With the BostonRed Sox at the halfway point of the season they find themselves in first place in the AL East with a 3 1/2 game lead over the Baltimore Orioles. They have the best record in the American League at 49-33, and trail only the St. Louis Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Pirates for the best record in all of baseball.
The pitching has been consistent despite injuries and a lot of roster shuffling. The Red Sox team ERA stands at3.87, just below the MLB average of 3.91. Sox pitchers have struck out 697 batters this season, trailing only the Detroit Tigers.
The Red Sox offense has been very steady, productive and damaging. The Sox are tops in baseball in runs scored, doubles, RBI and OPS (on-base plus slugging). The Red Sox are also top 5 in triples, batting average, total bases and on-base percentage. The off-season questions about whether this team would hit have been answered.
With all that said, let’s take a look the Red Sox midseason award winners.
MVP Award:David Ortiz, Jacoby Ellsbury and Daniel Nava are all having solid seasons, but the midseason MVP goes to second baseman Dustin Pedroia. Pedroia is hitting .323 (8th in the AL) with an on-base percentage of .401 (5th in the AL). He also leads the American League second baseman in fielding percentage at .997. Pedroia is first on the Red Sox in games played (81), batting average, hits (102), doubles (21) and runs scored (53). Pedroia has been a constant in the Sox lineup, missing just one game so far this year. He’s played hard and he’s played hurt; suffering a torn thumb ligament in the first game of the year. Pedroia is the pacesetter of the 2013 Red Sox.
Cy Young Award: Candidates for best Red Sox pitcher include Jon Lester (8-4 4.61 ERA), who got off to a great start before cooling off, John Lackey 5-5 2.99 ERA and let’s throw new closer Koji Uehara into the mix as well. But the best pitcher at the midpoint has been Clay Buchholz. Despite not pitching since June 6 with neck/shoulder soreness, Buchholz is 9-0 with a 1.71 ERA. An MRI taken Wednesday showed inflammation, but no structural issues. If the Red Sox success is to continue, they will need a healthy Buchholz going every fifth day.
Fireman Award: Despite the “closerpocalypse” at the back end of the bullpen, Red Sox relievers have been another strength of this year’s team. Andrew Miller and Junichi Tazawa have provided solid middle inning relief work, but with closer Joel Hanrahan done for the season and Andrew Bailey ineffective, it’s 38-year old Japanese import Koji Uehara who gets the midseason fireman’s award as the Red Sox best reliever. Uehara has 4 saves, 13 holds, an ERA of 1.91, a 0.79 WHIP and 48 strikeouts in 33 innings. High fives all around.
Comeback Player Award: The comeback player award would have to go to John Lackey. Lackey has certainly taken his fair share of criticism since signing a 5-year $82.5 million dollar contract in 2010. After missing all of last season with Tommy John surgery, Lackey seems rejuvenated. There's new life on the fastball and his location has been spot on. In his past eight starts, Lackey has a 4-1 record and a 2.44 ERA. He had a career high 12-strikeouts Wednesday against the Rockies. Lackey’s 4.3 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 2013 would be the best of his career. Lackey also looks to be in his best shape since donning a Red Sox uniform. No more mid-game chicken and beer runs, John?
10th Player Award: The Boston Red Sox 10th Player Award was first established in 1975 by WSBK,TV-38 in Boston. Remember Ned Martin and Bob Montgomery? The criteria for the award is that it should go to the player who has "gone above and beyond" and "most exceeded expectations." This year’s candidates include Daniel Nava, Jonny Gomes, Andrew Miller and Koji Uehara. But the winner has to be rookie infielder Jose Iglesias. Coming into the season, the 23-year-old Cuban was regarded as a slick-fielding, light-hitting shortstop with a career .257 average in the minors. This year, filling in for the injured Will Middlebrooks at third base, Iglesias has hit .419 with 52 hits in 37 games. He also took the job from Middlebrooks who was sent back to Pawtucket. Iglesias leads all American League rookies in hits and is tied for third in runs scored by rookies in the AL. There is just no way he can maintain this pace, but Iglesias has proven he belongs in the majors.
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