1987 Boston Red Sox

From BR Bullpen


1987 Boston Red Sox / Franchise: Boston Red Sox / BR Team Page[edit]

Record: 78-84, Finished 5th in AL Eastern Division (1987 AL)

Managed by John McNamara

Coaches: Bill Fischer, Walt Hriniak, Joe Morgan and Rac Slider

Ballpark: Fenway Park

History, Comments, Contributions[edit]

After winning the American League pennant in 1986 and being one strike from winning the 1986 World Series, everything went wrong for the 1987 Boston Red Sox. 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 1987. Sullivan was a career .186 hitter and arguably the worst hitter in baseball at the time, but collusion prevented the Sox from re-signing their starting catcher, Gedman, until the beginning of May. The Sox lost on 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 1986, began to lose his power and became just an ordinary hitter at the end of his career. Rich Gedman did return to the team in May, but played in only 52 games all year, batting just .205 with 1 HR. He mysteriously lost all ability to hit after 1986 and became a common argument against the Walt Hriniak hitting style as in one off-season he went from being an All-Star catcher to being a completely helpless hitter known for bizarre one-handed swings. DH Don Baylor had also become a part-time player and was traded before the end of the year, Tom Seaver who was effective in 1986 retired and Tony Armas 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, however. 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 in the outfield. 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 Red Sox were already building excitement for the next season with rookie DH Sam Horn. Horn was not only one of the biggest major league players ever at 6'5" and 250 lbs., 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 and 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 five new hitters standing side by side: Ellis Burks, Mike Greenwell, Todd Benzinger, John Marzano and Sam Horn.

Awards and Honors[edit]