A decade full of ups and downs to both extremes for Red Sox fans. We got to see two titles, something only one other franchise can say. We also suffered through three last place finishes. Only Baltimore has finished in the AL East basement more in that time span. Maybe the best news of the decade? The Yankees not winning a ring. Not a single one!
Throughout the last ten seasons of Boston baseball, there’s been some incredible players. From future Hall of Famers to perennial all-stars, we’ve been blessed with the amount of talent that has put on the Red Sox uniform in the past decade.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, with so many top notch players who’ve played here that didn’t make the all-decade team. However, without further ado, those who did make the team are as follows:
RF: Mookie Betts
1B: Kevin Youkilis
CF: Jacoby Ellsbury
DH: David Ortiz
2B: Dustin Pedroia
SS: Xander Bogaerts
3B: Rafael Devers
LF: Shane Victorino
Some spots here were easier to fill than others. Betts, Ortiz, Pedroia and Bogaerts were all easy picks. None of the four face any debate when it comes to their impact on the Red Sox of the 2010s. Then there’s some other guys who were extremely impactful, but faced competition at their positions.
The 2013 World Series doesn’t happen without Shane Victorino, that’s a fact. That impact is enough to hand him a spot above some other solid outfielders.
Kevin Youkilis was one of the most disciplined players the Red Sox have ever seen. However since he only spent a couple years this decade in Boston, a case could be made for Adrian Gonzalez or Mitch Moreland.
Could Adrian Beltre be in this starting nine? Absolutely. In theory, though, his one season with Boston was as good as Devers was in 2019. So if those cancel out, and you include Rafael’s production from 2017 and 2018, he was the clearcut starter.
A similar case can be made for Victor Martinez. Only 183 games with the team, but an extremely productive 183 games at that. However, Christian Vazquez has done more for this team and it has been over a longer period of time. Vazquez is an extremely talented defender, much more than V-Mart was at that point of his career, which helps give Christian the nod.
The final member of the starting lineup, who deserves a specific mention, is Jacoby Ellsbury. If us Sox fans could take our “Yankees-hate-blinders” off, we’d all have Ellsbury in this starting nine. He was a focal point on the 2013 team, and could have won MVP in 2011. He came up through the Red Sox system, delivered on expectations and helped the team win a ring. Did he have the career that everyone expected? Maybe not. Maybe him taking the money in New York was a bad move, and a move that Red Sox fans will hate him for. But he was one of the best players we saw this decade, and absolutely deserves his spot here.
A couple no-brainers head the rotation. Chris Sale is a Hall of Fame caliber talent, and probably the best pitcher the Red Sox have had since Pedro. Jon Lester, the last big time home-grown starter Boston has produced. Lester’s courageous battle and heartfelt story give him a special spot in every Red Sox fan’s heart, but he also delivered on the field. A 3.33 ERA in his first four seasons as a full-time member of the rotation, and a helping hand in two World Series titles.
Clay Buchholz seemed to struggle with his consistency and with his ability to stay on the field. At most times, it was frustrating. However, now that it’s said and done, we look at the big picture and it’s one that shows how good Clay really was. 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2015 were all terrific seasons from Buchholz, and he was one of the driving forces that got the Red Sox going early on in the 2013 campaign. His time in Boston should be remembered as a fond one for Red Sox fans, when looking at his overall impact.
The last couple spots were tougher to fill. Guys like David Price, Josh Beckett and Eduardo Rodriguez all certainly have a case. Yet John Lackey and Rick Porcello felt like the right choices. Yes, each of them struggled for the majority of their time in Boston. Lackey had an ERA of 4.46, Porcello had a 4.43. Eerily similar pitchers if you think about it. Each of them also delivered seasons that will etch their names in Red Sox lore forever.
Lackey, in 2013, battled back from a terrible 2011 and an injury-plagued 2012. He became one of the go-to starters, and turned in a gem in Game 3 of the ALCS in Detroit, opposite Verlander. He followed that up with two solid starts in the World Series, a clean 8th inning out of the bullpen in game 4, and becoming the first pitcher to start the clinching game of a World Series with two different teams (2002 Angels).
Porcello, in 2016, defied all the odds set out against him. He signed a massive extension with the team in 2015 before even stepping on the mound at Fenway. He was brutal that season, and Red Sox fans had already written him off. So what does Rick do? He comes back in 2016 with a 3.15 ERA, the best K/BB ratio in the league and a Cy Young award. Whether he was deserving of that award will forever be debated, but nobody can debate the impact Rick had, and how good he was that year. Possibly the best single season by a starting pitcher of the decade for Boston, and a World Champion. A well-deserved spot for Porcello here.
Rounding out the 25-man All-Decade roster for the Red Sox is the bullpen. A bullpen that, in 2019, stirred up a lot of talk as the downfall of the team. However, over the past ten years, there’s been some great arms available in relief for Boston. It starts with Koji Uehara. Up in the highest echelon in Red Sox history of most dominant relievers, Koji’s 2013 was as good as it gets. Over 74.1 innings, he posted a 1.09 ERA with a 0.57 WHIP with a career-best 12.2 SO/9. He was beyond reliable down the stretch and was instrumental in the club’s title in 2013.
Before Uehara was Jonathan Papelbon. Six straight years of dominance to close out his Red Sox career as one of the most efficient closers in team history. He’s most remembered for the final out in the 2007 World Series, but his regular season numbers are often overlooked. People remember Pap being good, but he was truly great. Since he had become the full-time closer in 2006, he pitched in 379 games. Pabelbon posted an ERA of 2.30 and an ERA+ of 199, while allowing only 27 home runs in almost 400 innings.
A couple guys who played more minor roles on championship teams were Daniel Bard & Craig Breslow. Bard posted a 2.88 ERA in the first 192 games of his career, setting himself up for a tremendous career a reliever. However, injuries and an attempt to convert him to a starter led to his downfall quickly in 2013. Nonetheless, Bard was the second-best member of that bullpen (to Papelbon) for three straight seasons, and was really fun to watch when he was on his game. As for Breslow, he is on here simply for his performance in 2013. It’s often overshadowed because of Uehara’s all-time season, but Craig Breslow was extremely good in 2013 for the Red Sox. He followed up a 1.88 ERA in the regular season with a 2.45 in the playoffs across 10 appearances, cementing himself as a folk hero in Boston baseball history.
Which leaves us which three members of arguably the greatest Red Sox team of all time, the 2018 squad. Joe Kelly, Brandon Workman and Craig Kimbrel are forever etched into Boston history. At one point or another in that season, each of them played an intricate role and had a memorable moment in the success of 2018. Kelly helped carry that bullpen through the playoffs, while Kimbrel and Workman have provided stability and consistency in the Sox bullpen for many years. They each have absolutely earned a spot of the seven relievers on the All-Decade team.