Friday, January 01, 2010

Boston Red Sox - Decade in review

The 1999 Boston Red Sox season ended with a loss to the NY Yankees in the ALCS, and a streak of 81 consecutive seasons without a World Series championship. Ten years later, we look back on a decade in which the team not only snapped that streak (after it reached 86), they won another title only three years later. They end the 2009 season as one of the best teams in ML Baseball, with a strong major league roster backed up by a strong minor league system, with excellent revenue streams and an ownership and management team willing to spend on the team.

For the vast majority of Red Sox fans, this was the best decade they've ever seen, but it's actually only the second-most successful decade in team history.

Boston Red Sox, by the decade












1 - Only 9 seasons, as they began play in 1901.

Major Events:

  • In 2001, GM Dan Duquette put together one of the most talented teams in baseball, adding Manny Ramirez to a team that featured the best pitcher in the game, Pedro Martinez, one of the best catchers in Jason varitek and the reigning AL batting champion Nomar Garciaparra, one of the best players in baseball. But Garciaparra was hurt before the season began, Martinez and Varitek (and Carl Everett and Frank Castillo and Rich Garces and Brian Daubach) went down for extended periods of time, and the team that some thought would be the best in baseball never took the field once. A late-season swoon, with most of the team's stars on the shelf, resulted in the removal of manager Jimy Williams and the elevation of pitching coach Joe Kerrigan to the manager's office. His tenure was short, as he was replaced by Grady Little during a management shake-up in the middle of spring training the following season.
  • In December 2001, the team was sold by the Yawkey Trust, changing ownership for the first time since the depression. While there were many good teams over the years, they had never had the right combination of talent and luck that results in World Series wins. The new ownership team, led by John Henry (formerly owner of the Florida Marlins), scared many fans, convinced that the new group would never pay what was necessary to be successful. Those fears were not realized.
  • The signature event of the decade, one of the signature events of the team's history, was, of course, the 2004 post-season. One year removed from a late-game collapse in game 7 of the ALCS to the hated Yankees, the 2004 Red Sox fell behind those same Yankees 3-0, a hole from which no baseball team had ever recovered. After three straight close and dramatic games, Boston pounded the Yankees - in Yankee Stadium - in game 7, and went on to beat the Cardinals in four to win their first World Series in '86 years.
  • In the winter following the 2005 season, negotiations between ownership and GM Theo Epstein broke down, leaving the team without a GM. Jed Hoyer and Ben Cherington served, briefly, as co-GMs, and traded SS prospect Hanley Ramirez to the Florida Marlins for Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell. Epstein returned to the team the following spring, and while there have been rumors that he would not have made that trade, they were a lot louder during the 2006 season when Beckett struggled than they have been since the 2007 World Series, which the Red Sox won and in which Lowell and Beckett were key contributors.

Signature moments:

  • No-hitters:
    • Hideo Nomo, in Baltimore
    • Derek Lowe, in Fenway
    • Clay Buccholz, in Fenway
    • Jon Lester, in Fenway
      And almost...
    • Pedro Martinez hits the first batter of a game in Tampa, Gerald Williams, who charges the mound causing a benches-clearing brawl. The Rays take exception at something they thought that Brian Daubach did, throwing at him all night, resulting in seven ejections. Martinez, meanwhile, retires the next 24 Rays, losing his no-hitter to the first batter of the ninth, one pitch after the chain around his neck broke and was put into his pocket.
    • Curt Schilling took a no-hitter into the ninth inning of a game in Oakland. With one out, he shook off Varitek's sign, for the first time that day, and gave up a single.
  • Pedro Martinez puts up a 1.74 ERA in a league where the average ERA is 4.92. His ERA+ of 291 is the second best ever recorded, trailing only Tim Keefe's 294 from 1880.
  • Theo Epstein avoids the media by leaving Fenway Park in a gorilla suit.
  • Trot Nixon wins a playoff game with an 11th inning, pinch-hit walk-off home run.
  • The screen was replaced with Monster Seats.
  • With two on and no outs in a one run game, Derek Lowe gets a bunt out and two strikeouts to preserve a division series-clinching win in Oakland.
  • Dave Roberts' steal of second base in game 5 of the 2004 ALCS.
  • Johnny Damon's grand-slam in game 7 of the 2004 ALCS.
  • Curt Schilling's bloody sock, game 6 of the 2004 ALCS.
  • The Red Sox score against Mariano Rivera and go on to win two consecutive elimination playoff games.
  • Derek Lowe, coming off one of the worst seasons of his career, goes six innings with only two days rest to win game 7 of the ALCS.
  • (Notice a trend?)
  • Shea Hillenbrand beats Mariano Rivera with a HR.
  • Jason Bay beats Mariano Rivera with a HR.
  • The ownership group that people feared wouldn't spend blows everyone else out of the water with a $51 million sealed bid for the right to negotiate with Daisuke Matsuzaka.
  • Coke bottles appeared and then disappeared.
  • The ownership group that people feared wouldn't spend pays $70 million for five years of JD Drew. A certain segment of the Boston fan base and media is not happy.
  • Giambi homers. Grady Little leaves Pedro in the game. Karim Garcia hits a hard line-drive single. Grady Little leaves Pedro in the game. Pedro finishes the seventh to handshakes and congratulations. Grady Little sends Pedro out for the eighth. Jeter doubles. Grady Little leaves Pedro in the game. Bernie Williams singles. Grady Little leaves Pedro in the game. Matsui doubles. Grady Little leaves Pedro in the game. Posada doubles. It occurs to Grady Little that Pedro might be done. So are the Red Sox.
  • David Ortiz sets a Red Sox record for Home Runs in a season with 54.
  • Josh Beckett dominates the 2007 post-season.
  • Dustin Pedroia wins the Rookie of the Year and MVP awards in back-to-back seasons.


173 batters went to the plate for the Red Sox during the 2000s. The top 10 in some notable offensive categories (as well as a few bottom 5s):

[Rate stats are for batters with 500+ plate appearances]

Red Sox - Hitter leaderboard - 2000s
PlayerRuns CreatedPlayerHRPlayerRBI

1Manny Ramirez 888.01Manny Ramirez 2741Manny Ramirez 868

2David Ortiz 797.92David Ortiz 2592David Ortiz 830

3Jason Varitek 600.43Jason Varitek 1483Jason Varitek 596

4Trot Nixon 513.04Trot Nixon 1184Trot Nixon 471

5Kevin Youkilis 463.75Kevin Youkilis 935Kevin Youkilis 408

6Johnny Damon 415.26Nomar Garciaparra 826Nomar Garciaparra 350

7Nomar Garciaparra 398.57Mike Lowell 757Mike Lowell 348

8Dustin Pedroia 317.08Brian Daubach 658Johnny Damon 299

9Mike Lowell 316.49Johnny Damon 569Brian Daubach 233

10Bill Mueller 251.210J.D. Drew 5410Kevin Millar 220


1Manny Ramirez 12321Manny Ramirez 7431Jacoby Ellsbury 129

2David Ortiz 10652David Ortiz 6742Johnny Damon 98

3Jason Varitek 10453Jason Varitek 5133Coco Crisp 70

4Trot Nixon 8004Trot Nixon 4754Julio Lugo 48

5Johnny Damon 7305Johnny Damon 4615Dustin Pedroia 47

6Kevin Youkilis 7056Kevin Youkilis 4246Nomar Garciaparra 31

7Nomar Garciaparra 6667Nomar Garciaparra 3627Trot Nixon 25

8Mike Lowell 5988Dustin Pedroia 3248Jason Varitek 22

9Dustin Pedroia 5809Mike Lowell 2709Carl Everett 20

10Bill Mueller 43710J.D. Drew 24710Kevin Youkilis 19


1Nomar Garciaparra 0.3231Manny Ramirez 0.4111Manny Ramirez 0.588

2Manny Ramirez 0.3122Kevin Youkilis 0.3912David Ortiz 0.578

3Dustin Pedroia 0.3073J.D. Drew 0.393Nomar Garciaparra 0.541

4Bill Mueller 0.3034David Ortiz 0.3884Jason Bay 0.534

5Jacoby Ellsbury 0.2975Jason Bay 0.385Carl Everett 0.519

6Johnny Damon 0.2956Bill Mueller 0.3786Kevin Youkilis 0.487

7Mike Lowell 0.2957Nomar Garciaparra 0.3737J.D. Drew 0.485

8Kevin Youkilis 0.2928Dustin Pedroia 0.378Trot Nixon 0.48

9David Ortiz 0.2889Trot Nixon 0.3689Mike Lowell 0.479

10Dante Bichette 0.28710Johnny Damon 0.36210Bill Mueller 0.474

29Alex Cora 0.25229Shea Hillenbrand 0.31729Mark Loretta 0.361

30Julio Lugo 0.25130Doug Mirabelli 0.31530Jose Offerman 0.359

31Mark Bellhorn 0.24731Troy O'Leary 0.31131Alex Cora 0.35

32Doug Mirabelli 0.23832Alex Gonzalez 0.30332Julio Lugo 0.346

33Mike Lansing 0.23433Mike Lansing 0.27633Mike Lansing 0.338


1Manny Ramirez 0.9991Manny Ramirez 7.68

2David Ortiz 0.9662David Ortiz 7.25

3Nomar Garciaparra 0.9143Nomar Garciaparra 6.75

4Jason Bay 0.9144Jason Bay 6.72

5Kevin Youkilis 0.8785Kevin Youkilis 6.46

6J.D. Drew 0.8756J.D. Drew 6.20

7Carl Everett 0.8697Carl Everett 6.16

8Bill Mueller 0.8528Trot Nixon 5.88

9Trot Nixon 0.8489Bill Mueller 5.85

10Mike Lowell 0.82910Johnny Damon 5.70

29Mark Loretta 0.70629Gabe Kapler 3.93

30Jose Offerman 0.70230Lou Merloni 3.83

31Alex Cora 0.67131Julio Lugo 3.61

32Julio Lugo 0.66532Alex Cora 3.49

33Mike Lansing 0.61433Mike Lansing 2.58


59 men started baseball games for the Red Sox in the 2000s. 141 total took the mound. Here are the leaderboards for some notable pitching categories...

Red Sox - Pitcher leaderboard - 2000s

1Mike Timlin 3941Tim Wakefield 2501Tim Wakefield 1747

2Tim Wakefield 3462Pedro Martinez 1392Pedro Martinez 936 2/3

3Jonathan Papelbon 2683Josh Beckett 1223Josh Beckett 792

4Manny Delcarmen 2414Derek Lowe 1014Derek Lowe 788 2/3

5Derek Lowe 2395Curt Schilling 985Curt Schilling 675

6Alan Embree 2116Jon Lester 916Jon Lester 558

7Hideki Okajima 1987Daisuke Matsuzaka 737Daisuke Matsuzaka 431 2/3

8Javier Lopez 1728Bronson Arroyo 618Mike Timlin 409

9Keith Foulke 1599John Burkett 599Bronson Arroyo 401 1/3

10Rich Garces 15210Frank Castillo 4910John Burkett 354 2/3


1Tim Wakefield 1101Tim Wakefield 951Jonathan Papelbon 151

2Pedro Martinez 752Derek Lowe 412Derek Lowe 66

3Josh Beckett 653Josh Beckett 343Ugueth Urbina 49

4Derek Lowe 614Curt Schilling 294Keith Foulke 47

5Curt Schilling 535Pedro Martinez 265Mike Timlin 27

6Jon Lester 426Frank Castillo 246Byung-Hyun Kim 16

7Daisuke Matsuzaka 377Mike Timlin 227Curt Schilling 9

8Mike Timlin 308Daisuke Matsuzaka 218Brandon Lyon 9

9John Burkett 259Bronson Arroyo 199Tim Wakefield 7

10Bronson Arroyo 2410John Burkett 17T-10Rolando Arrojo 6

T-10Hideki Okajima 6

T-10Rod Beck 6

(min. 10 starts)(min. 100 IP)


1Pedro Martinez 2.531Jonathan Papelbon 1.84

2Kason Gabbard 3.652Pedro Martinez 2.53

3Jon Lester 3.663Hideki Okajima 2.72

4Justin Masterson 3.764Javier Lopez 3.3

5Derek Lowe 3.835Rod Beck 3.63

6Curt Schilling 3.926Jon Lester 3.66

7Daisuke Matsuzaka 47Keith Foulke 3.73

8Josh Beckett 4.058Manny Delcarmen 3.74

9Paxton Crawford 4.159Mike Timlin 3.76

10Bronson Arroyo 4.1910Justin Masterson 3.76

Team of the Decade

Red Sox Team of the Decade - 2000s
C Jason VaritekAs bad as he's been the past couple of years, there really isn't a question here.

1B Kevin YoukilisHe's not only passed Millar and Daubach in production, but in games played.

2B Dustin PedroiaThey went through a bunch of them, of varying effectiveness, before Pedroia arrived.

3B Mike LowellThe only alternative would be Shea Hillenbrand. Not a pleasant thought.

SS Nomar GarciaparraThey've been trying to replace him since he left.

LF Manny RamirezThe occasional issues don't come close to outweighing the monstrous production.

CF Jacoby EllsburyTough call. Everett was better, Crisp played more games

RF Trot Nixon Drew was better, but Nixon played twice as many games.

DH David OrtizOne of the three hitting positions where there isn't a second option.

SP Pedro MartinezAt his best, he was the best.

SP Curt SchillingHe had a lot to say, but the performance to back it up.

SP Josh BeckettHasn't been what we all want him to be, but his dominance was a big part of a second championship.

SP Jon LesterHe may never win a Cy Young, but watching, it's not outlandish to think that he might.

SP Tim WakefieldHas never actually been the kind of "innings-eater" that people think

RP Jonathan PapelbonDominant

RP Keith FoulkeHe's taken too much abuse, particularly as he was a big reason that the "curse" ended in 2004.

RP Mike TimlinLed the team in appearances for the decade while pitching well

What a ride!

As noted earlier, this was unquestionably the second best decade in team history. It was a period of great and colorful players, and successful teams. They won 95+ five times, 90+ six times and had a low-point of 82 wins, and that was in a season of devastating injuries.

And this does have one advantage over the 1910s. At the end of that decade, the success was over. The team was divesting itself of its best players, and the 1918 championship was followed by the departure of Babe Ruth and many of the better players from that team. It would be 17 years before the next Red Sox team to finish over .500. While we do not yet know what the 2010s will bring, we know what the 1920s brought, and it is difficult to imagine that that we're heading back to anything like that. The 2009 Red Sox, as an organization, are far, far better positioned for future success than the 1919 version was.

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