Boy was the first half fun for the Boston Red Sox. Raise your hand if you predicted the Sox would have: The best record in the American League (55-36), a perfect record against their rival New York Yankees (6-0), and a top-five staff ranking in pitching WAR (11.9). Well if you did you should head straight to Las Vegas right now. Nobody, and I mean nobody, had the Red Sox even near first place when the season started. Now that all expectations have been exceeded, the first half deserves a retrospective account. In honor of the best players and moments that made all of this possible, here are the first half awards–Red Sox edition.
Nominees: J.D. Martinez, Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts
Winner: Xander Bogaerts
The team leader in WAR, wRC+, wOBA, and BABIP has been the team’s most consistent player. Right out of the gate it seemed that Bogaerts was primed for another outstanding season. While Martinez and Devers have had a point in the season where they experienced extended slumps, Bogaerts has been the constant. Even as an all-star starter it still seems as though he’s underrated.
Nominees: Marwin Gonzalez, Enrique Hernandez, Hunter Renfroe
Winner: Hunter Renfroe
Each of these nominees has a legit case here. Gonzalez’s versatility has done so much to help Alex Cora give rest to key players. If anyone needs a day off Gonzalez can step right in. Not only does he step in but he carries a solid glove to each almost position he’s played. He had a positive UZR/150 at three different positions. Hernandez has settled down quite nicely as the team’s everyday centerfielder, but this award goes to Renfroe due to the fact that he has arguably been the absolute best defensive right fielder in all of baseball. On top of that, he’s done the impossible and has played Fenway Park’s daunting right field at a level comparable to Mookie Betts.
Nominees: Matt Barnes, Nathan Eovaldi, Adam Ottavino
Winner: Matt Barnes
Barnes gets the edge here over Eovaldi. Both have been stellar, and in terms of WAR, have been top-five in their respective roles. What makes Barnes the most valuable is the fact that he’s close to the top in more key categories in his role. Barnes is first in reliever xFIP, and second in reliever WAR, and saves. You can make a legit argument that he is the very best at his position in the American League.
Nominees: J.D. Martinez, Josh Taylor
Winner: J.D. Martinez
It’s been well documented that Martinez struggled last season. We all know the lack of technology in the clubhouse hindered the production of one of baseball’s best hitters over the last decade. It’s been a welcomed sight to see him return to his All-Star form. Martinez’s April performance alone was enough to let us all know that he’s back and better than ever. If not for the superhuman performance of Shohei Ohtani, Martinez would have a legit case to carry the mantle as the best DH in baseball.
Nominees: Hunter Renfroe, Josh Taylor, Garrett Whitlock
Winner: Josh Taylor
26 consecutive scoreless appearances. Only one inning shy of the team record set by Koji Uehara in 2013. 26 consecutive scoreless appearances is amazing in itself, but what may be even more remarkable is the complete 180 his season has taken since the end of April. In the month of April, Taylor made 10 appearances. In nine innings he allowed nine runs on 18 hits. That’s good for an 8.68 ERA and .515 BABIP. Now all of a sudden he is an integral part of one of the best bullpens in baseball.
Nominees: Sweep Yankees in Boston, Sweep Yankees in New York, Hernandez’s game-saving throw in Oakland
Winner: Sweep Yankees in New York
It’s one thing to conquer your rival on your turf with your fans cheering at a fever pitch. It’s another thing to basque in the silence of your rival’s home stadium after you just completed a three-game sweep. On the weekend of June 4, The Red Sox went into the Bronx and made a statement. It was their first sweep in New York since 2011. Before that series, the Sox had dropped 11 in a row at Yankee Stadium. The last two games were come-from-behind wins as well. Series like that often become defining moments for championship teams.
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J.D. Martinez, Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, Marwin Gonzalez, Enrique Hernandez, Hunter Renfroe, Matt Barnes, Nathan Eovaldi, Adam Ottavino, Mookie Betts, Josh Taylor, Shohei Ohtani, Garrett Whitlock, Koji Uehara,