Nearing the end of my series of articles about the worst players in franchise history, I take on right field. Fenway’s spacious right field has been home to some of the most beloved players in team history; Dwight Evans, Tony Conigliaro, and Trot Nixon. But the team hasn’t always received stellar play from the position, sometimes giving up quality assets to bring someone aboard who proceeds to flop. Some just may have never been good to begin with. So who among them let us fans down the most?
Castillo takes up the top spot for what little he has accomplished versus what was paid to get him. Castillo was a star in Cuba who became highly sought after once eligible for Major League teams. The Red Sox shelled out a 72.5 million dollar contract spanning seven seasons to sign him, the largest contract ever given to an international free agent. After defecting from Cuba, Castillo was out of baseball for over a year so some rust was to be expected.
Castillo impressed initially, batting .333 with a couple of homers over 36 at-bats for the Red Sox towards the end of the 2014 season. After such a long layoff, this gave many high hopes for his future. Castillo also stole three bases without being caught that September. Unfortunately, the production didn’t last, and the high hopes fizzled out with it.
After being ranked as the 21st best prospect by Baseball America prior to the 2015 season, Castillo batted just .253 with a meager .288 on-base percentage for the Red Sox. His five home runs showed less power than what was expected and he finished with a .359 slugging percentage, lower than Pablo Sandoval’s that season. He was also caught stealing more times than he successfully stole on the bases. As for the field, Castillo finished 4th worst in the American League with his five errors. Of his five errors, four of them came in right field in only 39 starts. His play looked amazingly unrefined.
Castillo was outrighted off the 40 man roster in 2016 and hasn’t been back on it since. Four years into his seven year contract the Red Sox have gotten seven home runs, seven stolen bases and five errors out of their 72.5 million dollar man. Castillo’s contract will only count against the luxury tax if he is added to the 40-man roster, so while there is still a little hope for salvaging some value, he would have to make a big impression to be given another chance. He made strides last season, batting .314 with 15 homers across 87 games in Pawtucket. Will he get another chance to prove himself?
Nicknamed “Hard Hittin’ Whiten”, it is not hard to figure out what Whiten did well. He had his breakout year with the Cardinals in 1993, hitting 25 home runs while driving in 99 runs. That year he also tied Major League records by hitting 4 home runs and driving in 12 runners in one game! The next year, shortened by a strike, Whiten posted a career high .849 OPS. He also had a cannon for an arm out in right field, throwing out 47 base runners over the previous four seasons.
The Red Sox acquired Whiten from the Cardinals in advance of the 1995 season. With how he’d hit the ball in recent seasons, he would fit nicely into a revamped lineup. Well, that was the thought anyways. Whiten lasted with the team until July 24th when they finally shipped him off to Philadelphia. In that time, “Hard Hittin’ Whiten” had managed to hit one home run and three doubles. His batting average was below the Mendoza Line at .185. His rate stats fell off a cliff, posting a .239/.241/.480 triple slash. Instead of Whiten filling the need in right field, Troy O’leary, picked off the scrap heap from Milwaukee answered the call.
As for Whiten, his bat rebounded pretty quickly after leaving Boston, posting an .846 OPS the rest of the way with the Phillies. In 1996, he was mostly good again, hitting 22 home runs with an .848 OPS. So, he was good his two years prior to joining the Red Sox, and just as good, if not better after leaving Boston. In between, he couldn’t hit his own weight. The only thing he did keep in Boston was his strong arm, throwing out four base runners from right field in 31 games.
Wily Mo Pena
Pena was not designed to be a right fielder in Fenway Park. He had little range, and little glove, and the spacious confines of right field did not suit him. Pena was a big man, standing at 6’3″ 260, and had hit 26 home runs in only 336 at-bats in 2004 with the Reds. The biggest problem, the Red Sox traded fan favorite and durable workhorse Bronson Arroyo to acquire him. Arroyo had won 24 games the previous two seasons and had pitched 200 innings in 2005 for the Red Sox. The team would miss his arm, as the rotation experienced injuries and ineffectiveness all season.
Pena had a good first season at the plate, batting .301 with 11 home runs and an .838 OPS in 276 at-bats. He showed the same underlying concerns he had in Cincinnati though, walking just 20 times as opposed to 90 strike outs. He also posted a -0.9 dWAR that season, a number he would duplicate with the Red Sox in 2007.
Wily Mo’s bat fell apart in 2007 as pitchers adjusted to his free swinging ways. A breaking ball in the dirt is all it took to get the big man swinging away. Pena batted .218 that second season with the Red Sox, hitting five home runs across 156 at-bats. The Red Sox cut their losses, sending Pena with cash to the Nationals for a player to be named later (Chris Carter). The power was always real, but his game had too many holes.
Jeremy Hermida, Joe Lahoud, Wes Chamberlain, Shano Collins, Jay Payton
Featured picture from masslive.com