COMMENTARY | March Madness isn't just for college basketball. Brackets seem to pop up all over the place. Whether it's sports, pop culture, politics, or something completely off the grid, everyone seems to want to build a tournament. So, why not for the Boston Red Sox? Here is a list of the eight greatest Red Sox of all-time, in true bracket fashion.
1. Ted Williams - Arguably the greatest hitter in the history of baseball. A 19-time All-Star, two-time MVP and Triple Crown winner, six-time batting champ, and four-time home run champ. Williams hit .406 for the year in 1941. His numbers would have been even better if it weren't for three years away from the game to serve during World War II. Williams was a career .344 hitter, with a staggering 1.116 OPS. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1966, Williams always goes down as one of the game's all-time greats.
2. Pedro Martinez - What Pedro was able to do during the steroid era was simply astonishing. In seven years in Boston, Martinez won 117 games with a 252 ERA, won two of his three CY Young Awards for the Sox, and nearly took home the MVP in 1999. He finished with an amazing 1.054 career WHIP. Again, all of this was done with a juiced ball and juiced players.
3. Carl Yastrzemski - Yaz was highly decorated in his 23-year career. The 18-time All-Star finished with over 3,000 hits and over 1,800 RBIs. He was a seven-time Gold Glove winner, and the 1967 MVP. Yaz was also the last player to win the Triple Crown before Miguel Cabrera did it last season. He finished with a career average of .285, with a .379 OBP, pretty incredible for a 23-year career. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1989.
4. Cy Young - There's no doubting a player's validity when there is an award named after him. Young won a remarkable 511 games in his career, 189 them with Boston. He struck out over 1,300, and finished with a staggering .97 WHIP with the Red Sox. Reading Young's stats is like finding a first edition of Shakespeare; it simply blows your mind. Again, that's why there's an award named after him. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1937.
5. Babe Ruth - One of the best pitchers ever for Boston, Ruth won 89 games over six seasons for the Sox. His career ERA in Boston was a solid 2.19, with a WHIP of 1.142. Twice in his career, Ruth threw over 300 innings, including his 1916 feat of tossing 323 innings. He finished with a 1.75 ERA. He helped the Sox win three World Series before being traded for a damn play. It's a little known fact that Ruth was also a career .300 hitter for Boston. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1936.
6. Tris Speaker - The 1912 MVP played his first nine years in Boston before heading to Cleveland. Speaker helped the Red Sox to two World Series championships. He finished with over 3,500 hits and 1,800 runs scored. After a 22-year career, Speaker finished with a career batting average of .345, with an awesome OBP of .428. Speaker's MVP year saw an average of .383, OBP of .464 and 136 runs scored. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1937.
7. Roger Clemens - It may not have ended well, but Clemens was very effective in a Red Sox uniform. Clemens won three Cy Young Awards, and an MVP in Boston. He finished with 192 wins with the club and had an ERA of 3.06. The 11-time All-Star went five times to the Mid-Summer Classic as a member of the Red Sox.
8. Jimmie Foxx - He only played in Boston for seven years, but what a seven years it was. Foxx had over 100 RBIs in 12 straight seasons, including six in Boston. The 1938 MVP also hit over 35 HRs in five of those seasons. Foxx was an on-base wizard, finishing his career with a .428 mark. This is a staggering number considering he is known as a power hitter. Foxx was also an All-Star six of the seven seasons he played for the Red Sox. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1951.
Missing the Cut: Carlton Fisk, Dwight Evans, David Ortiz, Bobby Doerr, Jim Rice, Manny Ramirez, Wade Boggs
1. Ted Williams vs. 8. Jimmie Foxx- A battle of supreme hitters. While Foxx had a great power rush with Boston, Williams was the face of hitting in the MLB for his entire career. Williams hit over .300 in 18 out of his 19 seasons, all in Boston. Even though Foxx had more career HRs (534-521), Williams had the better OPS (1.116 to 1.038). In fact, Williams is only second to Ruth in career OPS. Williams moves on to the semis.
2. Pedro Martinez vs. 7. Roger Clemens - A battle of two modern day pitchers who both dominated during the Steroid Era. While Clemens has more wins, Cy Young awards, World Series championships, and All-Star invites, Pedro gets the nod. He was pound-for-pound the most dominant pitcher in his era. Martinez also had a better ERA (2.52 to 3.06) and WHIP (.978 to 1.158) in Boston than Clemens. Pedro's 1999 and 2000 might be the best two year stretch a pitcher ever had, considering how many PEDs were being used in clubhouses league-wide. And most importantly, Pedro did it cleanly. It's hard to say the same thing about Clemens. Pedro also won a World Series in Boston, forever making him a legend.
3. Carl Yastrzemski vs. 6. Tris Speaker - Two of the most efficient hitters the Red Sox ever had. Speaker gains bonus points for helping the Red Sox win two World Series. However, Yaz played his entire 23-year career in Boston. Both were incredible fielders. Yaz won seven Gold Gloves during his career. Speaker was known for playing so shallow he would get unassisted double plays. Both are tremendous picks, but Speaker is the pick. Even though he doesn't have the power numbers, Speaker moves on with a better career average (.345 to .285) and OBP (.428 to .379), outstanding speed, good leather and winning mentality.
4. Cy Young v 5. Babe Ruth - This is a downright triple overtime game donnybrook. Two of the most historically significant players squaring off. Ruth is more known for his swing, but was a very proficient pitcher for the Sox. While Ruth pitched well, Young won over 100 more games in just one more year. If this were about the entire career of a player, Ruth would eclipse Young. However, Young was the more impressive pitcher in Boston.
1. Ted Williams vs 6. Tris Speaker - As good as Speaker was, it's hard to take down Teddy Ballgame. While Williams never stole any bases, he has everything else over Speaker. Championships did come when Speaker was in Boston, but Williams's longevity at the top of so many different categories propels him to the final.
2. Pedro Martinez vs 4. Cy Young - Two dominant pitchers from different eras square off in this matchup. While Pedro dealt extraordinarily well in a more difficult era, Young's numbers are just too incredible to look past. Young's 192 wins in just eight years is simply staggering, even if it was a the Dead Ball Era. Plus, Pedro won an award named after Young. That's the ultimate smack talk. Young to the final.
1. Ted Williams vs 4. Cy Young - The battle of batter v pitcher, the ultimate contest in baseball. While Williams is arguably the greatest hitter of all-time, Young boasts 511 wins. Both are great picks. While Young's winning number will never even come close to being broken, Williams posted numbers against some of the best pitchers baseball has ever seen. It may not have been the Dead Ball Era, but the mounds were still more elevated than they are now, and there was still a real strike zone. For Young, having an award named for him is the greatest achievement possibly ever. However, Williams took three years off to fight for his country and returned to dominate again. Priceless.
Ted Williams is your winner.
Chris Sedenka is a Yahoo! Contributor in Sports covering the Boston Red Sox. You can listen to his daily radio show on 96.3FM in Portland, ME or at thebigjab.com. He is also the voice of the Maine Red Claws of the NBA D-League.
You can follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisSedenka.
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