5 Greatest Pitchers in Boston Red Sox History

By michael obermuller
Roger Clemens is amongst the Red Sox greatest pitchers of all-time.
Roger Clemens is amongst the Red Sox greatest pitchers of all-time. / Rick Stewart/Getty Images

The Boston Red Sox infamous franchise spans back to 1901, and was already a champion by 1903. From that point to 2020, there have been many great players that have worn the Red Sox jersey, but we'll be discussing the five greatest pitchers to ever play for the Bo Sox.

This is a long list, so some honorable mentions didn't quite make the cut. Jonathan Papelbon was the top reliever in Red Sox history, with the most saves and third most appearances. Starters like Mel Parnell, Dutch Leonard, Luis Tiant, Tim Wakefield, Jon Lester, Lefty Grove and many more were up for consideration. The current ace is Chris Sale, but he still has a long way to go in Boston pedigree. Here are the top five.

5. Babe Ruth (1914-19)

The most iconic player to ever take the field, Babe Ruth is remembered more for the curse he left behind in Boston. The all-worldly pitcher-hitter started his career with the Red Sox, and was tremendous. He started as the anchor of the pitching staff, and slowly transitioned to more of a hitter as his Boston years went along. Over the six seasons with the club, Ruth helped the Sox win three championships finishing 5th in all-time Red Sox earned run average and win-loss percentage, and 4th in hits allowed per nine innings. Ruth cannot be too high on this list of course, because after the Sox sold him to the New York Yankees, the long-lasting Curse of the Bambino plagued the Boston franchise for 86 years.

4. "Smoky Joe" Wood (1908-15)

A teammate of Babe Ruth for a couple seasons, Joe Wood also helped the Red Sox win multiple championships (two) as an ace on the mound. He is the Boston franchise's all-time leader in earned run average, which some might say is the most important statistic for a pitcher. He also finished 4th in both WHIP and win-loss percentage, but is lower down in WAR. Smoky Joe is a member of the Red Sox Hall of Fame, he led the MLB in wins in 1912 and the AL in ERA in '15, he also threw a no-hitter in 1911.

3. Pedro Martinez (1998-2004)

Many people would put Pedro Martinez first on this list, but that might be some recency bias. Pedro pitched during a different time, true, but his numbers are also worse than the top two on this list. He did have the greatest Red Sox win-loss percentage by a good margin and the 2nd best strikeout rate per nine innings, but the flame-thrower was 10th in ERA and 3rd in WAR. As a member of the Red Sox Hall of Fame (with number retired), Pedro won one World Series, two Cy Young's, a pitching Triple Crown, and a few MLB league-leading seasons in ERA and wins.

2. Cy Young (1901-08)

The man the myth the legend, Cy Young was an actual pitcher, not just a random name of an award given to the year's top hurler. Not only that, the starter made the Red Sox Hall of Fame and is tied for the all-time lead in wins for the club. He is also 2nd in all-time Red Sox ERA just one point behind Smoky Joe at a 2.00 even. He is currently tied with Sale for WHIP leader and 2nd in WAR. Young helped the Red Sox win their first championship, and he also took home a pitcher's Triple Crown in his first season with the team. He pitched a perfect game with the Sox and three no-hitters, with a number of league-leading seasons in ERA, wins and strikeouts.

1. Roger Clemens (1984-96)

These are all Hall of Fame pitchers (even if some have been snubbed for other reasons), but part of why Roger Clemens is first on this list is that he was with the Red Sox the longest. Although he did not help the franchise win a title, he was an AL MVP and three-time Cy Young winner with the Sox. The dominant starter is the club's all-time strikeout leader, all-time WAR leader with a staggering 80.7, and he is tied for most wins and shutouts with Young in franchise history. If you are going by the numbers, no Red Sox pitcher personally did more for this team when he wore the uniform, and Clemens is now a member of the Red Sox Hall of Fame.

Get $20 FREE when you sign up for FanDuel Racing, plus we’ll match your first deposit in site credit up to $50!

Michael Obermuller is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Michael Obermuller also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username king_mizzard. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.