January 13, 2022

Jon Lester Has Retired After 16 Seasons

Jon Lester has retired after a 16-year career with the Red Sox (2006-14), Athletics (2014), Cubs (2015-20), Nationals (2021), and Cardinals (2021). 

Lester, who turned 38 last Friday, was a member of three World Series champions: the 2007 Red Sox, 2013 Red Sox, and 2016 Cubs.
It's kind of run its course. It's getting harder for me physically. The little things that come up throughout the year turned into bigger things that hinder your performance.
I'd like to think I'm a halfway decent self-evaluator. I don't want someone else telling me I can't do this anymore. I want to be able to hand my jersey over and say, "Thank you, it's been fun."
Throughout his career, Lester was extremely durable, making 31+ starts for 12 consecutive seasons (2008-19). Lester is one of only nine lefthanders in MLB history to have 12 seasons (not necessarily consecutive) with 31+ starts.

Lester was also remarkable consistent. His ERA was 3.64 both for his nine seasons in Boston and his six years in Chicago and his won-loss percentage for both teams was .636. Since the win stat has yet to be outlawed (a boy can dream), I'll also report that Lester (200-117) has the fourth-best winning percentage (.631) of any lefthander with 200+ wins, behind Whitey Ford, Lefty Grove, and Randy Johnson.

In 26 postseason games, Lester posted a 2.51 ERA over 154 innings. His ERA was 2.66 in seven postseason-clinching games.

Lester pitched in six World Series games, with a 1.77 ERA and 0.925 WHIP. For the Red Sox, he won the clinching Game 4 of the 2007 sweep of the Rockies and he won both of his starts (Games 1 and 5) in 2013 against the Cardinals. In 2016 with the Cubs, he lost Game 1, won Game 5 (when Chicago was down 1-3, on the brink of elimination) and pitched three innings of relief in Game 7 (and would have got the W if Aroldis Chapman had not blown the save and vultured the victory for himself).

Four mlb.com writers discuss Lester's chances of being inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Lester had 42 hits in his major league career, but none of them came in a Red Sox uniform. In 41 plate appearances with Boston, he was 0-for-34. He did walk once and drive in a run, though; both came in the same game, on June 27, 2010.

Lester was first mentioned at Joy of Sox on December 20, 2003 (when the blog was roughly four months old!), as a prospect being named as part of the (thankfully) aborted Slappy-for-Manny trade.

Lester made his debut (after waiting out a near five-hour rain delay) on June 10, 2006 and he pitched a no-hitter against the Royals on May 19, 2008. (That is also the Red Sox's most recent no-hitter.)


k r c said...

Thanks for this tribute. It does the soul some good. I remember watching his first game back after he'd beaten cancer, at Professor Tom's in New York, where I was living at the time. I think he pitched 5 or 6 against Cleveland that day, allowing 2 runs and getting the win.

allan said...

July 23, 2007: Boston 6, Cleveland 2
Lester: 6-5-2-3-6
Nice memory . . . if you didn't peek first, that is!
No JoS link. I was away at a wedding of a long-time friend who is now happily divorced.

Paul Hickman said...

When I think of Jon Lester, I will remember that he turned up ...... when it mattered.

The numbers prove it - the more it mattered, the better Jon was & THAT is the Ultimate Compliment for mine.

Whether he makes the HoF is another question for others, but he'll ALWAYS be in The Red Sox Hall of Fame & we definitely won't ever forget him.

A Fabulous Career.

Many Thanks Jon.

Zenslinger said...

Probably have shared this before, but I was in The Bar for his no-hitter. Wasn't too focused on the game, but I looked up to see he had walked a second batter early on and thought, "Oh, Lester's just not gonna be that good."

3.66 lifetime ERA (117 ERA+), long career. What a stud.

FenFan said...

He is definitely a borderline Hall of Fame candidate, but as Paul Hickman states, he is clearly worthy of the Red Sox HoF.

Also consider that, beyond the numbers, Lester faced cancer just over two months after making his major league debut. Since successfully kicking lymphoma in the balls, he has dedicated time and money to provide support to kids battling cancer and several cancer research programs, including the Jimmy Fund. That makes him an All-Star in my book.

Paul Hickman said...

An All Star Human - all you ever want to be !