Editor’s note: NESN.com is holding a three-week tournament to determine “Boston’s Best Newcomer.” The Red Sox added a lot of new faces in 2013, and the results have been impressive. It’s time to determine which new addition from 2013 best embodies Boston baseball.
The 2013 Red Sox are successful, likeable and poised to make a deep playoff run. Boston has a ton of new faces to thank for its turnaround.
The Red Sox brought in a number of key veterans in the offseason and throughout the year. The goal was to improve not only the roster, but also the clubhouse culture. An emphasis was placed on acquiring players who are both talented and possess a lot of character. The Red Sox have discovered that it’s a winning formula.
The veterans that the Red Sox have acquired since the end of the 2012 season, which ended with a disappointing 69-93 record, are all unique. They’re also becoming more well-known to Boston baseball fans as we head down the stretch and toward the postseason.
But which player acquired over the last 11 months is Red Sox Nation’s favorite? Red Sox fans typically gravitate toward players who combine on-field success with a dash of personality, and a number of this season’s newcomers fit that mold.
Fans are asked to consider the players’ total package (personality, style of play, on-field success, impact, intangibles, etc.) while voting for their favorite. NESN.com’s “Boston’s Best Newcomer” tournament will determine which 2013 newcomer best personifies Red Sox baseball.
Weight: 230 pounds
MLB experience: 11 years
Acquired: Signed as a free agent (two-year, $10 million deal)
Jonny Gomes has bounced around in recent years, and he seems to win everywhere he goes.
Gomes signed a two-year deal with the Red Sox in the offseason, and many wondered whether he’d be the club’s starting left fielder or serve as more of a platoon option. The latter has been true for the most part, but Gomes has been able to leave his mark time and time again in 2013.
Whether it’s feasting on left-handed pitching while in the starting lineup or coming off the bench at a crucial point in the game, Gomes has won fans over with his flair for the dramatic. The 32-year-old outfielder has come up with numerous timely hits this season, and he has established himself as one of the best pinch hitters in baseball.
Gomes has even come up with some big plays in the field, which is gravy considering his power at the plate is his biggest asset. It seems like every time the Red Sox have needed someone to step up, Gomes has been there to answer the call. Simply put, he’s been clutch, and everyone has fed off his energy.
Gomes also brought a unique personality to Boston. His fun, yet focused attitude has been held in high regard throughout his many destinations, and Boston is now reaping the benefits of his contagious approach.
“People judge a book by its cover. That’s not accurate in this case — Jonny thinks like a manager. … Every situation we face, he has thought it through. He’s a very intelligent player. I don’t think he gets enough credit for that.” (Aug. 4)
Height: 6 feet
Weight: 190 pounds
MLB experience: 8 years
Acquired: Signed as a free agent (one-year, $9.5 million deal)
Stephen Drew just keeps going about his business, and it’s led to an excellent season for the veteran shortstop.
Some questioned the Red Sox signing Drew in the offseason. Jose Iglesias was still in the mix, Xander Bogaerts looks like he’s poised to become a fantastic major league shortstop and Drew’s brother, J.D., had one of the more polarizing Red Sox tenures in recent years. But Drew has proven to be a very valuable piece of the Red Sox’ 2013 puzzle through solid defense and consistent hitting.
Drew went through some early offensive struggles after missing the start of the season because of a concussion, but he’s been a reliable presence in Boston’s lineup ever since. His sweet swing looks effortless, yet it gets the job done. There was even a stretch this season when Drew was one of the Red Sox’ best hitters.
Drew has also come up with some timely hits for Boston. The easiest way to a fan’s heart is to produce when it matters most, and Drew has been clutch all season. If that continues into the playoffs, Red Sox fans could be calling for him to be more than just a one-year bridge to Bogaerts.
“He’s technically sound. He might not show you the flash that some other shortstops do, but as far as turning double play and making every play at different points or critical points of the game, he’s very dependable.” (Aug. 27)