With the halfway point (just after, really — it’s been 90 games) it’s time to break out the midseason Red Sox awards! Only players currently with the Red Sox are eligible. Players could only win or be the runner up once. Once their name comes up, they’re done.
Most Valuable Player: J.D Drew — .298/.405/.559, 16 HR (runner up: Mike Lowell)
Drew has softened the blow of losing David Ortiz for an extended period of time. Without Drew’s hot June, there’s no telling what this club would have done. With Drew’s emergence, this team hasn’t missed a beat because there has been essentially no dropoff in offensive production. As a matter of fact, you could make the case that the team got better because the Sox were able to put the defensively maligned Manny Ramirez at D.H. To be sure, when Papi returns, the team will be that much more of an offensive force. But by removing Papi from the equation and inserting Drew’s production, the team has actually improved post-Papi. Imagine that.
That being said, he’s reverted to previous levels so far in July, but of course, it’s early. But watch Drew.
Cy Young Award: Jon Lester — 7-3, 125 IP, 3.38 ERA, 1.33 WHIP (runner up: Daisuke Matsuzaka)
Lester has been a relevation this year and beats out Dice-K for the award even though Dice is 9-1 with a 2.84 ERA. Why? Well, because Lester has walked 44 batters and Dice-K has walked eight more in just over 40 less innings. Lester has the no-hitter, the complete-gamer at Yankee Stadium. He’s the one who elicts the buzz from the crowd this year. The workload of Lester, however, is concerning. He already has 125 innings pitched and hurled 117 pitches against the Twins last time out. Let’s just say I’m not in the least bit surprised that Tito didn’t tab Lester for an All-Star roster spot. I would expect the Red Sox to use the All-Star Break as an advantage to get Lester some extended rest.
Rookie of the Year: Jacoby Ellsbury — .271/.343/.380, 35 SB (runner up: Justin Masterson)
It’s hard to argue against Jacoby for Rookie of the Year. As the leadoff man, he’s contributed so much to the Red Sox. His power isn’t there, but he shows it in flashes. Only a recent slump has derailed his All-Star candidacy, but he’s snapping out of it and has 35 steals on the season against seven caught, most of which are errors on Jacoby’s part. He plays a gifted center and left-field and Billy Beane has been known to say that he believes Jacoby is the best defensive outfielder in the major leagues, period. That he’s the only one that can play all outfield positions at a superior level. He’s not likely to win Rookie of the Year due to Tampa Bay’s surge to the top and Evan Longoria’s heavy hand in it, but it would be a shock if he didn’t finish at least second.
Least Valuable Player: Julio Lugo — .264/.349/.327, 16 E (runner up: Mike Timlin)
It’s kind of interesting how Lugo’s line looks like he’s a poor man’s Jacoby Ellsbury. He also has 11 steals on the season, but the glaring number here is the 16 errors he’s fashioned at shortstop. And even though he can be considered a poor man’s Jacoby Ellsbury offensively, I think there’s no disagreement that a poor man’s Jacoby Ellsbury is a poor man, period. He gets on base an average amount of times and has a putrid 19 RBI on the year. He’s an automatic GIDP anytime he comes up with any runner on base. And in the clutch? Forget it. He and Coco Crisp are the antimatter of David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez.
Disappointment of Year: Hideki Okajima — 37.2 IP, 2.87 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 16 holds (runner up: David Ortiz)
We all know about Oki-Doke’s inherited runners quandary. He hasn’t lived up to expectations, but how can you really live up to a year like last year? Fortunately, he’s starting to turn things around, but he’s easily the sore thumb that sticks out from the first half. He may be able to turn things around and cause the Red Sox to not feel pressured to bolster their bullpen, but the very reason the talk of town is about bolstering the bullpen is because of Oki’s struggles. An effective Okajima lengthens what is actually a pretty impressive collection of talent in the ‘pen.
Saturn Balls Award: Dustin Pedroia — .313/.355/.459 (runner up: Jonathan Papelbon)
Pedroia slumped during May and had a lot of people whispering about him. He’s still striking out a bit more than usual and hasn’t displayed his plate discipline he was known for, but at least he’s putting the bat on the ball, right? He’s also an extremely capable second baseman and always finds a way to get dirty by the end of the game. He personifies the phrase “Saturn Balls,” which was coined by Curt Schilling in 2003 about Bronson Arroyo.