ESPN's Jayson Stark tapped Iglesias as his first-half AL rookie of the year
ESPN senior baseball writer Jayson Stark has handed out his MLB midseason awards, and two key members of the Boston Red Sox feature prominently.
Stark tapped Red Sox shortstop/third baseman Jose Iglesias as first-half Rookie of the Year and skipper John Farrell as first-half American League Manager of the Year, which should come as both no surprise and well-deserved to rabid Red Sox acolytes.
Iglesias, who has been a key spark plug for the Sox since being called up from Pawtucket in late May and was named American League Rookie of the Month in June, has put in electric stints both at third base — which helped hand struggling Will Middlebrooks a ticket down to the farm — and shortstop, which made Pedro Ciriaco an Expendable.
Iglesias, who was well known for his defensive prowess as well as an anemic presence at the plate, has turned that logic on its head and done nothing but hit, and hit consistently, since his latest shot at a permanent berth in the bigs. He’s currently batting .387 with 65 hits, 11 walks, 10 doubles, two triples and 16 RBI in 49 games.
As Stark points out, Iglesias is the first American League rookie to collect 43 hits in his first 100 at-bats of the season since Tony Oliva in 1964 and only the third Red Sox player to notch 60 hits in his first 150 at-bats behind Ted Williams and Manny Ramirez.
When it comes to Farrell, Stark gives credit where it is wholly due: Former pitching coach Farrell returned to the Red Sox after a two-year job managing the Toronto Blue Jays and entered a dugout filled with acrimony and resentment following Bobby Valentine’s toxic one-year turn at the helm, and has turned the team around completely. The Red Sox have the best record in baseball at the halfway mark at 57-37 and suddenly there are solid, instantly lovable new personalities in the clubhouse the likes of which haven’t been seen since The Idiots of 2004.
“The most amazing part of the team’s journey to first place isn’t the production it has gotten from 37-year-old David Ortiz, or the emergence of guys such as Daniel Nava and Iglesias, or the brilliance of Clay Buchholz (when healthy), or the bullpen-rescuing of closer No. 3, Koji Uehara,” writes Stark. “It’s that, when you’re around the Red Sox, it feels as though last year never happened.
“That’s a tribute to the leadership of Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia. It’s a reflection of the excellent job GM Ben Cherington did in bringing in players of exceptional character. But no one should minimize the manager’s many contributions — from reviving his pitching staff to finding a way to get 12 different players at least 140 plate appearances to, above all, restoring the Red Sox vibe that was all he once knew, back in happier times.”
Stark also singled out the following names for commendation/criticism at the mid-season mark: Yadier Molina, St. Louis (NL MVP); Miguel Cabrera, Detroit (AL MVP); B.J. Upton, Atlanta (NL Least Valuable Player); Josh Hamilton, Anaheim (AL Least Valuable Player); Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles (NL Cy Young); Max Scherzer, Detroit (AL Cy Young); Ian Kennedy, Arizona (NL Cy “Yuk”); Joe Blanton, Anaheim (Al Cy “Yuk”); Shelby Miller, St. Louis (NL rookie of the year); Clint Hurdle, Pittsburgh (NL manager of the year).
Stark also considered but decided against (yet made apologies to): Dustin Pedroia (AL MVP) and Buchholz (AL Cy Young).