Welcome to Boston.com’s Sports Q, our daily conversation, initiated by you and moderated by Chad Finn, about a compelling topic in Boston sports. Here’s how it works: You submit questions to Chad through Twitter, Facebook, and email. He’ll pick one each weekday to answer, then we’ll take the discussion to the comments. Chad will stop by several times per day to navigate. But you drive the conversation.
Who is the best single-season closer the Red Sox have ever had?
I threw this one out on Twitter earlier Monday for a reason you can probably figure out if you’re keeping up with the baseball news out of Japan.
Koji Uehara was the least stressful closer the Red Sox will ever have. Man, he was good, and fun.
— Chad Finn (@GlobeChadFinn) May 20, 2019
Koji Uehara, who pitched for the Red Sox from 2013-16, announced his retirement Sunday at age 44 (he was with the Yomiuri Giants).
The Red Sox have had few players more delightful.
And I don’t believe they’ve ever had a closer who was so good at his job as he was in the 2013 championship season.
Uehara allowed 33 hits and 9 walks in 74.1 innings that season, striking out 101. He had a record 0.565 WHIP, a 1.09 ERA, a 11.2/1 K/BB rate, and finished seventh in the AL Cy Young voting. Not bad for a 38-year-old who began the season in middle relief.
Uehara, who just seemed to throw strike after strike, was as fun as he was dominating. He was known for giving high-fives so hard they looked painful to the recipient. He developed a rapport with David Ortiz that led to Papi flipping Uehara over his shoulder after his saves. The 2013 season was extremely fulfilling and meaningful to Boston, and Uehara was a huge part of that.
Wish he could have pitched here forever.
There were some decent suggestions for other candidates. Jonathan Papelbon was a beast from 2006 (when he had a 517 adjusted ERA) through 2008. Keith Foulke earned the most important saves in franchise history, and if you made me choose someone other than Koji, he’s the guy. Tom Gordon was a regular-season force in 1998. Craig Kimbrel was almost untouchable in 2017, though last year clouded that memory somewhat. And you old timers love Dick Radatz.
But the best closer the Red Sox ever had? Let’s put it this way: I’m not sure anyone ever had a better closer than the ’13 version of Koji Uehara.
What does everyone else think (at least among those who didn’t weigh in on Twitter.) Who is the best single-season closer the Red Sox ever had? I’ll hear you in the comments.