COMMENTARY | The Boston Red Sox are 58-39 on the season with the most wins of any team in Major League Baseball. It's quite an impressive turnaround from one year ago when Boston was the laughingstock of the league. Some individual performers are just as unbelievable.
Here is a look at several of the best performances from the first half of the season:
Most Valuable Hitter - David Ortiz
Talk about an unbelievable season. Following a stint on the disabled list to start the year, Ortiz has absolutely demolished the ball. Big Papi has 19 HRs and 65 RBIs in 77 games. He also has an OPS of 1.008, just extraordinary numbers for a 37-year-old coming off an Achilles injury. Ortiz has also been one of the most clutch performers in the league, boasting a .315 batting average with runners in scoring position. This year. Big Papi also became the all-time leader in hits for a designated hitter, surpassing Harold Baines. With numbers like these, it's no surprise at all that Ortiz was named an All-Star.
Most Valuable Pitcher - John Lackey
What a season it has been for Lackey. The right-hander has bounced back from Tommy John surgery masterfully. Lackey is having one of the best seasons of his career, with a 2.78 ERA and a 1.136 WHIP. Both of those numbers would be career-bests if the year were to end now. What makes this even more impressive is the fact that Lackey started the season with an arm injury in his first start. The 34-year-old has essentially been the Red Sox's ace as of late, considering Jon Lester continues to struggle and Clay Buchholz can't stay on the field.
Best Reliever - Koji Uehara
The versatile Uehara was a tremendous pickup for Boston this offseason. Originally slotted in the setup role, Uehara has become the emergency closer for the Red Sox and has performed very well. The veteran righty has eight saves for a Boston team that had multiple pitchers fail in the slot. Uehara's 1.70 ERA is the best of his career, and he continues to impress with a .72 WHIP. While Andrew Bailey may end up back as the closer, it's good to know that Uehara can fill the need when necessary. Versatility is always valuable.
Most Improved (Not Counting Injury) - Daniel Nava
Nava has taken advantage of finally getting regular time for Boston. Nava was an afterthought in the spring, but injuries and ineffective play by others gave him an opportunity to play full time. Nava paid the Red Sox back with an All-Star-like first half. The outfielder already has more HRs (10) and RBIs (52) than he had in all of last year. Nava, who is hitting .288, continues to be a key player in a lineup that has helped pace the Red Sox to first place.
Dirt Dog Award - Dustin Pedroia
What a season Pedroia has had. Even more impressive than his play is the lack of attention he is receiving. The All-Star finished the first half with a .316 average, six HRs and 56 RBIs. Pedroia is only behind Jacoby Ellsbury with his number of runs scored (57) and continues to consistently get on base (.396).
Pedroia has to get credit for being one of the leaders of a team that has done a total 180 from last year on and off the field. The wins are one thing; the attitude in the clubhouse is another. This is a team that truly trusts and respects one another, and it has certainly paid off in the win column. Pedroia's leadership is a major contributor to the success of the Sox.
Best Rookie - Jose Iglesias
Even though he had a cup of coffee in both 2011 and 2012, Jose Iglesias is still considered a rookie. With that being the case, he is hands down the rookie of the year for Boston so far. Iglesias is hitting .367 with an OBP of 417. These numbers are ever more impressive considering Iglesias came in hitting just .257 in Triple-A. His defense has never been questioned, as he has owned the left side of the diamond this season. But he is finally silencing some critics with his bat.
It's difficult to imagine if Iglesias will be able to keep up this incredible pace. However, seeing a much more confident player at the plate gives Red Sox Nation faith that Iglesias can be on this team for the foreseeable future.
Chris Sedenka is a Yahoo! Contributor in Sports covering the Boston Red Sox. You can listen to his daily radio show on 96.3FM in Portland, ME or at thebigjab.com. He is also the voice of the Maine Red Claws of the NBA D-League.
You can follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisSedenka.
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