Vote for Best Red Sox Closer

Who was the best closer for the Boston Red Sox (only consider time with the Red Sox)

  • Koji Uehara

  • Jonathan Papelbon

  • Keith Foulke

  • Dick Radatz

  • Dick Drago

  • Craig Kimbrel


Results are only viewable after voting.

Lose Remerswaal

Missing an “R”
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Nominations are closed after 1 week. Really enjoyed the discussion there, especially the Radatz stuff as he was before my time.

Now we find out who SoSH thinks was best. I understand it's like picking your favorite child (although that might be easier now after a month of SIP), but you gotta do it!

ONLY consider time spent with the Red Sox

Nominees are listed in the order they were nominated. Only 6 guys were nominated in bold face by themselves in a post. Posts with multiple nominations were ignored, sorry Wake.
 

Ale Xander

Lacks black ink
SoSH Member
Oct 31, 2013
27,889
Nominations are closed after 1 week. Really enjoyed the discussion there, especially the Radatz stuff as he was before my time.

Now we find out who SoSH thinks was best. I understand it's like picking your favorite child (although that might be easier now after a month of SIP), but you gotta do it!

ONLY consider time spent with the Red Sox

Nominees are listed in the order they were nominated. Only 6 guys were nominated in bold face by themselves in a post. Posts with multiple nominations were ignored, sorry Wake.
Wasn't Kimbrel disowned?
 

BaseballJones

goalpost mover
SoSH Member
Oct 1, 2015
8,598
I initially made the argument for Koji, but was swayed. Papelbon had a better overall career as a closer with the Sox. His peak was also insane, but he did it for longer. And he, like Koji, was absolute nails during a championship run, so that's a wash. Nobody gave me more confidence than Koji, and his numbers are phenomenal, but Papelbon is the correct overall choice here, IMO.
 

E5 Yaz

Transcends message boarding
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Apr 25, 2002
64,127
Oregon
But what swayed me was the Foulke gave up his career to change our lives.
Same vote, same reason

This isn't the type of poll where the stat line is the decisive factor. Closer is a guts and glory position.
 

E5 Yaz

Transcends message boarding
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Apr 25, 2002
64,127
Oregon
How many types of polls are there and where is the type delineated?

I’m going with numbers. Papelbon gets my vote.
If the poll was "which Red Sox closer has the best stats," then I agree.
 

RGREELEY33

Potty Mouth
SoSH Member
Nov 28, 2005
4,031
Orange County, CA
If the poll was "which Red Sox closer has the best stats," then I agree.
Gotcha. So, we should all interpret “best closer” in different ways and you are surmising that this poll’s version of “best closer” means that stats are not the decisive factor? I like that approach. For you.
 

BaseballJones

goalpost mover
SoSH Member
Oct 1, 2015
8,598
How many types of polls are there and where is the type delineated?

I’m going with numbers. Papelbon gets my vote.
It's not just numbers, IMO. He was incredible during the 2007 playoff run to win a championship. He was also incredible in the 2008 playoff run. In fact, he pitched in 18 playoff games. In the first 17, his line was: 26.0 ip, 10 h, 0 r, 0 er, 6 bb, 23 k, 0.00 era, 0.62 whip, 8.0 k/9

In his last appearance he gave up 3 runs. Oh well. Until then, he was virtually perfect in the postseason. Great regular season numbers. Long, successful Sox career. And nails in the postseason. And won a title. Guy was ridiculously good for Boston.
 

RGREELEY33

Potty Mouth
SoSH Member
Nov 28, 2005
4,031
Orange County, CA
It's not just numbers, IMO. He was incredible during the 2007 playoff run to win a championship. He was also incredible in the 2008 playoff run. In fact, he pitched in 18 playoff games. In the first 17, his line was: 26.0 ip, 10 h, 0 r, 0 er, 6 bb, 23 k, 0.00 era, 0.62 whip, 8.0 k/9

In his last appearance he gave up 3 runs. Oh well. Until then, he was virtually perfect in the postseason. Great regular season numbers. Long, successful Sox career. And nails in the postseason. And won a title. Guy was ridiculously good for Boston.
Yeah, but the closer roll is all guts and glory.
 

E5 Yaz

Transcends message boarding
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Apr 25, 2002
64,127
Oregon
Gotcha. So, we should all interpret “best closer” in different ways and you are surmising that this poll’s version of “best closer” means that stats are not the decisive factor? I like that approach. For you.
If the thread starter had stated that stats trump everything else, then there wouldn't be much of a reason for a poll, would there?
 

Zososoxfan

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 30, 2009
5,971
South of North
Going by the numbers it's Papelbon by a fair margin. Longest RS career of all of them and only Koji's close in terms of quality BB, K (and corresponding rate stats), WHIP, FIP, and ERA+ numbers, and of course Koji's are actually a touch better (which is totally insane). Paps also was a workhorse that never pitched less than 58 innings after his first season and was actually over 60 4/6 seasons. Koji had two seasons under 50 IP. Paps also had more trips to the postseason and was nails in 2008 even coming off the extended (gigglesnort) 2007 magic. That's a long time to be really fucking good at a hard job. On top of all that, Paps blows away Koji in saves although Koji had over 30 holds across 2/4 of his RS seasons.

It's also easy to remember Paps the shithead, but the guy was fucking awesome to root for when he wore the right laundry. Electric stuff that would blow hitters away. His goofy Irish jig in trainer shorts, goggles, and smoking a cigar is a hilarious visual:

30290

The facial reactions are priceless.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

Member
SoSH Member
Jan 23, 2009
12,067
Maine
Does the 2007 title run not count as guts and glory?

(I do think what Foulke did for the Sox was incredible, and have said so on many occasions here...)
I love Foulke for what he did in the 2004 playoffs. However, the bullpen he was a part of was a deeper crew and they were backing a deeper/better rotation. The 2007 playoff pitching staff was Beckett, Papelbon, Okajima, bailing wire, and duct tape. If you look at the World Series games, the only time anyone other than Pap and Oki were trusted to come into the game was if the Sox were up by 3 or more, which is how it came to be that they combined for 8 total innings in four games. At least Foulke had Timlin and Embree to share the close and late load.
 

Savin Hillbilly

loves the secret sauce
SoSH Member
Jul 10, 2007
18,779
The wrong side of the bridge....
Really close, tough choice between Papelbon, Koji and Radatz. But in the end I think it's hard to make a solid case that Papelbon wasn't the best of them. I get the sentiment for Foulke but he really just wasn't in the same class as those three.
 

RGREELEY33

Potty Mouth
SoSH Member
Nov 28, 2005
4,031
Orange County, CA
If the thread starter had stated that stats trump everything else, then there wouldn't be much of a reason for a poll, would there?
I think it is rather implicit that "best" is open to interpretation. Some of us use stats, some use guts and glory. Either way, the sun will rise, the sun will set, and I imagine you'll have lunch. :)
 

RIrooter09

Alvin
SoSH Member
Jul 31, 2008
5,033
I love Foulke for what he did in the 2004 playoffs. However, the bullpen he was a part of was a deeper crew and they were backing a deeper/better rotation. The 2007 playoff pitching staff was Beckett, Papelbon, Okajima, bailing wire, and duct tape. If you look at the World Series games, the only time anyone other than Pap and Oki were trusted to come into the game was if the Sox were up by 3 or more, which is how it came to be that they combined for 8 total innings in four games. At least Foulke had Timlin and Embree to share the close and late load.
Delcarmen stepped up late in 2007 to be a solid #3, but Okajima also ran out of gas. Papelbon was my choice due to his longevity.
 

E5 Yaz

Transcends message boarding
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Apr 25, 2002
64,127
Oregon
I think it is rather implicit that "best" is open to interpretation. Some of us use stats, some use guts and glory. Either way, the sun will rise, the sun will set, and I imagine you'll have lunch. :)
You must live a really boring life if this is the molehill on which you've decided to make your stand
 

billy ashley

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
971
Washington DC
Voted for the player I liked the least of the top tier candidates.

fWAR isn't perfect by any means, especially when addressing a closer, but Papelbon put up 13.8 fWAR over 6 seasons as a reliever. That's an average of 2.3 a year. Koji's epic season hit 3.1 (Papelbon hit that number twice). Foulke was merely really good in 04. Kimbrel's 17 was remarkable maybe even the best of the lot, but I have trouble overlooking 6 years of performance that ranged from very good to elite with pretty much no interruption.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

Member
SoSH Member
Jan 23, 2009
12,067
Maine
Delcarmen stepped up late in 2007 to be a solid #3, but Okajima also ran out of gas. Papelbon was my choice due to his longevity.
No question Delcarmen had a good year that year (and even Timlin was solid but not spectacular). But post-season wise, Francona didn't seem to trust anyone but Oki and Papelbon, and even the Oki trust was tentative. Game 2 of the WS is a perfect example. Schilling limps through 5.2 in his final appearance ever, Okajima relieves him, then Papelbon comes on in the 8th to close out a 2-1 win.

Pap was nails that post-season. That is a much tougher road to the title if he's not there.
 

DJnVa

Dorito Dawg
SoSH Member
Dec 16, 2010
40,440
Gotcha. So, we should all interpret “best closer” in different ways and you are surmising that this poll’s version of “best closer” means that stats are not the decisive factor? I like that approach. For you.
If we all interpreted it the exact same way this would be a very boring thread.
 

ToeKneeArmAss

Paul Byrd's pitching coach
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
My heart made me vote for Foulke. It's probably not a defensible choice. Pap has the stats. And I do adore Koji. But here's why I went with Keith (please forgive the not-so-humble-brag - hopefully you'll find this story entertaining).

I first met him at Red Sox Fantasy Camp several years back. He's very down-to-earth and approachable. At camp each year we'd have a cigar night after one of our group banquet dinners. I don't care for cigars, so I decided I'd sit away from the smokers and drink some scotch I had brought along. On my way out of the banquet I passed Foulke and asked if he was doing the cigar thing, and he said he wasn't. I asked if he liked scotch and he perked up. So I asked him if he'd like to join me.

It was a fanboy's wet dream come true. There I was, asking him all kinds of questions about his time with the Red Sox. After a while (and several generous pours) for whatever reason I mention Francona's name. He immediately snorted "Fuck that guy!", which surprised the hell out of me. At first I thought he was joking but when I looked at his face I could tell he wasn't. I asked him why, and he said "ALCS Game 7!" I'm still not tracking. He looks at me and says "That shouldn't have been Alan Embree on the mound at the end! That should have been me!"

I'm astounded, and pretty loose by this point, so I couldn't help myself. I said something like "What the fuck are you talking about? You've just thrown 100 high-leverage pitches in three games! We're about to go the the World Series! We need you! It would have been gross malpractice to put you out there!" Now he's standing and getting louder. "That was my ball! I earned it! Chances like that don't come around very often in your career! He owed me that!" People are starting to gather, concerned that we may go at each other. But I'm not worried (even if maybe I should have been). I say back, "You don't want to be Alan Fucking Embree on the mound at the end of the ALCS! You want to be Keith Fucking Foulke on the mound at the end of the World Series!"

And he leans toward me, kinda wild-eyed, and this guttural almost-growl comes out of him ... "But I WAAAANTED IT!" And at that instant I suddenly understood what he was trying to say. I said "Peace" and that was that.

And I guess that's the attitude you want your closer to have. Give me the ball. I will get it done or die trying. Fuck tomorrow. Just give me the fucking ball.
 
Last edited:

wyatt55

Member
SoSH Member
Nov 26, 2005
1,311
Miskatonic University
GREAT story! But I'm still surprised you voted for Foulke. i know how much you love Koji.

An excellent thread a long time ago after 2013 compared Foulke, Paps and Koji's Championship years. Really cool statistical and emotional comparisons.

My heart says Foulke and my blood pressure says Koji, but the head says Paps. He was a knucklehead but he was our knucklehead. And an assassin for a long time.
 

teddywingman

Looks like Zach Galifianakis
SoSH Member
Jul 31, 2009
8,478
a basement on the hill
That's a wild story about Foulke. I guess I can see where he's coming from, but it's not rational. Wonder how much of it was just the scotch talking, or if he still thinks, "Fuck that guy," about Tito.
 

Tokyo Sox

Baka Gaijin
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Feb 16, 2006
4,469
There
And I guess that's the attitude you want your closer to have. Give me the ball. I will get it done or die trying. Fuck tomorrow. Just give me the fucking ball.
Very cool experience for you & great story -- my takeaway is it's really hard to be a manager!
 

Minneapolis Millers

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
2,135
Twin Cities
Fantastic Foulke story. Thanks. Really, that’s how we want ALL of our guys to be.

I can’t pick one guy. The best Sox career was Pap. The gutsiest, most historical playoffs performance was Foulke. The most fun, improbable, they-can‘t-hit-our-guy was Koji.
 

Minneapolis Millers

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
2,135
Twin Cities
I disagree.
Would you have wanted Pedro to be like that in 2003?
Yes, absolutely. I think he was. And I wanted Clemens to be like that in 86 (we’ll never really know). It’s up to the manager to manage. I want players to want to play. I don’t expect them to be dispassionately rationale in the moment.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

Member
SoSH Member
Jan 23, 2009
12,067
Maine
Yes, absolutely. I think he was. And I wanted Clemens to be like that in 86 (we’ll never really know). It’s up to the manager to manage. I want players to want to play. I don’t expect them to be dispassionately rationale in the moment.
Yeah, it's what made 2003 so terrible. Little sent Pedro back out there for the 8th even though everyone including Pedro knew he was done. But Pedro wasn't going to choose to give up the ball. If the manager sent him out there, he was going to stay out there until the manager came and got him. He was fully expecting to be done after the seventh, but he wasn't about to volunteer to hit the showers.

Barring an injury or illness, I'd be wary of any athlete who asked to be taken out of a game. Especially in a sport like baseball where when you leave the game, you're done for the night.
 

effectivelywild

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 14, 2005
280
The strange thing about that is that I remember the knock on Foulke post 2004 was people saying that he didn't care that much about baseball, that he preferred hockey but pitched because it was a job. Shows how much we knew.
 

BaseballJones

goalpost mover
SoSH Member
Oct 1, 2015
8,598
If I had to pick one Sox pitcher to start a life or death game, it’s Pedro. If I had to pick a different pitcher to close it out, it’s Koji. If I had to pick one guy up in the biggest spot in the game, it’s Papi. If I had to pick one infielder to field a ground ball with the game on the line, it’s Pedroia. If I had to pick one outfielder to make a play on a fly ball with the game on the line, it’s Jackie. Though Lynn would be a nice second option. And Betts. And Crisp. And Dewey. Lots of good choices there.
 

amRadio

lurker
Feb 7, 2019
314
If I had to pick a different pitcher to close it out, it’s Koji.
That's how I decided to evaluate it. If I had all the potential Red Sox closers in history at my disposal and I needed to pick one to close out a game 7, I would go with Koji. So I voted Koji, but only by a hair over Papelbon. Koji just had much better command. Both were incredible in the playoffs and 2013 Koji or 2006 Papelbon is a coin flip for the most dominant relief season I've seen in my life time. If I had to put one guy in to close out a hypothetical game-7-to-end-all-game-7's, I'm giving the ball to Koji Uehara.
 

Bob Montgomerys Helmet Hat

has big, douchey shoulders
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
The strange thing about that is that I remember the knock on Foulke post 2004 was people saying that he didn't care that much about baseball, that he preferred hockey but pitched because it was a job. Shows how much we knew.
But I think that was actually true. What he said was that he wasn't a baseball fan and never watched it when he wasn't playing. It was his job and he was really good at it. And he was incredibly passionate about his job.
 

Hatcher Steals Home

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
153
Almost hard to be wrong on this one, if Foulke did what he did in 2013 and Koji did what he did in 2004, I think I'd view everything differently. Thus, I voted for Papelbon along the same lines as others. Sustained RS run, WS run, and totality as a Red Sox player.