Now that the postseason is upon us, it is time to hand out some team awards for the regular season:
Most Valuable Player- Victor Martinez - The July acquisition of Victor Martinez was the best by any team during this year's trading deadline. The team was struggling at the time and the offense definitely needed another bat. Enter Victor Martinez, who filled the biggest hole on the roster - starting catcher, and proved to be a power threat from both sides of the plate. Despite the fact that he doesn't have a great throwing arm, Victor Martinez, is a very good game manager, helping Clay Buchholz develop into a good starter. Also, pitchers such as Jon Lester didn't miss a beat when he caught them. To put it simply, Victor Martinez saved the season.
Most Valuable Pitcher - Jon Lester - The big lefty has supplanted Josh Beckett as the team ace with a 15-8 record and 3.41 ERA. After a rough start to the season, Lester's ERA's month by month were:
June - 1.85
August - 2.41
September - 2.52
An outstanding performance by this workhorse., who is still only 25 years old.
Least Valuable Player - Jason Varitek - See, I told you so. Last winter before the Red Sox re-signed him to a 1 year deal with a dual option, I outlined 25 numerical reasons why the Red Sox should not re-sign Jason Varitek. http://passpatterns.blogspot.com/2008/12/jason-varitek-by-numbers.html I was proven more correct than I thought I'd ever be - not only did Varitek bat .157 in the second half of the year, but his defense has become a serious liability. The Captain is not a major league caliber ballplayer anymore. It's over.
Least Valuable Pitcher - John Smoltz/Brad Penny - Daisuke Matsuzaka had this locked up, until he came back and redeemed himself with 4 strong starts and a 2.22 ERA in September. Former NL All Stars Smoltz and Penny were so abysmal for the Red Sox, they were released midseason.
Most Improved Player - Jacoby Ellsbury - 70 stolen bases, Gold Glove caliber defense, plus he's cured that hole in his swing and learned to work the count. What's not to like? While he was compared to Johnny Damon when he was drafted, I doubt he'll ever turn into the power and run producing threat that Damon is. But that's ok. Ellsbury is a fine, homegrown player and a valuable contributor to the Red Sox team.
Most Improved Pitcher - Clay Buchholz - Clay was a lost cause 12 months ago. However, he started the season at Pawtucket, pitched his way onto the Red Sox roster, and has emerged as the #3 starter. Buchholz really hit his stride and gained confidence when he went toe to toe with CC Sabathia, Justin Verlander, and Roy Halladay in three consecutive starts, holding his own against them. Not so coincidentally, young Clay's emergence came once Victor Martinez started catching him, instead of Jason Varitek. As long as Buchholz mixes his pitches and keeps his fastball down, he's going to have success.
Team Enigma - Player - Jed Lowrie - Why can't this guy stay healthy? He's a solid defender, can play multiple positions, and can hit a little, but he continues to be dogged by a bad wrist that keeps him on the shelf. The Sox really needed him back in the spring when Julio Lugo and Nick Green played the worst defensive shortstop seen in Boston in a long time. A year after his surgery, his wrist still isn't right.
Team Enigma - Pitcher - Manny Delcarmen - Manny Delcarmen's ERA in the second half of the season was 7.27 and he basically pitched himself off the postseason roster. For a pitcher with a live fastball and excellent stuff, Delcarmen remains a mystery; he's never matured into a pitcher you want on the mound in a close game.
Rookie of the Year - Daniel Bard - despite some recent struggles, the young fireballer has helped shore up an already strong bullpen. With Bard and Billy Wagner in front of closer Jonathan Papelbon, it really shortens the game. If Bard ever sharpens up his breaking ball, he's going to be unhittable.
Mr. Consistency - Jason Bay - every year, Jason Bay gets 30+ HR and 100+ RBI. This year was no different. I don't care that he only hit .267, the Boston Red Sox went as Jason Bay went. When he went into a slump, the team slumped. Unfortunately, Bay is a free agent at the end of the season. The Red Sox definitely need to re-sign him.
Comeback Player of the Year - Mike Lowell - After hip surgery, there was serious concern about what Lowell could bring to the team in 2009. While he definitely lost range in the field, and is among the slowest runners in all of baseball, Lowell's bat wasn't affected by his surgery. He batted a productive .290 with 17 HR and 75 RBI in 445 AB.
Weirdest Season - David Ortiz - He had 1 HR after two months and at one point was hitting .175. From June on, he hit 27 HR and drove in 81 runs. Very strange, indeed.
Welcome Back Award - Alex Gonzalez - Theo Epstein never should've let this slick fielding SS go after the 2006 season. His acquisition in August stabilized the infield defense, plus A Gone had some key hits and did well with the bat.