Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Top Five Red Sox Players to Wear Number 10

The '9' jersey was easy to write about. Out of circulation for some time and worn by one of the greatest players ever makes for an easy entry. Then you have the '10' jersey. No less than 30 players have worn this number since 1931. The '10' may have gotten around a lot (worn by Andre Dawson, Luis Alicea, Lee Tinsley and Scott Hatteberg in successive seasons) and doesn't have the most impressive pedigree (who can forget the immortal Mike Brumley?) but some fine players have worn this number.

5. Coco Crisp (2006-2008) - The starting center-fielder for most of 2007, what Crisp brought to the Sox more than anything else was stellar defense. He was flat-out robbed of a Gold Glove at the end of 2007, a season where he made insane catches look routine. 2007 was a good season overall for Crisp. He did rank in the Top 10 in the AL for doubles and triples, and was 9th in the AL in stolen bases with 28. Add that to his excellent glove (ninth in Defensive WAR in the AL | Led AL CF in range factor for 2007) and you can see why he was solid trade material at the end of 2008. It's just a shame that the player the Sox got back was Ramon Ramirez.

4. Gerald Moses (1968-70) - A lot of you are probably going "Who?" and no one could blame you. Moses was a back-up catcher for the Sox in 1968 and 1969 before becoming the starter in 1970. That year he went to the All-Star game, his sole achievement of note in the major leagues. That fall he was traded to the California Angels. I know some of you will say "Why isn't Coco fourth?" All-Star games matter, my friends. Moses went to one and Crisp didn't.

3. Rich Gedman (1981-1990) - Geds had the utterly unenviable task of taking over for Carlton Fisk after management completely fucked up his contract signing and split time with Gary Allenson for a couple of years before the Sox finally went with Gedman full-time in 1984. What people seem to forget about Rich is that he wasn't a bad catcher. He finished second in the AL Rookie of the Year voting in 1981, losing out to Yankee pitcher and Sox torturer Dave Righetti (as if 8-4 is some big deal.) He did win The Sporting News Rookie of the Year honors, however. Gedman went to two All-Star games (1985-86) and finished in the Top 25 for AL MVP voting in 1985. Plus, he was a local kid from Worcester and that was always a cool thing to see. Unfortunately, after 1986 Gedman had a lot of injury problems and was never a full-time catcher again for the Sox. In 1990 he was dealt to the Houston Astros for the proverbial "player to be named later."

In a cool turn of events, Rich Gedman is a hitting coach with the Sox Double-A affiliate in Portland, ME. I got to meet him at a Sea Dogs function and basically act like a six-year-old, stammering about how I saw him play for Boston's AA affiliate in Bristol, CT in 1979. He was gracious and genuinely appreciative that I remembered something like that. Bottom line: Rich Gedman is awesome.

2. Billy Goodman (1948-57) Goodman was a two-time All-Star (1949, 53) for the Sox. Interestingly, he went for two different positions. Goodman played first base in 1949 but by 1953 was the Sox second baseman, having taken over for Bobby Doerr. Goodman finished fourth in the Rookie of the Year voting in 1948. Some guy named Alvin Dark finished first (that's a joke.) Goodman would finish in the Top 25 for AL MVP voting five times (1950-54) and finished second in 1950. That year he hit .354, leading the AL. Despite that, Phil Rizutto won the MVP award even though he had a lower batting average and OPS than Goodman.

Goodman was Top 10 in batting average five times (1950, 52-55), in OBP four times (1948, 50-51, 55) and runs twice (1951, 55). He also finished Top 10 in hits three times (1951, 53, 55) and in singles and doubles five times (1951-55 for both). Goodman also had good plate discipline, finishing in the Top 10 for At Bats per Strikeout five times (1949, 52-55). In 1953 he struck out only every 46.7 at-bats. That led the AL and is the kind of number you never see these days. By comparison, Victor Martinez led the AL last year with a AB/K rate of 9.8. The last time any batter in the AL topped 40 was 1962 when Nellie Fox had an AB/K rate of 51.8. The last time anyone, in any league, had an AB/K rate that was even over 20 was 2001 when Juan Pierre had a rate of 21.3. That is how disciplined Goodman was at the plate.

During the 1957 season Goodman was traded to the Orioles for pitcher Mike Fornieles, who spent about 5 1/2 seasons in Boston and won a total of 39 games and saved 48. Interesting note; Goodman was traded from the Orioles after the 1957 season to the White Sox. Also sent to Chicago was a young outfielder named Tito Francona, to whom we all owe a huge debt for raising such a fine son. In 2004 Goodman was posthumously voted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame, having died at the age of 58 in 1984.

1. Lefty Grove (1934-41) - One of the all-time great pitchers, Robert Moses Grove came to the Sox in 1934 in one of the all-time great steals. The Sox sent the Athletics $125,000, Bob Kline and Rabbit Warstler. It's the kind of deal the Yankees always put over on the Sox in the 20s.

Grove went to five All-Star games while pitching for the Sox (1935-39). He finished in the Top 15 for AL MVP voting three times (1935-36, 39) and Top 25 once more (1938). In his eight seasons with the Sox, Grove went 105-62. He led the AL in ERA four times (1935-36, 38-39). He was Top 10 in wins four times (1935-37, 39). He was Top 10 in strikeouts three times (1935-37) and K/9IP four times (1935-38). Grove led the AL in shutouts in 1936 with 6 and was Top 10 four times (1935-37, 39). Grove was also Top 10 in complete games four times (1935-37, 39). He led pitchers in WAR for three years straight (1935-37) and was Top 5 in 1938 and 1939.

Not surprisingly, between his time in Philly and Boston Grove made the Hall of Fame without any trouble in 1947 (Sadly, he went in as an Athletic. I guess those two World Series titles and 195 wins had something to do with it). He is considered the second-best lefty of all-time after Warren Spahn and was also named to the MLB All-Century team in 1999. He is also in the Red Sox Hall of Fame.

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