All-Time Boston Red Sox vs. All-Time New York Yankees: The Hitters

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For this comparison exercise I used the best single years of both the Red Sox players on my All-Time roster and those of the Yankees All-Time roster I created with the help of our friends at Pinstripe Alley. I didn’t always select just the highest WAR season, and often awards like Cy Young or MVP factored into the selection if the years were close statistically. We are looking at who would win a single series here, not what they did over their entire careers, so these individual years are weighted more than total career performance for this exercise. I have provided tables with most of the relevant information that went into my decision making. As has been the case with this whole exercise, these are my opinions based off of data. This is not scientific or crowd sourced.

Red Sox Hitters

Position Player Name Bats Year FanGraphs WAR/wRC+ Slash Line Career WAR (w/TM)
Position Player Name Bats Year FanGraphs WAR/wRC+ Slash Line Career WAR (w/TM)
Catcher Carlton Fisk R 1977 7.6 WAR, 143 wRC+ .315/.402/.521, 26 HR, 102 RBI 38.3
First Base Jimmie Foxx R 1938 8.3 WAR, 173 wRC+ .349/.462/.704, 50 HR, 175 RBI 37.6
Second Base Dustin Pedroia R 2008 6.4 WAR, 127 wRC+ .326/.376/.493, 17 HR, 83 RBI 46.6
Third Base Wade Boggs L 1985 8.8 WAR, 156 wRC+ .368/.450/.478, 8 HR, 78 RBI 70.8
Shortstop Nomar Garciaparra R 2000 7.6 WAR, 154 wRC+ .372/.434/.599, 21 HR, 96 RBI 38.9
Left Field Ted Williams L 1941 11.0 WAR, 221 wRC+ .406/.553/.735, 37 HR, 120 RBI 130.4
Center Field Fred Lynn L 1975 7.1 WAR, 161 wRC+ .331/.401/.566, 21 HR, 105 RBI 30.7
Right Field Mookie Betts R 2018 10.4 WAR, 185 wRC+ .346/.438/.640, 32 HR, 80 RBI 37.2
Designated Hitter David Ortiz L 2007 6.3 WAR, 175 wRC+ .332/.445/.621, 35 HR, 117 RBI 48.8
Bench Manny Ramirez R 2004 3.3 WAR, 153 wRC+ .308/.397/.613, 43 HR, 130 RBI 29.6
Bench Carl Yastrzemski L 1967 11.1 WAR, 194 wRC+ .326/.418/.622, 44 HR, 121 RBI 94.8
Bench Tris Speaker L 1912 10.6 WAR, 190 wRC+ .383/.464/.567, 10 HR, 90 RBI 54.4
Bench Jason Varitek S 2004 4.1 WAR, 125 wRC+ .296/.390/.482, 18 HR, 73 RBI 21.6
Bench Bobby Doerr R 1942 6.0 WAR, 127 wRC+ .290/.369/.455, 15 HR, 102 RBI 53.3
108.6 WAR 733

Yankee Hitters

Position Player Name Bats Year FanGraphs WAR/wRC+/ERA- Slash Line Career WAR (w/TM)
Position Player Name Bats Year FanGraphs WAR/wRC+/ERA- Slash Line Career WAR (w/TM)
Catcher Yogi Berra L 1956 6.4 WAR, 139 wRC+ .298/.378/.534, 30 HR, 105 RBI 63.8
First Base Lou Gehrig L 1931 9.2 WAR, 184 wRC+ .341/.446/.662, 46 HR, 184 RBI 116.3
Second Base Robinson Cano L 2012 7.3 WAR, 139 wRC+ .313/.379/.550, 33 HR, 94 RBI 35.8
Third Base Alex Rodriguez R 2007 9.6 WAR, 175 wRC+ .314/.422/.645, 54 HR, 156 RBI 51.7
Shortstop Derek Jeter R 1999 7.4 WAR, 156 wRC+ .349/.438/.552, 24 HR, 102 RBI 73.0
Left Field Babe Ruth L 1923 15.0 WAR, 231 wRC+ .393/.545/.764, 41 HR, 131 RBI 149.9
Center Field Joe DiMaggio R 1937 9.1 WAR, 165 wRC+ .346/.412/.673, 46 HR, 167 RBI 83.1
Right Field Roger Maris L 1961 7.1 WAR, 162 wRC+ .269/.372/.620, 61 HR, 142 RBI 26.4
Designated Hitter Mickey Mantle S 1956 11.5 WAR, 202 wRC+ .353/.464/.705, 52 HR, 130 RBI 112.3
Bench Bill Dickey L 1937 6.7 WAR, 147 wRC+ .332/.417/.570, 29 HR, 133 RBI 56.1
Bench Bernie Williams S 1999 4.9 WAR, 149 wRC+ .342/.435/.536, 25 HR, 115 RBI 43.9
Bench Reggie Jackson L 1980 5.0 WAR, 169 wRC+ .300/.398/.597, 41 HR, 111 RBI 18.2
Bench Don Mattingly L 1985 6.1 WAR, 151 wRC+ .324/.371/.567, 35 HR, 145 RBI 40.7
Bench Graig Nettles L 1977 5.4 WAR, 125 wRC+ .255/.333/.496, 37 HR, 107 RBI 43.6
110.7 WAR 914.8

Catcher: 1977 Carlton Fisk vs 1956 Yogi Berra

As much as we all love Fisk, this head-to-head matchup has to go to Berra. There are many reasons, but what stands out most is the consistency of Berra’s production. Over the course of his long career with the Yankees, the catcher’s complete slash line was .285/.348/.482. It was often remarked that he was the most valuable Yankee on teams that included Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford. Now, Fisk’s numbers absolutely stack up to Berra’s in this single year, but they aren’t so much better that it gives him the advantage over the three-time MVP.

Edge: Yogi Berra (NYY)

First Base: 1938 Jimmie Foxx vs 1931 Lou Gehrig

Wow this is close! Remember, in Foxx’s 1938 season he set the Red Sox record for both home runs and RBI in a single season. The former wasn’t broken until David Ortiz did so in 2006 and the latter still stands. Gehrig was also spectacular in 1931, but unlike Foxx, he reached these levels pretty much yearly. Foxx has the edge in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging, and home runs, but Gehrig has the edge in RBI, WAR, and wRC+. Gehrig came in second in the MVP voting while Foxx won the award. Had there been a Cy Young award at the time, Gehrig would’ve won the MVP because Lefty Grove beat him out for the award. Gehrig had the better career, but I slightly prefer Foxx’s year. The numbers, however, still support Gehrig.

Slight Edge: Lou Gehrig (NYY)

Second Base: 2008 Dustin Pedroia vs 2012 Robinson Canó

Pedroia against Canó for best second baseman in the American League wasn’t quite as hot as the Nomar vs Jeter debates, but it was intense nonetheless. Pedroia’s MVP season against Canó’s best hitting season. What a battle. This one comes down to what you value. Pedroia brings elite defense, great on-base skills, and fantastic base running acumen. Canó brings silky smooth left-handed power, a very solid glove, and virtually no holes in his swing. Pedroia has an MVP, while Canó does not, but Canó has a higher share of MVP votes over his career. These are nearly impossible to decide, and if I were building a team I slightly prefer the elite defense and grit that Pedroia brings to the table. That said, I think we need to give the nod to Canó.

Slight Edge: Robinson Cano (NYY)

Shortstop: 2000 Nomar Garciaparra vs 1999 Derek Jeter

Ok here it is. Nomah vs Jetah. The fact that these two were at their elite peaks at the same time is what makes this argument so fun. Jeter’s 1999 was so much better than I remember it. I didn’t think he was capable of putting up a .552 slugging percentage, but he did. However, as Chad Finn will tell you, Nomar was better. Seriously, he was the superior hitter and the superior fielder during this time period. For career, yes. Give me Jeter. But as I showed in my piece on Nomar, he was not only the better of these two players but one of the best players in all of baseball before his injury.

Edge: Nomar Garciaparra (BOS)

Third Base: 1985 Wade Boggs vs 2007 Alex Rodriguez

This, to me, is our first blowout. Boggs was a special player, and his on-base skills are as legendary as his in flight drinking abilities. However, Rodriguez blows him out of the water. A-Rod’s 2007 season is one of the greatest hitting seasons by a third baseman ever. Was he juiced up? Maybe. But he still did it. Boggs was unique, but his role on my All-Time team is that of a table setter. Rodriguez did it all while also getting on base at an incredibly high rate. This is not close.

Huge Edge: Alex Rodriguez (NYY)

Left Field: 1941 Ted Williams vs 1923 Babe Ruth

When I was originally putting the Yankees version of this team together, I had Ruth in right field, where he played slightly more games for the Yankees. However, after talking to our friends at Pinstripe Alley they urged me to move Ruth to left, put Roger Maris in right field and add Don Mattingly to the bench. This set up an epic showdown between Williams, the greatest hitter to ever live, and Ruth, who is on the Mount Rushmore of MLB players. In their best seasons Williams has the edge in batting average and on-base percentage while Ruth had the edge in slugging percentage, home runs, and RBI. Ruth had ten seasons with a wRC+ exceeding 200, Williams had only seven such full seasons. However, he lost nearly five full seasons in his prime to World War II and the Korean War. Williams put up 200 plus wRC+ seasons before the wars and when he returned. Williams also had one of his best hitting seasons at 37 years old a full ten years after the league was fully integrated. Both are amazing, but I’m sticking with my guns here that Williams was the superior hitter.

Slight Edge: Ted Williams (BOS)

Center Field: 1975 Fred Lynn vs 1937 Joe DiMaggio

This is our second major blowout, and it’s funny because Lynn won the MVP and Rookie of the Year awards while DiMaggio went home empty handed. DiMaggio’s 1937 season was by far his best statistically and he was robbed in the MVP voting where he lost to Charlie Gehringer, a light-hitting second baseman for the Tigers. Lynn beat DiMaggio in doubles, but lagged behind in everything else and by all accounts the 22-year-old Yankee Clipper was about as good a defender in center field as there has ever been. Lynn was amazing in 1975, but DiMaggio had one of the best seasons for a center fielder in the history of the game.

Huge Edge: Joe DiMaggio (NYY)

Right Field: 2018 Mookie Betts vs 1961 Roger Maris

Maris’s legendary 61-home run season against one of the greatest Red Sox seasons ever from the recently traded Betts. Betts is far and away the better player in every measurable category outside of home runs and RBI. According to FanGraphs WAR, Betts was worth 3.3 wins more than Maris while Baseball-Reference has the gap even wider at 3.7 WAR. I think this is best summarized as Maris was the better home run hitter of the two while Betts was far and away the better baseball player. This one is not close.

Huge Edge: Mookie Betts (BOS)

Designated Hitter: 2007 David Ortiz vs 1956 Mickey Mantle

Ortiz draws an incredibly difficult assignment here by facing off against Mickey Mantle. Mantle played the vast majority of his career in center field, moving to first base by the very end. It’s likely had the DH existed that with Mantle’s physical limitations he would have settled in there at the end. As fantastic as Ortiz’s best seasons were, they can’t match those of Mantle, even if we just look at offense. Mantle was superior to Ortiz in every single way as a hitter and whether we look at it as 2007 Ortiz against 1956 Mantle or whole career against whole career, it’s Ortiz that comes up on the short end. That being said, give me Ortiz with the game on the line.

Huge Edge: Mickey Mantle (NYY)

Bench:

These two units are extremely talented, but the fact that Carl Yastrzemski and Tris Speaker are on the Red Sox bench make this an easy choice. Whether you look at best-season WAR or career-with-team WAR it’s the Red Sox unit that comes out on top. The Red Sox unit’s best seasons amount to 35.1 WAR on the bench and 253.7 over their careers with the team. The Yankees unit is worth 28.1 WAR in their best seasons with a value of 202.5 over their careers with the team. This is a big advantage for the Red Sox.

Huge Edge: BOS

Total Tally: NYY 6, BOS 4


Introduction and Honorable Mentions Part One

Honorable Mentions Part Two

Bench: Bobby Doerr

Bench: Jason Varitek

Bench: Manny Ramirez

Bench: Tris Speaker

Bench: Carl Yastrzemski

Starting Catcher: Carlton Fisk

Starting First Baseman: Jimmie Foxx

Starting Second Baseman: Dustin Pedroia

Starting Third Baseman: Wade Boggs

Starting Shortstop: Nomar Garciaparra

Starting Left Fielder: Ted Williams

Starting Center Fielder: Fred Lynn

Starting Right Field: Mookie Betts

Starting Designated Hitter: David Ortiz

Reliever: Dick Radatz

Reliever: Curt Schilling

Reliever: Chris Sale

Reliever: Smoky Joe Wood

Reliever: Craig Kimbrel

Reliever: Jonathan Papelbon

Reliever: Koji Uehara

Starter: Luis Tiant

Starter: Lefty Grove

Starter: Cy Young

Starter: Roger Clemens

Starter: Pedro Martínez

Constructing the Lineup



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