Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Top Five Red Sox Players to Wear Number 2

For such a low number, the "2" has not been the most distinguished of Boston numbers. Some good players, but no all-time greats, have worn it. And guess what kids? It's up for grabs in 2014!

5. Doug Griffin (1971-1977) - Traded to the Sox with Jarvis and Ken Tatum for Tony C, Ray Jarvis and Jerry Moses, Griffin was the first second-baseman I remember. I caught what was one of five or so appearances he made in his last year with most of the time going to Denny Doyle. Doug was a light-hitter, but he did place fourth in the Rookie of the Year voting in 1971. The next year he won the AL Gold Glove for second base. After that...well, there's a reason they kept handing out the number.*

4. Mike Andrews (1967-1970) - One of the lesser-known members of the "Impossible Dream" 1967 squad, Andrews manned second base for the Sox during his time with the team. He went to the All-Star game in 1969, a year where he batted .293 with a .845 OPS, 15 homers and 59 RBIs. He finished in the top 30 for AL MVP twice; 1968 (21) and 1969 (26).

3. Carl Everett (2000-2001) - "Crazy Carl" may have driven us nuts, but he could play. He went to the 2000 All-Star Game and batted .300 for the season with a .960 OPS, 34 homeruns and 108 RBI. He also ranked top 10 in OPS and #8 in slugging that year. Next year, the wheels fell off and Carl wore his welcome out.**

2. Rick Ferrell (1936-1937) - If Ferrell wore #2 his entire time in Boston, he'd rank higher. But he only started wearing it in 1936. That year he went to the All-Star game, batted a solid .312 with an .867 OPS. He also went to the All-Star Game in 1937, but was traded that June to the Senators.*** He'd go on to enter the Hall of Fame courtesy of the Veterans Committee in 1984.

1. Jacoby Ellsbury (2010-2013) - It is still a little odd to realize that Jacoby is no longer in Boston. He was a homegrown talent that made good, one that I was able to watch in person at almost ever single level of his development. But that is neither here nor there. What is relevant now is how he performed while wearing the '2'.

It was a tale of two players. There was the guy who played a combined 92 games in 2010 and 2012, and the guy who was an MVP-caliber player in 2011 and 2013. That guy was voted into two All-Star games (2011, 2013) and finished in the Top 15 for MVP voting twice, coming in second in 2011. That same year Ellsbury won a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger award for center field.**** Over the four years he average a 3.7 WAR, which is pretty impressive for someone who missed most of two seasons over that stretch. And of course, there was the title he won with Boston in 2013.

When he was healthy, he was one of the best center fielders in the game. But his durability has always been a question, which is why he moved on to the greener pastures of New York after the 2013 season.*****

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* Nevertheless, more than one person will tell you Griffin should have been at second base in Game 7 of the 1975 World Series. It was a Denny Doyle throwing error that allowed the Reds to cut a Boston lead to 3-2. Of course, they went on to win 4-3.

** He was flat-out the craziest person I ever saw put on a Boston uniform.

*** He was traded that summer along with his brother Wes Ferrell and Mel Almada to the Senators for Ben Chapman and Bobo Newsom. Chapman was gone by 1939 and the Sox traded Newsom to the Browns in 1937 for Joe Vosmik. Of course, over the next five years Newsom had an average 17-14 record with an ERA+ of 110 and went to three All-Star games. Meanwhile, Rick Ferrell played another ten years, going to two All-Star games. Which is a long way of saying that the Red Sox really sucked at trading back in the day.

**** In almost any other year that season would have won the MVP award (.321 BA, .928 OPS, 32 HR, 105 RBI, 212 H, 199 RS, 1.000 fielding percentage, 8.1 WAR). But Justin Verlander had to throw together a ridiculous season on the mound (24-5, .920 WHIP, 251 IP, 250 K, 8.4 WAR) and topped him. A good year to revive the old argument about whether someone who plays once every five days can be more valuable than someone who plays every day.

***** And by "greener pastures" I mean "more money". I certainly don't mean that New York is a better place to play and he has a better chance of winning. Because let's face it kids, the 2014 Yankees are going to suck.

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