Brewers won the award.  Stanley was exclusively a reliever in 1982, finishing 33 of his 48 games.  He pitched enough to qualify for second in the league in ERA, eighth in pitcher WAR (4.8) and eighth in winning percentage (.632).  He was ninth in saves and first in ERA+ (140).  

15-6 record, 1.91 ERA, 123 strikeouts in 179 innings pitched, three saves.
Once a power pitcher, Tiant fell on hard times for a few years before resurrecting his career in Boston in 1972.  He finished sixth in the Cy Young vote (Gaylord Perry of the Indians won it) and led the league in ERA and ERA+ (169).  He spent about half of his time as a reliever and half as a starter (19 starts in 43 games).  He was second in winning percentage (.714).

22-13 record, 2.92 ERA, 176 strikeouts in 311.1 innings pitched.
Tiant finished fourth in the Cy Young vote (Catfish Hunter of the A's won) and was an All Star in 1974.  He led the league in shutouts (seven) and finished third in pitcher's WAR (7.7), eighth in ERA, third in wins, fifth in winning percentage (.629) and ninth in strikeouts.  It was Tiant's highest finish in a Cy Young vote.

21-12 record, 3.06 ERA, 131 strikeouts in 279 innings pitched.
1976 was Tiant's third year winning 20 or more games with the Red Sox and he finished fifth in the Cy Young vote (Jim Palmer of the Orioles won it) and was an All Star.  Tiant finished sixth in pitcher's WAR (6.3), second in wins, eighth in winning percentage (.636) and eighth in innings pitched.  1976 was Tiant's last great season.

4-1 record, 1.09 ERA, 101 strikeouts in 74.1 innings pitched, 21 saves.
Uehara was not the biggest name Boston acquired prior to the 2013 season, but he ended up being the best, by far.  Uehara finished seventh in the Cy Young vote (Max Scherzer of the Tigers won it) and had an absolutely dominant season out of the bullpen.  Uehara also won the ALCS MVP Award.  His WHIP (0.565!), strikeouts per nine (12.2) and strikeouts per walk (11.22) were all elite numbers.  

16-8 record, 2.95 ERA, 119 strikeouts in 195.1 innings pitched.
Wakefield had a shocking season in 1995 after being released by the Pirates in Spring Training.  He came on strong and finished third in the Cy Young vote (Randy Johnson of the Mariners won).  He might have finished higher had he not slumped late in the season.  He was second in ERA, fifth in wins and tenth in winning percentage (.667).  Wakefield built on his 1995 season to become an important member of the Red Sox pitching staff through the 2011 season.

19-12 record, 3.95 ERA, 141 strikeouts in 255.1 innings pitched.
Wise was involved in two trades for Hall of Famers, and if Reggie Smith ever gets in, it will be three.  He was a pretty good pitcher in his own right and finished eighth in the Cy Young vote in 1975, the only year he received any consideration (Jim Palmer of the Orioles won).  Wise finished sixth in the league in wins and ninth in complete games (17).  The primary reason he finished so high was his win total and the fact that he was the big winner for a team that made it to the postseason.

Friday, December 8, 2023

The Worst Red Sox Team of All Time Pt. 27: Urbane Pickering

Failure is often even more fascinating than success. I am definitely intrigued by the 1932 Boston Red Sox, the worst Red Sox team of all time. The team finished with a record of 43-111, for a winning percentage of .279 and very little went right.

Well, at least Pickering has an interesting name.  Unfortunately, there is not much out there to say about the player.  Pickering spent a long time playing for various minor league teams around the country.  Until the Red Sox came calling in 1931.  By that time, Pickering was already in his early 30's.

Pickering played in 103 games in his first taste of the Major Leagues, primarily at third base, but also appearing at second.  He actually had a decent season, hitting .252/.318/.393 with 13 doubles, four triples, nine home runs, 52 RBIs and three stolen bases.  It made for a 91 OPS+, which is not good, but was fourth on the team.  

1932 saw Pickering as the team's primary third-baseman.  He played in 132 games, 126 of them at third and one at catcher shockingly enough.  He had a similar year offensively, hitting .260/.320/.357, but his power was significantly down.  He hit just two home runs, but had 28 doubles and five triples.  He drove in 40.  The problem moving forward was that his defense was not good.  He made 21 errors and had a .941 fielding percentage.  That is not good.

Pickering never played in the Majors after 1932.

Thursday, December 7, 2023

Season in Review: 2023

The Red Sox finished in last place once again in 2023.  This is the second year in a row for that finish.  Their record was an identical 78-84 under Alex Cora.  The year was marked primarily by inconsistency from the offense and injuries to the pitching staff.  Before the end of the season, CBO Chaim Bloom was relieved of his duties and former reliever Craig Breslow was eventually hired on.  Hopefully there will be some improvement in 2024.


Devers signed a massive extension prior to the season, which was almost a necessity after the Red Sox lost Xander Bogaerts to free agency.  Devers had what was perceived to be a down season in 2023, but still won his second Silver Slugger Award.  He hit .271/.351/.500 with 33 home runs, 100 RBIs, 34 doubles and 90 runs scored.  If that's a down season, I am thrilled he will spend most of the rest of his career in Boston.

It should not be at all surprising that I fit Wong in here.  This was the Year of Wong in my collection.  Most of the rest of the team took a backseat to my collecting Wong and he is just outside the top five players I have the most cards of.  Wong proved to be a reliable defender behind the plate and hit just enough to edge out the incumbent Reese McGuire for starting catcher.  He ended the season hitting .235/.288/.385 with nine home runs, 36 RBIs, 25 doubles and a surprising eight stolen bases as a catcher.  Hopefully he takes another step forward next season.

Bello emerged as the top starting pitcher on the team in 2023 after an uneven rookie season that saw him improve as the season progressed.  He ended up leading the team in games started (28) and innings pitched (157).  He was also the team's top winner, finishing with a record of 12-11.  Bello struck out 132 batters while walking 45 and had an ERA of 4.24.  He still experienced some growing pains, but looks like a legitimate starter going forward.

Pivetta had an inconsistent season that saw him perform in a variety of roles.  He started 16 games while finishing three.  He pitched in 38 games total and threw 142.2 innings.  He had a 10-9 record and even notched a save.  Pivetta was the team's top strikeout pitcher, notching 183, against 50 walks.  It is difficult to say what Pivetta's role will be going forward, but he has proven to be a valuable pitcher for the Red Sox ever since his acquisition during the 2020 season.  

Probably the biggest surprise of the 2023 season was the development of Duran.  He had always put up terrific numbers in the minors, but largely struggled in the Majors.  Especially defensively.  But 2023 saw Duran put it all together finally, before an injury ended his season.  He ended up playing in 102 games and hit .295/.346/.482 with 34 doubles, eight home runs, 40 RBIs and leading the team with 24 stolen bases.  The Red Sox have seemingly cleared the way for Duran to be the starting center fielder in 2024.  Hopefully he builds on this.


Crawford was an under-the-radar success as a starting pitcher in 2023.  He appeared in 31 games, starting 23 and threw 129.1 innings.  He had a record of 6-8, but his 4.04 ERA led the starting staff.  His stuff was even better.  He struck out 135 batters while walking just 36.  Crawford is not really a star, but for a bottom-rotation pitcher, there are a lot worse options.

For a time, Winckowski was one of the top relievers in the game.  Overuse caused his numbers to dip a bit in the second half, but it was a massively successful season for the top player received in the Benintendi deal before the 2021 season.  Winckowski appeared in a team-high 60 games, throwing 84.1 innings.  He did start a game as an opener.  Winckowski had a record of 4-4 with three saves and a sparkling 2.88 ERA.  He struck out 82 batters while walking 31.  

Houck was a former first-round pick and yet another pitcher who appeared in a variety of roles over the last couple of years.  In 2023, Houck settled in as a starter, but had some difficulty going late in games.  He was also set back by some injuries.  His final numbers were a record of 6-10 with a 5.01 ERA in 106 innings pitched.  He struck out 99 and walked 41.  Houck is probably getting close to a crossroads in his career.


Boston's only All Star in 2023 was new closer Jansen.  Jansen had one of the bigger career milestones in 2023 as he saved his 400th game, making him look like an eventual Hall of Famer.  He had some minor injury issues, but by and large was as advertised.  He appeared in 51 games and saved 29 of them.  He had a record of 3-6 with a 3.63 ERA that was inflated by a couple of really bad outings.  He struck out 52 and walked 17 in 44.2 innings.

I have long liked Justin Turner, so I was pretty excited when he signed with Boston to be the primary designated hitter.  The red-haired caveman was a great influence in the clubhouse and appeared at first and second base as well as DH.  He also put up some impressive offensive numbers, hitting .276/.345/.455 with 23 home runs, 31 doubles, 86 runs scored and 96 RBIs.  It would be nice to see him back in 2024.

Early in the season it looked like Duvall would put up an absolutely monstrous campaign.  Unfortunately, he got hurt early and took a bit to get going again when he came back.  As it was, Duvall ended up hitting .247/.303/.531 with 21 home runs and 58 RBIs while playing very good defense.  Duvall is another player who is currently a free agent who could help in some capacity in 2024.

I am still waiting on a card of Martin (would you believe he hasn't had one since 2020?!), who was perhaps the best reliever in the league not named Felix Bautista.  Martin appeared in 55 games, throwing 51.1 innings with a microscopic 1.05 ERA and 4-1 record.  He saved three games, striking out 46 with just eight walks.  Martin was fantastic in 2023 and really should receive more notoriety than he has in his career.


The Red Sox did not do much at the trading deadline.  The only deal they made was for second-baseman Urias after being rumored to be in the hunt for starting pitching or for shopping various players.  Urias made an immediate impact in Boston, hitting two grand slams very quickly.  He did not do much other than that and ended up hitting just .225/.361/.337 with two home runs and 13 RBIs.  He has since been traded to the Mariners.


Casas had a brutal start to the 2023 season.  For the first month, he was hitting under .200.  But, like Dustin Pedroia, who similarly struggled in his rookie season, Casas eventually figured it out and ended up putting together a terrific rookie campaign.  It was enough to finish third in the Rookie of the Year vote.  Casas ended up hitting .263/.367/.490 with 24 home runs and 65 RBIs.  He is a big part of the future of the team.

The Macho Man was not a conventional rookie, having come over from a successful career in Japan.  He started the year making a big name for himself in the World Baseball Classic, and it was this added to the strain of a much more intense travel schedule than he was used, that led him to slump badly at times.  Still, his season was a success as he hit .289/.338/.445 with 155 hits, 33 doubles and 72 RBIs.  His power was one of the things that was questioned, but he hit 15 home runs.  He even stole eight bases.  Now that he knows how to better prepare for the season, it will be interesting to see how he reacts in 2024.


When Verdugo was acquired as the main piece in the Mookie Betts trade, it was hoped that he would develop into a .300 hitter with 20-homer power.  Unfortunately, after his fourth season in Boston, he still has yet to tap into that potential.  There have been glimpses of what could be, but he struggles with consistency and maturity.  His .264/.324/.421 line with 13 home runs and 54 RBIs was just not cutting it any longer and Boston cut bait and sent him to the Yankees earlier this week.  It is unfortunate because I like Verdugo, and love that he seemed happy in Boston, at least until the second half of this season.  He just seemed to shut down.

It was yet another mostly lost season for Sale.  He ended up having his highest innings total (102.2) since 2019 and started 20 games, but he continued to suffer from injuries.  When he was on the mound, there were times that he looked like his old self.  But his final numbers of 6-5 with a 4.30 ERA are not much to write home about.  He did strike out 125 batters while walking 29, so the swing-and-miss stuff is still there, but his contract has been an expensive flop since signing the extension prior to 2019.  One of my friends frequently points out that I had predicted this even before he was acquired.

It's not like much was expected from the former two-time Cy Young winner, but some semblance of just a reliable starter, as he had been the last couple of seasons would have been nice.  Kluber was an unmitigated disaster in 2023.  He ended up appearing in just 15 games, starting nine, with a record of 3-6 and an unsightly 7.04 ERA in 55 innings.  He struck out just 42 batters while walking 21.  It is hard to imagine him getting a Major League contract in 2024.  

Story spent the entire first half of the season on the Injured List.  He ended up playing in just 43 games in 2023.  He has been hurt more than he has been on the field since signing a big contract prior to 2022.  When he did make it back, he was not good.  He ended up hitting just .203/.250/.316 with three home runs and 14 RBIs, though he did steal ten bases and played fantastic defense.  Hopefully this was just trying to find his rhythm and he will be back to normal in 2024.