What a decade this was in New England sports! As we move into the 2020s, join NESN.com in looking back at the best of the best with the Red Sox All-Decade Team! (And check out the rest of our ?Best of the Decade? content here.)
Picking the Boston Red Sox’s all-decade team was no easy task.
But hey, if that’s the drawback of winning two World Series titles and 872 games over 10 years (fifth-most in Major League Baseball), so be it.
The 2010s got off to a rough start for Boston, with three straight playoff-less campaigns — including the infamous 2011 season — leaving Red Sox Nation in a state of unrest. But there’s been much to celebrate since then, and some of the best players ever to wear a Red Sox uniform are at the center of it all.
Without further ado, here’s NESN.com’s Red Sox All-Decade Team:
Starting pitchers: Jon Lester (2010-2014), Chris Sale (2017-present), David Price (2016-present)
Three World Series champions, all of whom excelled in October? Yeah, these guys certainly deserve a spot on the all-decade team.
Lester always was a great regular-season pitcher with the Red Sox, but he was particularly dominant during the 2013 playoffs, going 4-1 with a 1.56 ERA and .205 opponents’ batting average. Sale has put up record-setting numbers since joining the Red Sox in 2017, while Price has been far better than many realize, as a 3.84 ERA in a Boston uniform speaks for itself. Of course, both Price and Sale played huge roles in the 2018 playoffs, with Price finally breaking through and flipping the postseason script.
Relief pitchers: Koji Uehara (2013-2016), Craig Kimbrel (2016-2018)
The Red Sox have benefited from having two of the best single-season performances by closers in baseball history.
Uehara was unbelievable in 2013, saving 21 games and posting a 1.09 ERA in his first year with the Red Sox. Uehara allowed just one earned run in the playoffs and eventually recorded the final out in the 2013 World Series before leaping into the arms of David Ortiz. As for Kimbrel, his 2017 campaign — 35 saves, 1.43 ERA, 16.4 strikeouts per nine innings — was dominance personified. Though Kimbrel was shaky during the 2018 playoffs, he nonetheless was a major contributor for one of the greatest teams in franchise history.
First base: Mike Napoli (2013-2015)
A fan favorite from the moment he arrived in Boston, Napoli (and his beard) was a force in the middle of the lineup for the 2013 world champions. His home run in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series might have been the decade’s most underrated play.
The slugger hit .242 with 53 homers and a 187 RBIs over his two-plus seasons in Beantown. Napoli retired from baseball following the 2017 season, which he spent with the Texas Rangers.
Second base: Dustin Pedroia (2006-present)
While Pedroia’s future remains very much up in the air, his legacy in Boston already is set in stone. Building off a sensational close to the 2000s, Pedroia hit .296 with 98 homers and 513 RBIs in the 2010s while winning his second and third World Series titles.
He might be the best second baseman in Red Sox history.
Shortstop: Xander Bogaerts (2013-present)
Somehow, Bogaerts’ career only has gone up since winning the 2013 World Series as a rookie. At the ripe age of 21, Bogaerts played every inning of the Fall Classic.
The Aruba native has developed into a superstar shortstop, hitting .288 with 107 homers and 503 RBIs while making two All-Star teams over the course of his still-young career. He’s coming off his best season yet, as his .309 average, 33 home runs and 110 RBIs helped land him in fifth place in the American League MVP voting. The 27-year-old is entering the first year of a six-year extension he signed last spring.
Third Base: Rafael Devers (2017-present)
Sure, the sample size is small, but Devers deserves to be on this team.
Still just 20 years old, Devers has become one of the best young players in all of baseball. Following a breakout postseason in 2018, the Dominican slugger hit .311 with 32 homers and 115 RBIs in 2019. If Devers’ defense continues to improve, it might not be long before we’re talking about him as the best third baseman in the game.
Outfield: Mookie Betts (2014-present), Andrew Benintendi (2016-present), Jackie Bradley Jr. (2013-present)
This outfield has it all. Perennial MVP candidate? Check. Gold Glove Award winners, including one of the best defensive players in baseball? Yup. All-Star-caliber hitters at each position? You bet.
Betts, Benintendi and Bradley have formed the best outfield in baseball over the past few seasons, and they deserve to be together on the all-decade team. What’s scary is that all three could get even better.
Catcher: Christian Vazquez (2014-present)
Vazquez quietly has become one of the best catchers in all of baseball.
Already one of the best defenders at the position, Vazquez made huge strides at the plate last season, hitting .276 with 23 homers and 72 RBIs. Furthermore, his timely hitting and handling of the pitching staff during the 2018 postseason proves the Puerto Rico native is capable of elevating his play when it matters most. Believe it or not, Vazquez is set to enter his seventh season with the Red Sox, though he missed all of 2015 after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
Designated hitter: David Oritz (2003-2016)
David Ortiz probably is the best clutch hitter in the history of baseball, and he’s one of the betters hitters ever to wear a Red Sox uniform. Entering the 2010s with questions over whether his playing days were numbered, Ortiz went on to hit .292 with 224 homers and 700 RBIs over the next seven seasons. His heroics during the 2013 playoffs are legendary.