Boston Red Sox: First Half Awards
Boston Red Sox' First Half Awards
It is the All-Star break. That means four days of no games that count towards the standings, and a time to look back on the first “half” of the season. You can go to any website and see them debate the first half awards for the league, but what about the first half awards within a given team?
The Boston Red Sox had a great first half finishing with more wins than any other team in baseball, 58, and a 2.5 game lead in the AL East.
But that doesn’t mean it has been a year without its troubles. The top of the pitching staff has either been injured (Clay Buchholz) or underperformed (Jon Lester) and the bullpen has been a mess at the back end. They have added a bullpen arm in Matt Thornton, and Koji Uehara appears to have settled in nicely to the closer role. The Red Sox will likely need to make a trade for a starter before the trade deadline, with the obvious belle of the ball being Chicago Cubs righty Matt Garza.
Now, back to awards, I am assigning ten awards for the first half. There are the usual awards (Rookie of the Year, Cy Young, and MVP), single organization takes on typical awards (Best Reliever, Silver Slugger, and Gold Glove), Minor League awards (best hitter and pitcher), and a couple that aren’t really given out often (Most Improved and 10th Man).
A couple winners may be somewhat obvious and others not so much like the minor league awards which won’t go to the best prospects, but rather the guys that have had the best seasons thus far.
Minor League Pitcher of the Year: Anthony Ranaudo
Anthony Ranaudo has been unimpressive in the two All-Star Games he played in this year -- AA All-Star Game and the Futures Game -- but he has had an incredible season as a whole. He is 8-2 with a 2.67 ERA and has more strikeouts than innings pitched for AA Portland Sea Dogs. He has rocketed up prospect boards, jumping from 13 to 6 on Sox Prospects rankings. The main concern with Ranaudo is his control. He averages about three walks per nine innings, but he only managed to pitch 37 2-3 innings in 2012 before being shut down with shoulder issues, so the control will only improve in time. The future is bright for Ranaudo, and he has had the best season of any minor league pitcher in the Boston Red Sox system.
Minor League Hitter of the Year: Garin Cecchini
Garin Cecchini has been an on-base machine regardless of what level he is playing at this year. He hit .350 and got on base at a .469 clip in 63 games at Salem before forcing his way up to AA Portland. In the 20 games since the call up, he has a .347 average and a .456 on-base percentage. His defense still needs some work, but he is working hard on improving his glove. His overall athleticism will make him a quality outfielder if his defense doesn’t improve enough or if he gets blocked with the incredible amount of left side infield talent the Boston Red Sox system possesses.
10th Man: Jonny Gomes
Jonny Gomes is a part time starter, part time pinch hitter, full time gamer. It seems he has more big time late inning hits this season than even David Ortiz. On days he is not in the lineup, he still manages to inject energy into the team with his personality. He is as intense a competitor as there is in the game, and you can see teammates cracking up every game.
Most Improved Player: Daniel Nava
Daniel Nava was the second biggest All-Star game snub this year behind the Oakland A’s Josh Donaldson. After crushing a grand slam on the first pitch he ever saw in the big leagues, Nava has been an average player until this year. This season he has hit more home runs in 87 games (10) than he did in his first 148 games of his career (7). He has almost doubled his career RBI total with 52 this year after driving in just 59 in his first two seasons. In addition to the power, he has improved his batting average more than 40 points. Daniel Nava has gone from a fourth or fifth outfielder to a guy that must be in the lineup every night, even if that means giving Mike Napoli a day off so Nava can play first base.
Relief Pitcher of the Year: Koji Uehara
Koji Uehara's personality lights up the Boston Red Sox every time he steps between the lines. He is such a fan favorite, his campaign during the Final Vote to get him to the All-Star game was called “High Five Citi”. Despite how much fun it is to watch him run up and down the dugout getting as many high fives as he could find, the most enjoyable thing to watch Uehara do this year is pitch. He has a 1.70 ERA, his k/9 rate is over 12.5, and he has stepped in and locked up the closer role.
Rookie of the Year: Jose Iglesias
Boston Red Sox fans have long known Jose Iglesias possesses great defensive ability, but they have always been uncertain whether or not his bat could play at the Major League level; this season it certainly has. Iglesias has played games at second, short, and third this year, and to nobody’s surprise he has just one error. Then you look at his batting stats where he is hitting .367 with a .417 on-base percentage. His batting average on balls in play is an incredible .414, so there will be some regression, but I have been saying that for a month now. Not only is he the no doubt Red Sox Rookie of the Year, he just might be the front runner to be the AL Rookie of the Year.
Silver Slugger: David Ortiz
– David Ortiz has been, well, David Ortiz. After passing Harold Baines for most career hits by a DH, Ortiz' name is next to almost every record for that position. Despite being 37 years old, He has put up 19 long balls, driven in 65 runs, has a batting average of .317, and an on-base percentage over .400. Ortiz is hitting the ball like he did back when he was considered the greatest clutch batter in the game and led the Boston Red Sox to two World Series titles in less than a handful of years.
Gold Glove: Shane Victorino
Shane Victorino likely won’t even get a sniff of the AL Gold Glove at the end of this year, but if you watch the Boston Red Sox, Victorino’s defense has come up huge over and over again. He has just two errors so far this season and has gunned down six base runners, on pace for his third best season of his career in terms of gunning guys down. Regardless of what the advanced metrics might say, Victorino’s defense has been clutch. It seems that if there is a big catch or big throw late in a tight game in the outfield, more often than not, Victorino is the one making the play.
Cy Young: John Lackey
Clay Buccholz has been the best pitcher this year for the Boston Red Sox, but he has missed a month and a half. John Lackey has quietly put up some impressive numbers. He only has a 7-6 record, but that is in no fault of his own. His ERA is just 2.78 and a strike out to walk rate nearing five. While he may not be a guy that will give the team 8-9 innings anymore, he consistently puts in six innings and turns the game over to the bullpen with a chance to win. He has been the most reliable and consistent pitcher in the starting staff the Red Sox rolled out there all season.
MVP: Dustin Pedroia
You can argue that Dustin Pedroia has been the team MVP since his 2006 call up. Pedroia has been good as ever this season. He is fifth in the American League in both batting average and on-base percentage and is in the top 10 in runs scored. Pedroia is on pace to finish with over 90 runs scored and 90 runs batted in, and while his home run numbers are down, he will likely have 20 stolen bases again this season. Pedroia is the epitome of valuable. He contributes in every statistical category, provides excellent defense, and is an absolute leader in the clubhouse. Pedroia is the hands down MVP of the Boston Red Sox.