The Red Sox have had a lot of post season success in the last decade and a half. Since 2003, they have won 3 World Series titles, an unthinkable number for people raised on the Curse of the Bambino. Throw in ALCS appearances in 2003 and 2008 and short but sweet October berths in 2005, 2009 and 2016, Boston fans have had a lot to cheer for.
And in that time, David Ortiz, Josh Beckett, Koji Uehara, Manny Ramirez and Mike Lowell won either ALCS or World Series MVP. (Ortiz won both.)
But for the first 103 years of Red Sox baseball, there was a grand total of ONE Boston player who won a post season series MVP. That would be Marty Barrett. And depending on who you talk to, he almost had two.
The Arcadia California native and Arizona State grad was drafted into the Red Sox organization in the late 1970’s. Along with Wade Boggs and Cal Ripken, he participated in the 33 inning game between Pawtucket and Rochester in 1981. He actually scored the winning run.
In 1982, he made his debut with the squad and eventually phased out aging Red Sox star Jerry Remy. As a Sox fan, I remember resenting Barrett for taking over for Remy, but I was eventually won over.
Not a superstar at the plate, he made terrific contact and played solid defense up the middle. He was a .303 hitter in 1984 and the Red Sox, with Boggs, Rice, Buckner, Evans, Armas and Gedman, were assembling one of their top lineups. Barrett’s ability to hit the other way, sacrifice and not strikeout made him a valuable bat in a lineup of sluggers.
In 1986, when the pitching staff caught up with the lineup, Barrett had his best year. He was moved from the lead off spot to the number 2 hole and took advantage of having the best on base percentage player in front of him.
He rewarded the Sox with career highs in RBI, hits, doubles, triples and steals and the Sox took command of the Division early and didn’t look back.
With a galaxy of stars on the roster, it was Barrett who shone brightest in 1986. Sure Dave Henderson had the highlight to end all highlights against the Angels, Barrett’s bat was actually the hottest. He was the ALCS MVP.
Keep in mind what that meant.
There was no official World Series MVP before 1918. The Red Sox won no titles between 1918 and 2004. (Maybe you heard.) The ALCS MVP did not begin until 1980, so there was no official MVP for the 1975 Red Sox series sweep over Oakland.
And then took his hot bat into the World Series.
In the entire 1986 post season, he set the record with 24 hits in 14 games. He batted .433 against the Mets and had an on base percentage .514 and an OPS of 1.014, doing so with only 2 extra base hits.
In the potential clinching Game 6, Barrett reached base 5 times, scored a run and drove in 2, including Wade Boggs with a critical insurance run in the 10th inning that game Boston a 5-3 lead into the bottom of the 10th.
Annnnnnnd we all know what happened after that.
He got a hit in the Game 5 finale, finishing the post season with a .400 average and a .929 OPS. But he also finished the post season itself with a strikeout that ended the World Series.
Barrett had a solid 1987 and played in the 1988 ALCS for the Red Sox. But by 1990, he was phased out by the arrival of Jody Reed and Luis Rivera. He was a role player in the 1990 ALCS. After 12 games with the 1991 Padres, Barrett’s big league career was over.
Now I have heard that his 5 times on base in Game 6 made him the player of the game, until of course the Mets rally.
I have also heard conflicting accounts about the World Series MVP. Some said that had the Red Sox held onto the lead, Barrett would have been named World Series MVP, with the hitting numbers to back it up.
Another account had Bruce Hurst, who won his first two starts and logged a complete game in over of them, would get the hardware.
The point is moot and Ray Knight won the World Series MVP. But had it gone Barrett’s way, he would have had all the post season MVP awards in the history of the Red Sox until 2004.
Well in truth he WAS the only winner, but he would have had a nice match.