1987 Boston Red Sox
From BR Bullpen
 1987 Boston Red Sox / Franchise: Boston Red Sox / BR Team Page
Managed by John McNamara
 History, Comments, Contributions
After winning the American League in 1986 and being one strike from winning the 1986 World Series everything went wrong for the Red Sox in 1987. The veteran team of 1986 seemed to get old overnight. The problems started with the opening day lineup. Rich Gedman and Roger Clemens were both unavailable to start the season so the opening day battery was Bob Stanley and Marc Sullivan. Stanley was a reliever for most of his career and went 4-15 as a starter in '87. Sullivan was a career .186 hitter and arguably the worst hitter in baseball at the time. The Sox lost opening day and never were in contention the whole year.
The veterans who declined in 1987 were led by Bill Buckner who was so hobbled in 1986 that he could barely walk let alone play baseball. Buckner became a part-time player with limited ability to help offensively or defensively. Jim Rice, who was an MVP candidate in '86, began to lose his power and became just an ordinary hitter at the end of his career. Rich Gedman did return to the team but played in only 52 games all year, batting just .205 with 1 HR. Gedman mysteriously lost all ability to hit after '86 and became a common argument against the Walt Hriniak hitting style. Gedman in one offseason went from being an all-star catcher to being a completely helpless hitter known for bizarre one handed swings. Don Baylor had also become a part-time player, Tom Seaver who was effective in '86 retired and Tony Armas Sr. left as a free agent. Additionally there were disappointing seasons from Dave Henderson, Bruce Hurst and Oil Can Boyd.
There was a significant upside to the 1987 season. While the team seemed to age overnight they also were able to rebuild overnight bringing in a crop of rookies and young players. Ellis Burks and Mike Greenwell immediately became starters and rising stars. Greenwell was already one of the best hitters in the league while Burks had power, speed and defense. The team also was able to get contributions from rookies off the bench Todd Benzinger and John Marzano. Despite being out of contention in September the team was already building excitement for the next season with rookie DH Sam Horn. Horn was not only one of the bigger people ever (6'5" 250 lbs.) to play Major League Baseball but he hit 14 HRs in 150 at bats mostly coming in September.
The Red Sox were able to finish on an up note with Roger Clemens finishing strong winning his second straight Cy Young Award, going 20-9. The Red Sox had started the season as a veteran team with high expectations of a return to the World Series. After the 1987 season they were a very different team but with renewed expectations for 1988. The change was clear after the season when the Red Sox released their schedule and ticket promotions. Instead of selling the team with pictures of Jim Rice, Wade Boggs or Roger Clemens the cover of each schedule and poster pictured the 5 new hitters standing side by side: Ellis Burks, Mike Greenwell, Todd Benzinger, John Marzano and Sam Horn.