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OTM Roundtable: Playoff MVP (so far)

Pretty self-explanatory.

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Championship Series - Houston Astros v Boston Red Sox - Game Three Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The Boston Red Sox postseason run is not over, as they have a chance to extend their season by at least one game, and perhaps more than that, if they can get a win here on Friday in Game Six of the ALCS against the Houston Astros. We’re certainly not counting them out, and in fact with Nathan Eovaldi on the mound we feel as good as we can heading into an elimination game, but this postseason run has been amazing even if it does end tonight. And so for the roundtable question this week, we picked our team MVP of the run.

Stephen Thompson

The Red Sox are in the midst of a deep playoff run, one that very few saw coming. They’ve awoken a beast, drawing from all corners of the roster to create a formula that dispatched the American League’s only 100-win team in four games. This makes the task of naming an MVP to this point incredibly difficult because — like any team that makes it this far — Boston’s benefited from massive contributions by just about everyone.

Kiké Hernandéz has suddenly gone supernova, ripping off a .463/.477/.927 slash line and hitting five homers over nine 2021 postseason games. Chirstian Váquez has hammered clutch hit after clutch hit. Eduardo Rodriguez has responded from a disastrous outing in Game One against the Rays with consecutive quality starts and an electric taunt of Carlos Correa (I don’t care what Alex Cora says, that was cool). Nick Pivetta and frankly the entire bullpen have captured our hearts with their energy and dominance. JD Martinez and Rafael Devers are both mashing while down a functioning limb. I could keep going, but will cut it short there.

When this many guys are playing so well, I look to singular moments, the pivotal kind that set the table for everyone else to do their thing. From that view, it all comes back to Nathan Eovaldi. The Red Sox are undefeated in each of his three starts this postseason. He ate the Yankees for lunch in the Wildcard Game, delivered five innings of two-run ball in Game Three of the Division Series and was the headliner when Boston stole a Game Two win in Houston during the Championship Series. Tuesday night should have been another favorable notch in his decorated playoff resume, but it wasn’t and I don’t want to talk about it. Momentum doesn’t swing the way it has without him and that’s why he’s my Playoff MVP so far.

Scott Neville

My Red Sox playoff MVP is Nick Pivetta. As of right now, Pivetta is 1-0 with a 2.63 ERA in 13 23 innings. He’s been dominant in a unique role that has really kept this pitching staff together. While his numbers are great, his relief appearance in game three of the ALDS is what stands out. An MVP needs a moment, and that moment will ingratiate Pivetta with the Boston fanbase for life. That game seemed to light a fire for this team that has played essentially lights out since. They haven’t gone undefeated but they also never feel down and out. Eovaldi’s relief appearance in the 2018 World Series fired up that juggernaut in almost the exact same scenario. The difference is that Pivetta actually won that game, and has been lights out since.

Championship Series - Houston Astros v Boston Red Sox - Game Four Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Michael Walsh

The only right answer here is Enrique Hernández. Kiké has been absolutely unconscious at the plate this postseason and has played a major role in every single series thus far. He reached base twice and scored a run in the WC game, and has accumulated 37 total bases in 40 PA between the ALDS and the first 4 games of the ALCS. That’s just not even fair. Hernández hasn’t just been the hottest hitter on the Red Sox, he’s been the hottest hitter on the planet.

Brendan Campbell

While I initially thought about going with Enrique Hernandez here, I have ultimately decided to name Rafael Devers as my Red Sox playoff MVP. Devers provided the only offense in Wednesday’s loss to the Astros by crushing his fifth home run of the postseason, which is tied for the most on the team with Hernandez.

Devers also leads the Red Sox in RBI (12), runs scored (11), and is tied for the team lead in walks (seven) with Hunter Renfroe. I also feel like he’s been playing pretty sound defense at third base since he’s only committed a total of one error across 196 innings at the position so far in these playoffs.

With these numbers in mind, I believe it’s only right to name Devers as Boston’s postseason MVP thus far. Not only is he producing offensively and consistently coming through in clutch spots, but he is doing so while dealing with an apparent right forearm or wrist injury that appears to be pretty painful whenever he swings and misses at the plate. So, yeah, shoutout to Raffy and happy early birthday to him as well.

Shelly Verougstraete

The MVP of the postseason so far has to be Enrique Hernández. He has hit some huge home runs, made some great catches (even better facial expressions) and just flat out been so much fun to watch.

Bayleigh Von Schneider

I think the Red Sox playoff MVP is quite an easy one to answer, and that man is simply, Enrique Hernández. While Hernández has cooled off a bit, and the Red Sox offense as a whole has been DOA since game 3 of the ALCS, overall Kiké’s numbers have been been sensational. Kiké has an unreal .422 AVG, an OPS of 1.282, has hit five home runs, and driven in nine. Hernández is having a playoffs for the ages.

Phil Neuffer

When you make a run this deep, there are always going to be a few candidates, but I think the Red Sox’s playoff MVP has lowkey been J.D. Martinez. Maybe that’s not all that lowkey; the man does have a 215 wRC+ in 35 plate appearances this postseason, but a few other guys, namely Enrique Hernández, would probably be most people’s answer and I honestly waffled back and forth between Martinez and Hernández. However, Martinez has accrued 0.49 win probability added (WPA), outpacing Hernández by a decent margin (0.31), and I firmly believe that his three-run home run in game two of the ALDS was the turning point of that series, even if Hernández’s solo home run a few batters earlier tied things. Of course, right now, the Red Sox need anyone and everyone to be the hero, so here’s hoping Martinez, Hernández and everyone else shows up big this weekend.

Mike Carlucci

With all due respect to Kiké Hernandez the Sox postseason MVP is Nathan Eovaldi. In sixteen innings, from the Wild Card game through his ALCS relief appearance, Eovaldi has struck out 21 batters. He’s allowed 10 runs, but four of those were over .2 innings of relief. His FIP of 2.93 is much more reflective of his performance than a 5.51 ERA. The Red Sox have called upon their most dependable starter in 2021 for three starts and the Sox won all three games. Eovaldi lead baseball in FIP this season (2.79), games started (32), and had personal second-best of 182.1 innings in the regular season. Win or lose tonight, expect Eovaldi to keep the Sox in the contest.

Avery Hamel

My Red Sox MVP for the season so far is a combination of rovers out of the bullpen. Both Nick Pivetta and Tanner Houck have dazzled out of the pen, holding opponents to little success and eating up innings to save the rest of the bullpen. These practices in the ALDS practically saved the Sox after their abysmal Game 1 and Game 2 starts. Pivetta has shown up well in his one start thus far, and Houck has provided a start’s worth of innings in the combination of these two initial series. Both have come up big in spots when they were needed (Pivetta obviously in games one and three of the ALDS and Houck in Game 2 of the ALDS especially, and beyond). These two have overperformed what most believed was possible from them, which is why I believe they both qualify for playoff MVP thus far.

(Sidenote: Nathan Eovaldi has also been impressively useful and versatile from the ‘pen, so he deserves an HM for this category as well)

Matt Collins

I’ll be honest, I had my case all set up for Nathan Eovaldi just to change it up a bit because I expected pretty much everyone to say Kiké Hernández. But they didn’t, so I’ll just go with the obvious and say Kiké. You know the reasons.

Bob Osgood

The MVP of the Red Sox postseason to this point is Nate Eovaldi. With a 5.51 ERA, the pick seems a bit unorthodox but I am not going to let the four runs that Eovaldi allowed in Game Four from a combination of Laz Diaz’s incompetence, Martín Pérez allowing inherited runners, and the need to go to Eovaldi in an unnatural role sway my selection. As Peter Gammons pointed out, there have only been 8 out of a possible 28 starts in the American League postseason where the starter has gone five innings or more, and Eovaldi has three of those.

Against three excellent offenses, Eovaldi allowed one, two, and three runs, respectively, helping to avoid a bullpen that is not a strength of the Red Sox. In his three starts against a murderer’s row of the Yankees, Rays, and Astros, Eovaldi has tallied two wins and struck out 19 batters in 15 2/3 innings while also adjusting his approach in the ALCS Game Two to pitch to contact once the Red Sox went out to an 8-0 lead. If the Red Sox want to have any chance to stay alive in 2021, Eovaldi will almost certainly need to give the team a fourth (near) quality start on two days of rest.

Jake Devereaux

I think the playoff MVP has been the guy who will be on the mound tonight with the season on the line—Nathan Eovaldi. Eovaldi was incredible vs the Yankees in the Wildcard Game and excellent vs the Rays in the ALDS. He then went out and pitched well against the Astros in game two of the ALCS in a win. If the Red Sox season is going to continue then Eovaldi is going to have to keep living up to his oft discussed contract. He’s good enough to do it and I think that Mr. MVP is going to do his best to force a Game Seven.