With the Boston Red Sox getting ready for opening day and celebrating the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park, there is going to be a lot of opportunity to look back at the all-time greats to wear their uniform.
The Red Sox are running a voting contest at bostonredsox.com, but we're jumping the gun here with an all-time team before the season even starts.
The only rule on this team is that you have to have compiled the stats as a Red Sox player and other teams you played on doesn't factor in.
Ladies and gentlemen, your all-time Red Sox team:
Catcher-Carlton Fisk. Jason Varitek is going to get a lot of votes in the Red Sox poll, but Fisk clearly was a much better hitter in Boston and equally defensively. For his Red Sox career, Fisk hit .284 with 162 homers and 568 RBI in 1,078 games.
First base-Jimmy Foxx-Mo Vaughn and Carl Yastrzemski were other candidates, but Foxx is sixth all-time in average at .320 for his Red Sox career with 222 homers, 768 RBI and a slugging percentage of .605, second highest in team history.
Second base-Dustin Pedroia-If he keeps up this pace, Pedrioa will not only be the greatest second baseman in Red Sox history, but he'll be one of the best ever anywhere. He is hitting .305 for his career with an .837 on-base percentage. Bobby Doerr is a Hall of Famer, Pedrioa is the Sox's best.
Shortstop-This is a no-brainer when you look at the stats. Nomar Garciaparra might be the best Red Sox player when you factor in offense and defense. Because he was a shadow of himself as a player at the end of his career, this tends to get overlooked somewhat. As a Red Sox player, No. 5 batted .323 with 178 homers and 690 RBI with a .414 on base percentage.
Third base-Wade Boggs gets the nod in an overall weak field, but as the No. 2 hitter in Red Sox history, he deserves the honor. As a Red Sox player, Boggs hit .338, striking out only 470 times in 6,213 plate appearances. His on-base percentage was .415.
Outfield-The first outfield spot is an easy choice with Ted Williams, the top hitter in Red Sox history at .344. With 521 homers and 1,639 RBI, Williams made unbelievable contact for a power hitter with only 709 strikeouts in 7,706 at bats. He went almost 7,000 plate appearances without striking out.
Outfield-Tris Speaker was one of the all-time greats of baseball, and batted .337 in 10,665 plate appearances and had speed to burn with an amazing 106 triples and 267 stolen bases.
Outfield-The last outfield spot was the hardest to pick in the entire lineup. Fred Lynn, Jim Rice, Manny Ramirez and Yastrzemski were battling for the final spot. Ramirez hit .312 in Boston with 278 homers and 868 RBI and a .516 slugging percentage, beating out Lynn in the end. Yaz is 36th in all-time hitting, just ahead of Jerry Remy, and numbers are big because of the amount of years he played. That counts for something, but there are a lot of average years in there.
DH-David Ortiz is going to win the spot in the Red Sox voting, but Rice was the best DH in Sox history. All Rice did was hit 382 homers with 1,451 RBI and .502 slugging percentage. His 1978 peformance is one of the great hitting feats of all-time.
Starting pitcher: Consider he pitched for the Red Sox in an era dominated by steroid-inflated numbers, what Pedro Martinez did for as long as did in Boston was remarkable, enough to beat out Roger Clemens. As a Red Sox player, Martinez was 117-34 with 2.52 ERA, striking out 1,683 batters and allowing 1,044 hits in 1,383.2 innings. Clemens had a 192-111, 83 more wins than losses, which was better than Martinez, but Martinez only had 103 homers, while Clemens gave up 194.
Relief Pitcher-This is a different category, because this was affected by the changes in the games. Dick Radatz was dominating for bad teams in the 1960s, while Jonathan Papelbon did the same thing recently. I'm declaring a tie here and giving an honorable mention to Bob Stanley with 131 saves. Nobody was better than Keith Foulke in the 2004 World Series run, but his Red Sox career ended as soon as it started.
Now, it's time to play ball for real.