Before the 2011 season, the Boston Herald declared the 2011 Red Sox as the best team ever. That was just a little premature. That team finished third in the five-team American League East, going 90-72. And they weren't even seriously considered for this list of the best Red Sox teams ever.
Because there were 86 years between championships in Boston, you'd think there wouldn't be too many great teams to put on this list, but the reason Red Sox fans felt cursed was because they had some great teams that just couldn't get over the hump. The Red Sox -- a charter member of the American League -- have made the playoffs 21 times in their history and have seven World Series titles as of September 2012. A look at the 10 greatest teams in Red sox history:
Before there were curses and even before Babe Ruth, Boston had one of the great teams of all-time. This team outscored its opponents by an average of 1.7 runs per game, was 57-20 at home and had a team ERA of 2.76. Led by 34-game winner Smokey Joe Wood and Hall of Fame center fielder Tris Speaker, the Red Sox defeated a very good New York Giants team led by Christy Mathewson in the World Series. They also opened Fenway Park this season.
Manager: Jake Stahl
Regular season: 105-47, won American League by 14 games over Washington Senators.
Playoffs: Beat New York Giants in World Series in seven games (4-3)
Hitting leaders: OF Tris Speaker (.383, 10 HR, 90 RBI), OF Duffy Lewis (.284, 6 HR, 109 RBI), 1B Jake Stahl (.301, 3 HR, 60 RBI)
Pitching: RHP Smokey Joe Wood (34-5, 1.91 ERA), RHP Buck O'Brien (20-13, 2.58 ERA), RHP Hugh Bedient (20-9, 2.92 ERA)
Ted Williams is an immortal, but he never won a World Series. He came a game away after coming home from World War II in 1946, when he was named AL MVP. They dominated in the regular season, but lost the final two games, including Game 7 on Enos Slaughter's mad dash, scoring from first base on a single in the eighth inning.
Manager: Joe Cronin
Regular season: 104-50, won American League by 12 games over the Detroit Tigers.
Playoffs: Lost to St. Louis Cardinals in World Series in seven games (4-3)
Hitting leaders: LF Ted Williams (.342, 38 HR, 123 RBI), 2B Bobby Doerr (.271 18 HR, 116 RBI), SS Johnny Pesky (.335, 2 HR, 55 RBI)
Pitching: RHP Dave Ferriss (25-6, 3.25 ERA), RHP Tex Hughson (20-11, 2.75 ERA), LHP Mickey Harris (17-9, 3.64 ERA)
There have been better teams, but none are more revered in team history. The Red Sox didn't win the AL East and looked doomed, falling behind 3-0 in the ALCS to the New York Yankees after losing 19-8 in Game 3. But in the biggest comeback in postseason history, they won Game 4, then Game 5 in 14 innings, then two more in New York. Boston then swept St. Louis in the World Series for its first championship in 86 years. Curt Schilling won 21 games and pitched on a bleeding ankle that needed surgery following the season.
Manager: Terry Francona
Regular season: 98-64, second in AL East, 3 games behind New York Yankees, won AL wild card.
Playoffs: Swept Anaheim Angels in ALDS (3-0); beat New York Yankees in ALCS in seven games (4-3, first to rally from 3-0 deficit), swept St. Louis Cardinals in World Series (4-0).
The Red Sox were a mess in 2012, finishing in last place with 93 losses and a team that was talented, but dysfunctional. Under first-year manager John Farrell, they turned it around immediately and became the second team to ever win a World Series after finishing in last place, and the first to clinch a World Series at home since 1918.
Manager: John Farrell
Regular season: 97-65, won AL East by 5.5 games over the Tampa Bay Rays
Playoffs: Beat Tampa Bay Rays in ALDS in four games (3-1); beat Detroit Tigers in ALCS in six games (4-2); beat St. Louis Cardinals in World Series in six games (4-2)
Hitting leaders: DH David Ortiz (.309, 30 HR, 103 RBI), 1B Mike Napoli (.259, 23 HR, 92 RBI), 2B Dustin Pedroia (.301, 9 HR, 84 RBI)
Pitching: LHP Jon Lester (15-8, 3.75 ERA), RHP Clay Buchholz (12-1, 1.74 ERA), RHP Koji Uehara (4-1, 1.09 ERA, 21 saves)
This team wasn't all that powerful -- the Red Sox hit just 14 home runs, with four of them by young pitcher Babe Ruth in 92 at-bats. But with a very good pitching staff, they won 101 games and beat the Philadelphia Philles for the championship, the team's third in 14 seasons. They went on to repeat as champions in 1916, even with 13 more losses.
Manager: Bill Carrigan
Regular season: 101-50, won American League by 2.5 games over Detroit Tigers
Playoffs: Beat Philadelphia Phillies in World Series in five games (4-1)
Hitting leaders: OF Tris Speaker (.322, 0 HR, 69 RBI), OF Duffy Lewis (.291, 2 HR, 76 RBI), 1B Dick Hoblitzell (.283, 2 HR, 61 RBI)
Pitching: RHP Rube Foster (19-8, 2.11 ERA), RHP Ernie Shore (19-8, 1.64 ERA), LHP Babe Ruth (18-8, 2.44 ERA)
Boston won the first modern World Series, beating the Pittsburgh Pirates in a best-of-nine series. after winning 91 games in the regular season. Boston had a team ERA of 2.57 (led by Cy Young) and also led the league in hitting.
Manager: Jimmy Collins
Regular season: 91-47, won American League by 14.5 games over Philadelphia Athletics.
Playoffs: Beat Pittsburgh Pirates in World Series in eight games (5-3)
Hitting leaders: OF Buck Freeman (.287, 14 HR, 104 RBI), OF Patsy Dougherty (.331, 4 HR, 59 RBI), SS Freddy Parent (.304, 4 HR, 80 RBI)
Pitching: RHP Cy Young (28-9, 2.08 ERA), RHP Bill Dinneen (21-13, 2.26 ERA), RHP Tom Hughes (20-7, 2.57 ERA)
Three years after the 2004 breakthrough, the Red Sox won another World Series championship by outscoring their opposition 59-15 in their final seven games. They fell behind Cleveland 3-1 in the ALCS but rallied, then swept the Colorado Rockies, who were playing in their first World Series.
Manager: Terry Francona
Regular season: 96-66, won AL East by two games over New York Yankees.
Playoffs: Swept Los Angeles Angels in ALDS (3-0); beat Cleveland Indians in ALCS in seven games (4-3); swept Colorado Rockies in World Series (4-0).
Hitting leaders: DH David Ortiz (.332, 35 HR, 117 RBI), LF Manny Ramirez (.296, 20 HR, 88 RBI), 3B Mike Lowell (.324, 21 HR, 120 RBI)
Babe Ruth, now the team's best hitter and No. 4 starter, led the way as Boston won its sixth championship -- and its last for 86 years. In a season cut short by World War I, the Red Sox beat the Cubs in the World Series.
Manager: Ed Barrow
Regular season: 75-51, won American League by 2.5 games over the Cleveland Indians.
Playoffs: Beat Chicago Cubs in World Series in six games (4-2).
Hitting leaders: OF-P Babe Ruth (.300, 11 HR, 66 RBI, 13-7, 2.22 ERA), OF Harry Hooper (.289, 1 HR, 44 RBI), 1B Stuffy McInnis (.272, 0 HR, 56 RBI)
Pitching: RHP Carl Mays (21-13, 2.21 ERA), RHP Bullet Joe Bush (15-15, 2.11 ERA), RHP Sad Sam Jones (16-5, 2.25 ERA)
Fred Lynn was AL MVP and Rookie of the Year and Carlton Fisk hit one of the most memorable World Series home runs to end Game 6, but the Red Sox again came up a game short in the World Series, this time to the Big Red Machine.
Manager: Darrell Johnson
Regular season: 95-65, won American League East by 4.5 games over the Baltimore Orioles
Playoffs: Swept Oakland Athletics in ALCS (3-0); lost to Cincinnati Reds in World Series in seven games (4-3)
Hitting leaders: CF Fred Lynn (.331, 21 HR, 105 RBI), C Carlton Fisk (.331, 10 HR, 52 RBI), LF Jim Rice (.309, 22 HR, 102 RBI)
Pitching: LHP Bill Lee (17-9, 3.95 ERA), RHP Luis Tiant (18-14, 4.02 ERA), RHP Rick Wise (19-12, 3.95 ERA)
Yet another team that came up a game short, and this one probably hurt most of all. The Red Sox ralled from a 3-1 deficit against the California Angels in the ALCS and were an out away from a championship in Game 6 when the Mets went on an inexplicable rally, punctuated by Bill Buckner's booted ground ball on a grounder by Mookie Wilson. The Mets finished off the disheartened Red Sox a day later.
Manager: John McNamara
Regular season: 95-66, won AL East by 5.5 games over the New York Yankees.
Playoffs: Beat the California Angels in seven games in ALCS (4-3); lost to New York Mets in World Series in seven games (4-3).
Pitching: RHP Roger Clemens (24-4, 2.48 ERA), Dennis "Oil Can" Boyd (16-10, 3.78 ERA), LHP Bruce Hurst (13-8, 2.99 ERA)
Honorable mention: 1978 (99-64, second in AL East); 1916 (91-63, won World Series); 1967 (92-70, lost in World Series); 2003 (95-67, lost in ALCS); 1999 (94-68, lost in ALCS)