Aces, Awards, and Arbitrary Superlatives

There won’t be Red Sox baseball until Friday, which is kind of a bummer, but also not the worst thing in the world because going outside is occasionally rewarding.  Generally, during the All-Star break, people like to take stock of where their team is, so we’re going to do that too. Luckily, the Red Sox are in first and have played pretty well – especially well if you choose to ignore that last series in Tampa Bay. There’s been a noticeable lack of David Ortiz, two David Price vs. The Media beefs, and Mookie Betts is flying planes (?!) now. It’s been an enjoyable, albeit strange first half, so let’s hand out some overly-worded awards.

Best Game

There have been quite a few gems in the first half, so picking one was predictably difficult. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that watching exciting highlights is easy.

With that said, the winner, as is the case with most things, is Mookie Betts. On July 1st, Betts went 4-6 with two homers and eight RBIs. It was the second time in less than a calendar year that Betts had 8 RBI in a game, which is absurd.

If you wanted to give the award to Andrew Benintendi for his five-hit, two-homer, six-RBI game in Texas that was capped off with a highlight-reel catch in left, I wouldn’t stop you. But we’re an analytics-focused site, and 8 > 6 (by 2!) so Markus gets the award. Way to go Markus.

Runner-up: Andrew Benintendi vs. Texas

Worst Game

One of Pablo Sandoval’s probably. (ed. note: this is extremely likely.)

Best Pitching Performance 

Chris Sale, 4/20 (nice) vs. Toronto: 8 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 13 K, BB

Sale’s been as advertised, posting a 2.08 FIP over 18 starts so far. The following is a list of statistics that he’s posting career bests in this year:

H/9 – 6.6
BB/9 – 1.6
WHIP – 0.90
cFIP – 59

He’s also on pace to break 7 WARP for the first time in his career. He started the All-Star game for the AL, and barring some sort of disaster (please god no) he’s in line to win his first Cy Young. He’s only gone less than six innings once all year and has hit double-digit strikeouts in 10 of his 18 starts. Ironically enough, he registered a no-decision in that April 20th gem, so here’s the space to get angry about wins and losses again. It’s been a blast to watch Sale pitch every five days this year. Hopefully Joe Kelly gave him one of those ‘He’s the Ace’ shirts.

Runner-up: Drew Pomeranz

Worst Pitching Performance

Kyle Kendrick, 5/10 vs. MIL: 4.1 IP, 10 H, 6 ER, 2 K, BB

The Kyle Kendrick Spot Start Campaign came to a swift and painful end that night in Milwaukee, as Kendrick hasn’t been seen since. With Doug Fister being fine I guess and Eduardo Rodriguez ready to come back after the break, we’ve probably seen the last of Kendrick in a Red Sox uniform.

Runner-up: Rick Porcello.

Most Surprising Hitter 

Tzu-Wei Lin (!!)

This is admittedly what being a prisoner of the moment looks like, but sometimes being a prisoner of the moment is fun. In 15 games since being called up, Lin has hit .333/.435/.436 with a bunch of singles and two triples. While he’s never hit much in his time spent in the Red Sox system, he did look competent last year, hitting .302/.379/.419 over 48 games in Double-A Portland. His return to Earth is coming soon, but he’s been a fun story at 3rd base for the last two weeks, which is more than any other third baseman on the roster can claim.

Runner-up: Mitch Moreland and his broken toe.

Most Disappointing Hitter 

Chris Young.

For being a lefty-crusher, he sure isn’t crushing very many lefties. He’s hitting .245 against them this season, a 20-point decrease from his career average (.266). His 2017 wRC+ against lefties is 72. Seventy-two. He’s yet to take one deep, and has a .038 ISO against them this year. He hasn’t even been unlucky against them, either. Just kind of bad. He’s been especially bad at home against them, hitting .095 over 23 plate appearances. Luckily, the Red Sox outfield doesn’t necessarily need him to hit in order to keep winning, but after a great 2016, it’s been a bummer to see Young struggle.

Runner-up: The team’s power as a whole.

Best Home Run

Retire his number now.

Photo by Jasen Vinlove – USA TODAY Sports

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