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Handing out some first half awards

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It wasn’t quite an award-worthy first half for the Red Sox, but we’ll hand out awards anyway.

2019 MLB All-Star Game, presented by Mastercard Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

The Red Sox are coming off a first half that didn’t quite go according to plan, to put it nicely. The team is far out of first place in the division, and the hopes for winning a fourth straight AL East title are close to nonexistent. They have to turn their hopes, most likely, to the wildcard race, and ever there they are two games out there. Because of all that, the coverage of this team has been mostly — and justifiably — negative. Despite all that, I am going to hand out some awards. After all, I am from the everyone-gets-a-trophy generation, or so I’ve been told over the last decade.

MVP

Winner: Xander Bogaerts

Sometimes, the Team MVP race in any given year can be justifiably debated with a lot of different options. Even last year, when Mookie Betts was clearly the best player on the team, people could have and did argue for J.D. Martinez as the team MVP given the impact he made in the lineup and in a teaching/mentor role. This year, there is only one clear answer. The Red Sox have had some good players in 2019, but Bogaerts was clearly the best and most valuable player in Boston prior to the All-Star break. He and Rafael Devers do have the same wRC+, but Bogaerts has been more consistent, more of a leader and has played better defense at a more important position. It’s open-and-shut, really.

Honorable Mention: Rafael Devers

Best Starting Pitcher

Winner: David Price

Instead of just doing a Cy Young award for the team, I’m going to split this into two categories for starters and relievers. Just like with MVP, there is no doubt who gets this award. In fact, one could squeeze in an argument for someone over Bogaerts. There’s no argument for anyone to be called the best starting pitcher for the Red Sox so far this year besides Price. The veteran lefty has been far better and far more consistent than any other starter on the team. Even very early in the year when the rotation was exploding every night, Price was just mediocre-to-bad instead of oh-my-god-what-am-I-watching terrible. He’s been great lately, too, with the blow up against Texas his one hiccup since early May.

Honorable Mention: Chris Sale, by default

Best Relief Pitcher

Winner: Brandon Workman

The Red Sox bullpen has been on the receiving end of much consternation from Red Sox fans, and for good reason. This unit just isn’t talented enough, as most of us acknowledged before the season began, and that they have had to work as often as they have hasn’t helped matters at all. All of this said, there have been some good performances, particularly earlier in the year. Of all of the guys who have gotten chances in high-leverage spots, none have been as good as Workman. The righty has a sub-2.00 ERA, a sub-3.00 FIP and a sub-3.50 DRA. That’s all really good! He’s striking out a bunch of guys and he’s limiting damaging contact at a huge rate. Now, Workman is issuing a ton of free passes and there is plenty of reason to expect some regression. We’re not talking about the future, though. This is about the first half, and Workman was clearly the team’s best reliever prior to the break.

Honorable Mention: Matt Barnes

Boston Red Sox v Detroit Tigers Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images

Most Surprising (Positive)

Winner: Christian Vázquez

This is obvious, right? Christian Vázquez has 14 home runs at the All-Star break. Yes, the baseballs are absurd and home runs are up across the league. But still. Christian Vázquez has fourteen home runs at the All-Star break. He’s right behind guys like Manny Machado and Bryce Harper in terms of wRC+. It’s all absolutely mind-blowing. I considered myself fairly optimistic about Vázquez’ bat heading into this season, but this came out of nowhere. This is the clear choice.

Honorable Mention: Workman

Most Disappointing

Winner: Rick Porcello

Oh, there are so, so many options here. The team has been incredibly disappointing, and so obviously there are a lot of players who have been disappointing as well. Of all of the positional groups, the rotation has certainly been the most disappointing here, so it’s no surprise that a starter gets this “award.” You could make an argument for any non-Price starter, but Porcello takes the cake here. Yes, Chris Sale had higher expectations, but Porcello had decent expectations as well and he’s totally cratered. Historically he’s been better in the second half, and it seemingly can’t get worse.

Honorable Mention: Sale

Most Fun

Winner: Rafael Devers

Did I include this category just so I could make sure Devers won something? You bet your ass I did.

Honorable Mention: Michael Chavis

Best Story

Winner: Marco Hernandez

Leading up to the season and early on when it was becoming clear Dustin Pedroia wasn’t going to be able to play the role he had hoped, one of the most common questions I received on the ol’ Twitter machine was if/when we could expect Hernandez to get up to the majors. My typical response was something along the lines of “September, if everything goes right.” Oops. It’s not that I didn’t like Hernandez the player. On the contrary, I loved his skillset in the minors. However, coming back from multiple major shoulder injuries is incredibly difficult for hitters. He’s come back from so much, so quickly and so productively. Hernandez has earned more playing time, and so far it’s been amazing to see how well he’s come back.

Honorable Mention: Marcus Walden