Boston Red Sox: Franchise Leaders by WAR and its Components

Rally's WAR database is my favorite baseball-related toy since I got that All Time Great Teams stats disc for Earl Weaver Baseball for the Apple II. Both provided me hours of playtime. It occurred to me a couple weeks ago that I could take the WAR CSV, sort the individual seasons by franchise code, use the "Subtotals" feature in OpenOffice (that I'm so glad I found), and come up with some all time franchise leaders. So, today I'm bringing you some all time WAR (and WAR component) leaders for my hometown team, the Boston Red Sox.

I know, I know. The Red Sox. You hear enough about them. Do I plan to do other franchises? Well, you tell me. Doing all thirty teams would be a bit much, but if there are specific franchises you'd like to see, let me know.

Okay, let's jump into it:

By total WAR:

Boston Red Sox Career WAR Leaders, Position Players
Rank Name PA WAR
1 Ted Williams 9766 125.3
2 Carl Yastrzemski 13873 88.7
3 Wade Boggs 7239 71.5
4 Dwight Evans 10114 61.1
5 Tris Speaker 4449 56.2
6 Bobby Doerr 7913 47.7
7 Jim Rice 8959 41.5
8 Nomar Garciparra 4293 40.9
9 Harry Hooper 7150 39.1
10 Carlton Fisk 4308 37.7
11 Rico Petrocelli 6077 35.6
12 Jimmie Fox 3918 33.6
13 Reggie Smith 4225 32.6
14 Dom DiMaggio 6421 31.9
15 Manny Ramirez 4645 31.2
16 Johnny Pesky 4689 30.6
17 John Valentin 4193 30.5
18 Fred Lynn 3457 29.7
19 Larry Gardner 4329 27.8
20 Joe Cronin 4495 26.9
21 Jimmy Collins 3150 26.6
22 David Ortiz 4324 25.2
23 Freddy Parent 4092 25.1
24 Mo Vaughn 4418 24.0
25 Mike Greenwell 5122 23.5
26 Jason Varitek 5405 22.6
27 Babe Ruth 1308 22.2
28 Kevin Youkilis 2825 21.1
29 Trot Nixon 3770 20.5
30 Jackie Jenson 4456 20.4

Initial thoughts: You'd think Manny Ramirez (#15), David Ortiz (#22), and Mo Vaughn (#24) would be higher. Alas, WAR is all about total value, not just mashing. I expect these guys will do better in the Batting Runs component we'll look at in a bit. A pair of surprises for me were the high rankings of Reggie Smith (who I'm starting to see is severely underrated) and John Valentin (man, did he have some big years). Since Nomar Garciaparra announced his retirement, it has been stated a few times (including by our own Satchel Price) that he provided a ton of value while with Boston. That is evident here.

Boston Red Sox Career WAR Leaders, Pitchers
Rank Name Innings WAR
1 Roger Clemens 2776 74.8
2 Cy Young 2728.4 56.3
3 Pedro Martinez 1383.7 47.6
4 Lefty Grove 1539.6 38.7
5 Luis Tiant 1774.6 34.0
6 Tim Wakefield 2711.2 31.5
7 Mel Parnell 1752.6 29.0
8 Joe Wood 1418.1 26.6
9 Tex Hughson 1375.6 24.4
10 Ellis Kinder 1142.4 24.2
11 Frank Sullivan 1505.4 23.1
12 Dennis Leonard 1361.3 22.8
13 Joe Dobson 1544.1 22.6
14 Bob Stanley 1707.1 21.5
15 Bill Monbouquette 1622 19.6
16 Dennis Eckersley 1371.7 19.4
17 Ray Collins 1336.1 19.3
18 Derek Lowe 1037 18.4
19 Babe Ruth 1190.3 18.3
20 Bill Lee 1503.3 17.8
21 Bruce Hurst 1459 17.7
22 Bill Dinneen 1501.1 16.4
23 Wes Ferrell 877.6 15.9
24 Fritz Ostermueller 1083.5 15.6
25 Dick Radatz 557.3 14.9
26 Carl Mays 1105 14.8
27 Jonathan Papelbon 297.9 14.7
28 Calvin Schiraldi 675 14.5
29 Howard Ehmke 989.7 14.3
30 Josh Beckett 792 14.1

Initial thoughts: Who are some of these guys? Seriously, 24 WAR gets you in the Top 10? That's what Mo Vaughn has and he ranks 24th among hitters. Wake may be closing in on the club win record, but he's still way behind in WAR. Papelbon will pass Radatz this year and can then focus his attention on Bob Stanley (though I wonder how much of Stanley's WAR came from his 85 career starts). Derek Lowe ranks nicely—he's #18 (ahead of some guy named Babe Ruth).


By WAR used as a rate stat

Of course, total WAR doesn't tell the whole story. Here are the WAR leaders compared to their playing time.

Boston Red Sox Career WAR per 700 Plate Appearances Leaders, Minimum 2000 PA
Rank Name PA WAR/700 PA
1 Ted Williams 9766 8.98
2 Tris Speaker 4449 8.84
3 Wade Boggs 7239 6.91
4 Nomar Garciparra 4293 6.67
5 Carlton Fisk 4308 6.13
6 Fred Lynn 3457 6.01
7 Jimmie Fox 3918 6.00
8 Jimmy Collins 3150 5.91
9 Reggie Smith 4225 5.40
10 Kevin Youkilis 2825 5.23
11 John Valentin 4193 5.09
12 Vern Stephens 2868 4.91
13 Pete Runnels 2971 4.71
14 Manny Ramirez 4645 4.70
15 Dustin Pedroia 2086 4.70
16 Johnny Pesky 4689 4.57
17 Larry Gardner 4329 4.50
18 Carl Yastrzemski 13873 4.48
19 Freddy Parent 4092 4.29
20 Dwight Evans 10114 4.23

Initial thoughts: Wow, look at Yaz (#2 to #18) and Evans (#4 to #20) drop. This is where guys like Fred Lynn (#18 to #6) and Vern Stephens (off the list at #31 up to #12) can jump up the list. Also of note is that Babe Ruth doesn't have the plate appearances to qualify (1308), but still posted 11.88 WAR per 700 PA.

When talking about Wins Above MVP Level, we decided that 6 WAR was a good baseline for an MVP season. During their time in Boston, Ted Williams, Tris Speaker, Wade Boggs, Nomar Garciaparra, Carlton Fisk, Fred Lynn, and Jimmie Foxx averaged an MVP performance every season. Jimmy Collins was right behind them. The next three are (again) the underrated Reggie Smith, the active Kevin Youkilis, and the previously mentioned John Valentin. I also find it interesting that Youk appears ahead of Manny Ramirez, who happens to be tied with Dustin Pedroia. I love you, total value metrics.

Oh, and where the heck is Jim Rice?

(Answer: Way down the list with 3.24 WAR per 700 PA.)

Boston Red Sox Career WAR per 200 Innings Pitched Leaders, Minimum 200 IP
Rank Name WAR/200 IP Innings
1 Jonathan Papelbon 9.87 297.9
2 Pedro Martinez 6.88 1383.7
3 Roger Clemens 5.39 2776
4 Dick Radatz 5.35 557.3
5 Lefty Grove 5.03 1539.6
6 Jon Lester 4.70 557.9
7 Frank Viola 4.68 452.7
8 Calvin Schiraldi 4.30 675
9 Ellis Kinder 4.24 1142.4
10 Cy Young 4.13 2728.4
11 Daisuke Matsuzaka 3.98 431.7
12 Tom Burgmeier 3.94 411
13 Mike Boddicker 3.93 528.7
14 Luis Tiant 3.83 1774.6
15 Buck O'Brien 3.77 413.7
16 Joe Wood 3.75 1418.1
17 Wes Ferrell 3.62 877.6
18 Josh Beckett 3.56 792
19 Derek Lowe 3.55 1037
20 Tex Hughson 3.55 1375.6

Initial thoughts: No, this does not mean that if they put Papelbon in the rotation he would produce 10 WAR seasons annually. He generally only pitches in high leverage situations, which gives those innings more value in WAR. Relievers Dick Radatz (4th) and Calvin Schiraldi (8th) ranks highly while Ellis Kinder (9th) pitched in both roles. Jon Lester (6th) surprised me in particular, the fact that he ranked so highly while Beckett was way down at #18. The fact that Dice-K slotted in seven spots above Beckett surprised me, too. Cy Young only ranks tenth. That looks low, but remember we're using per 200 IP here. He generally pitched about 1.2 million innings per season.


By WAR components (for position players)

Many different components go into WAR—everything from hitting to baserunning to range. Let's take a look at the leaders for some of the components.

Boston Red Sox Career Batting Runs Above Average
Rank Name Bat
1 Ted Williams 1077
2 Carl Yastrzemski 460
3 Wade Boggs 406
4 Dwight Evans 341
5 Tris Speaker 328
6 Manny Ramirez 309
7 Jimmie Fox 286
8 Jim Rice 279
9 David Ortiz 229
10 Mo Vaughn 225

Initial thoughts: Really hits home how incredible Ted Williams was. Otherwise, not a ton of surprises here, really. There's Manny, Rice, Ortiz, and Vaughn—four of the guys who take a beating in most of the remaining components. Yaz and Evans still stand up big. That's important since both were not one trick ponies. In fact, Yaz was anything but as you're about to see.

Boston Red Sox Career Baserunning Runs Above Average
Rank Name BSrun
1 Dom DiMaggio 25
2 Johnny Damon 23
3 Johnny Pesky 22
4 Harry Hooper 16
5 Carlton Fisk 14
6 Jacoby Ellsbury 14
7 Tris Speaker 13
8 Reggie Smith 13
9 Tommy Harper 13
10 Billy Goodman 11
11 Billy Werber 11
12 Billy Klaus 11
13 Coco Crisp 11

Initial thoughts: Ranking the greatest baserunners in Red Sox history is similar to ranking the best slap shot among Red Sox players. It just hasn't traditionally been a focus of the franchise. Jacoby is already tied for fifth (with a catcher! Ha!). Tommy Harper, a name Red Sox fans know for his longtime (albeit modest) club stolen base record, ranks right behind him in a 3-way tie. Johnny Damon is impressive, ranking right at the top with DiMaggio and Pesky.

Boston Red Sox Career Total Zone (Range) Runs Above Average
Rank Name TZ
1 Carl Yastrzemski 131
2 Jimmy Piersall 88
3 John Valentin 74
4 Wade Boggs 73
5 Everett Scott 65
6 Harry Hooper 62
7 Rico Petrocelli 62
8 Hobe Ferris 58
9 Tris Speaker 55
10 Jimmy Collins 50
11 Nomar Garciparra 50

Initial thoughts: Holy Yaz! That's quite the lead over Piersall. Valentin, already mentioned here a couple times, rates very well. He had three 20+ TZ seasons. Wade Boggs, though? I remember him getting no respect with the glove, then leaving and magically getting a Gold Glove with the Yankees. You know, Boggs was just really freakin' good. Nomar rounds out the list. Didn't he get traded partly because of diminished range (and a grumpy attitude)? Yes. Total Zone before 2004? +55. Total Zone from 2004 onward? –20.

Boston Red Sox Career Outfield Arm Runs Above Average
Rank Name OFarm
1 Carl Yastrzemski 54
2 Dwight Evans 51
3 Jimmy Piersall 24
4 Reggie Smith 21
5 Rick Miller 14
6 Jim Rice 13
7 Fred Lynn 12
8 Manny Ramirez 10
9 Gary Geiger 7
10 Mike Greenwell 6
11 Gene Stephens 6
12 Ellis Burks 6

Initial thoughts: Yaz again. This time, Evans is right there with him. Piersall again ranks well, but there's quite the gap between him and Evans. Rice and Ramirez actually rate pretty well here. So, basically when there's power involved, they do well. Greenwell rating as a positive arm surprises me. I remember him being Damon-esque. For the record, Damon's arm is worth –49 runs for his career. With the Red Sox, he was –15.

Boston Red Sox Career Catching Runs Above Average, Minimum 3 runs
Rank Name Catch
1 Carlton Fisk 26
2 Rich Gedman 15
3 Lou Criger 12
4 Gene Desautels 6
5 Roxy Walters 5
6 Marc Sullivan 4
7 Tony Peña 4
8 Rick Ferrell 4
9 Hick Cady 3

Initial thoughts: Wow, there are really only three catchers with any significant value behind the plate. Fisk is obvious while Gedman always had a good reputation as well. Where the heck is Varitek? Varitek is at the break-even point for his career. What does that mean for his reputation or for the statistic itself? Well, Varitek is popular for a lot of things you just can't measure. If his preparation makes a pitcher's performance better, the value goes to the pitcher, not to him. If he helps position an outfielder, the value goes to the outfielder's total zone, not Tek's. The Red Sox traditionally have ignored the stolen base. This really hurts Varitek's catcher rating.


By WAR in a single season

Boston Red Sox Single Season WAR Leaders, Position Players
Rank Name Year WAR
1 Carl Yastrzemski 1967 12.2
2 Ted Williams 1946 11.8
3 Ted Williams 1941 11.3
4 Tris Speaker 1912 11.0
5 Ted Williams 1942 11.0
6 Babe Ruth 1919 10.6
7 Ted Williams 1947 10.3
8 Carl Yastrzemski 1968 10.1
9 Tris Speaker 1914 10.0
10 Ted Williams 1957 9.9
11 Ted Williams 1949 9.5
12 Rico Petrocelli 1969 9.3
13 Wade Boggs 1987 9.1
14 Carl Yastrzemski 1970 9.1
15 Ted Williams 1948 8.9
16 Wade Boggs 1988 8.7
17 Wade Boggs 1986 8.6
18 Wade Boggs 1985 8.5
19 John Valentin 1995 8.5
20 Fred Lynn 1979 8.4

Initial thoughts: Not terribly surprising, we see Williams, Yaz, Boggs, and Speaker here an awful lot. Yaz's MVP & Triple Crown year (1967) takes the cake while Williams' famous .406 year is bested by his 1946 MVP campaign. Williams other MVP year, 1949, ranks 10th while his Triple Crown years (1942 and 1947) rank 5th and 6th, respectively. The list also features single seasons by Babe Ruth, Rico Petrocelli, John Valentin, and Fred Lynn. You would expect Lynn's MVP/Rookie of the Year campaign of 1975 to appear. Instead it was his 1979 season. The 1975 year was worth 7.1 WAR.

How about the worst performances by a hitter?

Boston Red Sox WORST Single Season WAR Leaders, Position Players
Rank Name Year WAR
1 George Scott 1968 –2.9
2 Jackie Gutierrez 1984 –2.7
3 Shano Collins 1923 –2.4
4 Billy Hatcher 1992 –2.1
5 Rabbit Warstler 1932 –2.0

Initial thoughts: After being worth +27 runs with the bat in 1967, Scott dropped to –23 in 1968 (thanks to a line of .171/.236/.237—from a first baseman!—for an OPS of .473 and an OPS+ of 39). Oof. In 1984, Gutierrez combined a –24 at the plate with a –17 range at short (and also –5 in turning two).

Boston Red Sox Single Season WAR Leaders, Pitchers
Rank Name Year WAR
1 Cy Young 1901 11.2
2 Pedro Martinez 2000 10.1
3 Joe Wood 1912 9.6
4 Roger Clemens 1990 9.5
5 Lefty Grove 1936 8.9
6 Cy Young 1902 8.9
7 Roger Clemens 1987 8.4
8 Pedro Martinez 1999 8.4
9 Cy Young 1908 8.2
10 Cy Young 1904 8.1
11 Lefty Grove 1937 8.0
12 Mel Parnell 1949 8.0
13 Roger Clemens 1986 7.9
14 Roger Clemens 1992 7.9
15 Dutch Leonard 1914 7.9
16 Roger Clemens 1996 7.7
17 Lefty Grove 1935 7.7
18 Roger Clemens 1991 7.5
19 Luis Tiant 1974 7.5
20 Pedro Martinez 2003 7.4
21 Babe Ruth 1916 7.4

Initial thoughts: Like the hitter list, a lot of repeat performers. This time, it's Cy Young, Pedro Martinez, Roger Clemens, and Lefty Grove. Smokey Joe Wood has a single season appear on the list (his remarkable 1912 season) and it's all the way up at #3. Mel Parnell, Dutch Leonard, Luis Tiant, and Babe Ruth also appear on the list once. Roger Clemens' Cy Young seasons (1986, 1987, and 1991) rank at #13, #7, and #18, respectively. Pedro's Cy Young years are #7 and #2 (1999 and 2000). Cy Young, of course, holds the record for most career wins without ever winning a Cy Young Award.

And the worst:

Boston Red Sox WORST Single Season WAR Leaders, Pitchers
Rank Name Year WAR
1 Ray Caldwell 1919 -2.9
2 Jerry Stephenson 1968 -2.5
3 Fred Anderson 1913 -2.4
4 Hugh Bedient 1914 -2.3
5 Emmett O'Neill 1945 -2.2

Initial thoughts: 1968 has both a hitter and a pitcher ranked highly on the list. Stephenson managed to be 2.5 runs below replacement in less than 70 innings. He had an ERA+ of 24 to go along with a WHIP of 1.791. Caldwell's 1919 total wasn't actually a full season. He spent 1910 to 1918 with the Yankees, picking up 23.5 WAR. Then he went to Boston and coughed up a –2.9 WAR in 86 innings. His raw numbers didn't look that bad—7–4 with a 3.96 ERA and 70 ERA+. What really hurt him was that weird "X" component in Rally's pitcher WAR (otherwise he was more or less replacement level). That's defined as:

X - Runs saved or allowed beyond measurable impact of hits, homers, walks, strikeouts, and HBP. This is a catch-all category that includes holding and picking off runners, defensive support including the DP, errors in the field, timing of events (pitching better or worse with runners on base), or any other explanation you can think of.

Caldwell ended up departing for Cleveland where he actually was worth 1.1 WAR (giving him a net WAR of –1.8 on the year). He then picked up 0.9 WAR in two more seasons for Cleveland (one of them a 20-win campaign). It's almost like he was sent to Boston to ruin them.


Going through these numbers made me realize that the number of longtime, incredibly productive pitchers in franchise history certainly trails the number of hitters. Offensively, Ted Williams, Wade Boggs, Carl Yastrzemski, and Tris Speaker lead a pack of amazing hitters that also includes Dwight Evans, Nomar Garciaparra, and Carlton Fisk. Among the pitchers, it is clearly Cy Young, Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez, and Lefty Grove. Papelbon and Radatz top the reliever list. This is beginning to look like an All-Time Red Sox team, so let's have at it:

  • Catcher: Carlton Fisk (37.7 WAR, 6.1 WAR/700)
  • First Base: Jimmie Foxx (33.6 WAR, 6.0 WAR/700)
  • Second Base: Bobby Doerr (47.7 WAR, 4.2 WAR/700)
  • Third Base: Wade Boggs (71.5 WAR, 6.9 WAR/700)
  • Shortstop: Nomar Garciaparra (40.9 WAR, 6.7 WAR/700)
  • Outfield: Ted Williams (125.3 WAR, 9.0 WAR/700)
  • Outfield: Carl Yastrzemski (88.7 WAR, 4.5 WAR/700)
  • Outfield: Tris Speaker (56.2 WAR, 8.8 WAR/700)
  • Starting Pitcher: Roger Clemens (74.8 WAR, 5.4 WAR/200)
  • Starting Pitcher: Cy Young (56.3 WAR, 4.1 WAR/200)
  • Starting Pitcher: Pedro Martinez (47.6 WAR, 6.9 WAR/200)
  • Starting Pitcher: Lefty Grove (38.7 WAR, 5.0 WAR/200)
  • Relief Pitcher: Jonathan Papelbon (14.7 WAR, 9.9 WAR/200)
  • Relief Pitcher: Dick Radatz (14.9 WAR, 5.4 WAR/200)

Beyond that squad, the offense has a lot more depth (Jim Rice, Fred Lynn, Harry Hooper, Rico Petrocelli, Reggie Smith, Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, etc.) than the pitching staff (Luis Tiant, Tim Wakefield, Mel Parnell, Joe Wood, Ellis Kinder, etc.). But I'd certainly take the field with that lineup as my all time team.

So, what caught your eye? Any other franchises you'd like to see?

Update: Sharp reader mickeyg13 pointed out that I missed Babe Ruth's 1919 season (can you blame a Red Sox fan for being in denial over that one?). The post has been updated.

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