First things first. Major League Baseball games are not won through computer simulations. We get it. That's a given.
So now that we've got that out of the way, let's try and answer a question.
Is it really possible that the 1946 Red Sox team could be the best team in franchise history?
According to the 'Red Sox Showdown for the Ages," a project done with a ton of help from the good folks over at www.nesn.com/2011/07/johnny-pesky-delivers-clutch-performance-helps-1946-team-win-red-sox-showdown-for-the-ages.html" target="_blank">WhatIfSports.com, it was the www.nesn.com/2011/07/johnny-pesky-delivers-clutch-performance-helps-1946-team-win-red-sox-showdown-for-the-ages.html" target="_blank">'46 team that outlasted 15 other Red Sox teams to earn the distinction of the best team in franchise history.
Again, we hear you. Computer simulations aren't real baseball. We got it. Moving on.
The answer to the aforementioned question, though, can the '46 team really be the best in Boston baseball history? Well, in short, yeah, they could.
It's so easy to sit back and say that the 2004 team -- or even the 2007 club -- are the best in Red Sox history. And while you can't discount the fact that the '04 and '07 teams did something that '46 could not -- win a World Series -- you can't be too quick to discount the '46 team in the storied history of the Red Sox.
Let's start with the lineup, shall we?
This is the lineup that manager Joe Cronin rolled out on Opening Day:
Dom DiMaggio, CF
Johny Pesky, SS
Ted Williams, LF
Bobby Doerr, 2B
Rudy York, 1B
Catfish Metkovich, RF
Ernie Andres, 3B
Hal Wagner, C
Tex Hughson, P
Just look at the top of that order. Dom DiMaggio was a seven-time All-Star. Johnny Pesky has his number retired at Fenway Park and finished fourth in MVP voting in 1946. Ted Williams is the greatest hitter that has ever played the game. Bobby Doerr is a Hall of Famer.
In fact, take a good look at the top of that order. Now, check out the MVP voting results from 1946 below.
1. Ted Williams, Boston
2. Hal Newhouser, Detroit
3. Bobby Doerr, Boston
4. Johnny Pesky, Boston
Oh, and for what it's worth, DiMaggio finished ninth in voting, two spots behind Red Sox pitcher Dave Ferriss.
The Sox rolled to a 104-50 record that summer, and they finished a whopping 12 games ahead of Detroit in the American League. They could win games in a variety of ways. Some days, they slugged their ways to win behind that historical lineup. Others, they gave the ball to Ferriss and the rest of a pitching staff that was actually one of the better in franchise history. Only 34 teams in Red Sox history have scored more runs than the '46 team. And only 13 teams -- that played at least 141 games -- gave up fewer runs.
With Cronin, the franchise leader in both games managed and wins, at the helm, the '46 crew stormed into the World Series. They even took the Cardinals to the brink of elimination before Stan Musial and Enos Slaughter's mad dash helped St. Louis run Boston's title drought to a then-modest 28 years.
When you look back on the best and most popular teams in Red Sox history, 1946 is often overlooked. Instead, fans conjure the memories of teams like 1967 and 1975 for their popularity and coming so close. They'll remember 1986 and 2003 for the immense heartbreak. They'll remember 2004 and 2007 for the titles. And 1918 will always be, well, 1918.
But often times, the 1946 team is forgotten for how darn good it really was.
Another thing fans sometimes forget is the type of friendship and bond that was forged on that team particularly between DiMaggio, Pesky, Williams and Doerr. That bond was so tight, in fact, that it's been documented in print and in statue form, as well.
Not only were the 1946 Red Sox supremely talented, they also had intangibles and by all accounts, a strong clubhouse.
But, hey, we can't count that in this discussion. Those types of things don't show up in those computers anyway, right?