Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Golden Mean Team; The All-Time Average Red Sox

For Aristotle, virtue lay between two extremes. Take social conduct for example. One extreme is being a kiss-ass, the other extreme is being an asshole. In between lies friendliness.

This is the doctrine of the Golden Mean, the Middle Path, the Warm Porridge.

Towards celebrating Aristotle's idea, and because this year's All-Star break is excessively long, I've compiled the Golden Mean Team: the Most Average Red Sox Team of All Time (well, just going back to 1986, actually.)

These are not your All-Time Great Sox, with Williams in left, Boggs at third and Fisk behind the dish. And these are not the comically poor Sox, with whoever the hell they had in the 1920's, way before this.

No, this is the The Golden Mean Team, the most middling, mediocre, lump of average Red Sox players imaginable by someone with 50th percentile creativity.

So, a bit about method.

OPS+ is OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) adjusted for ballpark and league, with 100 defined as league average. ERA+ is basically the same for ERA, again with 100 defined as league average.

I figured the most average Red Sox team would be composed of players whose seasons were as close to 100 in OPS+ or ERA+ as possible.

I've named a starter for each position, a 5 man starting rotation, and a closer.

In the case of ties- to be expected when dealing with such mediocrity- I went with the player whose career OPS+ or ERA+ was closest to 100.

So now, without making a federal case about it, here are the few, the moderately happy few, whose run of the mill contributions make up the Golden Mean Team, the All-Time (well, since 1986) Average, the Mediocre, the you-win-some-you-lose-some Boston Red Sox.

Position/Name/Year/Season OPS+ or ERA+/ (Career OPS+ or ERA+)

  • C Scott Hatteberg, 1997: 103 (101)
  • 1B Carlos Quintana, 1990: 103 (93)
  • 2B Marty Barrett, 1986: 100 (86)
  • SS John Valentin, 1996: 104 (109)
  • 3B Scott Cooper, 1992: 100 (90)

  • LF Troy Oleary, 1998: 99 (97)
  • CF Carl Everett, 2001: 97 (107)
  • RF Darren Bragg, 1999: 99 (85)
  • DH Dante Bichette, 2001: 103 (106)

The cleanup hitter could hit 9th on this team. And vice versa.

Starting Rotation

  1. John Burkett, 2002: 101 (99)
  2. Hideo Nomo, 2001: 101 (97)
  3. Bruce Hurst, 1987: 103 (104)
  4. Tim Wakefield, 2004: 100 (108)
  5. Mike Boddicker, 1989: 103 (108)


  1. Bob Stanely, 1986: 96 (118)

Somewhat honorable but fairly indifferent mention goes to the entire 2005 Red Sox starting rotation. Without doing any more research, I'm guessing this is the most mediocre starting rotation of all time.

Wakefield at 109, Bronson Arroyo: 100 (106), Matt Clement: 99 (96), David Wells: 102 (108), and Wade Milller: 92 (110)

So there you have it, the Boston Salieris. These guys get awards for attendance. A living room full of participation trophies. They have 2.4 kids. They put the meh in mediocre. Between the ages of 40 and 70 they may experience erectile dysfunction.

I'll stop there. That joke's OPS+ is 100. If that.

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