The Boston Red Sox are having a great run and naturally so are the players – most of them. Just who are the most valuable for the first-half?
The first-half of the season is over and by the traditional All-Star break, the Boston Red Sox will have close to 100 games played. Awards are important as a reward for fine performance and there most certainly can be “awards” for disappointments.
Just who gets awards at this juncture?
Most Valuable Player
This is an easy choice and may also represent the MVP for the American League – Mookie Betts. Certainly, J.D. Martinez has made a significant move in that direction, but Betts is classic five-tool and Martinez will not beat you with his glove or speed. Betts will. After this season is in the books I can just imagine Betts’ arbitration money.
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Most Valuable Pitcher – Rotation
Another easy pick with Chris Sale. Sale is now being mentioned as a clone of Randy Johnson and that is an apt comparison. Sale has managed to actually increase his velocity and that just sets up further hitter embarrassment with possibly the best in baseball slider.
At 29-years-old the tall lefty is in his prime and locked up for at least another season. A Sale mound appearance is now the same as one by Pedro Martinez when he was in his prime.
Most Valuable Pitcher – Bullpen
Joe Kelly and Craig Kimbrel can split this one. Kimbrel may not be at 2017 levels, but that represents almost an impossible task. The save totals continue to accumulate (318 career) as does value since the 30-year-old righty will be a free agent.
Kelly was outstanding in 2017 and built upon that. The setup man for Kimbrel had a downturn in June (8.31 ERA) but has recovered nicely in July. Kelly even has two saves and the free agent to be righty may have a future at closer. The only “down” note is a 4.76 ERA on the road.
After 2017, Xander Bogaert’s stock had dropped considerably, but maybe it was that wrist injury? The projected power for the right-handed Bogaerts is back with 14 home runs compared to just 10 last season. Bogaerts also has been steady at short and his usual self with .354 avearge with RISP.
Frustration Award – Pitching
Eduardo Rodriguez is 11-3 and the Red Sox are 14-3 in his starts. Why is he so painful to watch? E-Rod has a 2.9 BB/9 but tosses 18.1 pitches per inning and 4.24 pitches per batter. The former is third in the AL and the latter is second. As Dennis Eckersley says just live with it. For 5 2/3 innings, this guy is great.
Frustration Award – Hitting
I have to remind myself that Rafael Devers is just 21-years-old. The lefty owner of a power stroke has his moments, but all too often it is inconsistency even within each at-bat. Even Manager Alex Cora has tried fun bets as a motivation to be more selective. The beauty of Devers is just when you are ready to chew your arm off he does a 5-for-5 against the Yankees.
Tenth Player Award
Do they still do that? Brock Holt would be the nice and easy selection especially with his near .400 average against lefty pitching. The Left-hand hitting Holt can play anywhere on the diamond and – granted – it may not be a defensive work of art, but he is back in full force after two injury-plagued seasons.