Did You Know? – Red Sox 20-Game Winners

In team history, the Red Sox have seen 26 different pitchers win at least 20 games in a season at least once in a Boston uniform. The pitcher who holds the franchise record for the most victories in one season is Smoky Joe Wood, who won 34 games in 1912 for the eventual World Series champions; he was one of three pitchers on the 1912 staff, along with Buck O’Brien and Hugh Bedient, to reach the 20-win threshold, as the latter two each won exactly 20 games on a team that set the franchise record for wins in a season (105). Only one other pitcher in team history, Cy Young, won better than 30 games in a season; he accomplished this feat twice, once in Boston’s inagural season of 1901 (33) and then again in 1902 (32). Young also holds the record for the most seasons of 20 or more wins with the Red Sox, having accomplished the feat six times in the eight years that he was part of the starting rotation. After him, there are three pitchers with three seasons of 20 or more wins: Bill Dinneen (1902-1904), Luis Tiant (1973, 1974, 1976), and Roger Clemens (1986, 1987, 1990). Other multiple winners include Babe Ruth, Carl Mays, Boo Ferriss, Jesse Tannehill, Mel Parnell, Wood, Tex Hughson, and Wes Ferrell.

In total, there have been 46 instances where a pitcher won 20 games or more in a season for the Red Sox. Nine times, the starting rotation for Boston has had multiple 20-game winners. Between 1902 and 1904, Dinneen and Young won at least 20 games in each season for the Red Sox and, with Boston pitchers Tom Hughes (20 wins in 1903) and Tannehill (21 wins in 1904) also reaching that plateau, fans were witness to eight instances in three straight seasons that a Sox pitcher accomplished this feat. The most recent instance in which two players on the Red Sox pitching staff won at least 20 games in a single season happened just five years ago in 2002, when Derek Lowe (21) and Pedro Martinez (20) both managed the feat; before that, you have to go back to 1949 to find multiple 20-game winners on the Red Sox pitching staff for one season: Parnell (25) and Ellis Kinder (23). Curiously, there have been ten Boston pitchers in franchise history to fall just one win short of the mark for a single season; of those ten, both Martinez and Howard Ehmke did reach the mark in another season for the Sox. Martinez fell one win shy his first season with the club in 1998 but won 23 the next year, while Ehmke won 19 in 1924, one year after winning 20.

Did You Know? – Red Sox 20-Game Losers

Since 1901, there have been 201 instances where a pitcher has lost 20 games or more in a single season. The most recent pitcher to suffer this dubious “honor” was Mike Maroth in 2003, who went 9-21 for the Detroit Tigers ballclub that lost 119 games, one loss shy of the modern record for most losses in a season by one club. Before that, you have to go back to Brian Kingman, who lost 20 games with the Oakland Athletics in 1980.

In the team’s 106-year history, the Boston Red Sox have had exactly ten 20-game losers. The last time it happened, in 1930, the team actually had two 20-game losers in the rotation: Milt Gaston, who led the team with 13 wins against 20 losses, and Jack Russell, who posted a record of 9-20. That club also lost 102 games, the fourth time in six seasons that the club had lost 100 games or more. Gaston and Russell were also two of five pitchers that had lost 20 games or more over the previous six seasons; Red Ruffing, a future Hall of Fame pitcher whose career would blossom after being traded to New York in 1930, lost 25 and 22 games in 1928 and 1929, respectively; Slim Harriss lost 21 games againt 14 wins in 1927; and Howard Ehmke went 9-20 in 1925.

The four other pitchers in Red Sox history to lose 20 games in a season were: “Sad Sam” Jones, in 1919, two years before he would win a career-high 23 games while still with Boston; Joe Harris, who won just two games while collecting 21 losses in 1906; the legendary Cy Young, who lost 21 games in 1906, the third time in his career that he had lost 20 games or more in a season; and Bill Dinneen, who matched his 21 losses with 21 wins in 1902. Dinnenn was also the only pitcher to lose 20 games for a Boston club that had a winning record.