NEW YORK — Here's a question that reveals why the Red Sox woke up 85-57 this morning and with a commanding lead in the American League East:
Who is their most valuable player?
You can make a pretty solid case for four players. Maybe even a few more. Consider:
Koji Uehara: The closer has helped the Red Sox overcome the loss of Joel Hanrahan and Andrew Bailey by having a landmark season. Uehara has a 1.14 earned run average and a 0.60 WHIP. He has averaged 12.36 strikeouts per nine innings.
Mariano Rivera's best ERA was 1.38 in 2005. His best WHIP was 0.66 in 2008 and his best K/9 was 10.9 in 1996.
Jacoby Ellsbury: He has a 5.5 WAR, a mark reflective of his all-around contributions. Ellsbury is hitting .299 with a .355 OBP and 52 steals. The power isn't there like it once was, but he has again become a dynamic offensive force.
Ellsbury may be motivated by free agency, but for whatever the reason, he's been close to his best for the last four months or so.
Dustin Pedroia: This season won't go down as his best offensively but his defense has been stellar. Pedroia has played 141 of the 142 games and embraced being a leader. This team was essentially built with players in his image.
David Ortiz: Big Papi is having a powerful season despite missing all of spring training recovering from his Achilles injury. Take away his on-base skills and power hitting and is this offense averaging 5.1 runs? No chance.
Others: There is no denying the two-way impact of Shane Victorino. ... John Lackey started the season as the No. 5 starter and pitched like an ace much of the season, his deceptive record aside. ... Where would Daniel Nava rank on your list? No worse than sixth or seventh perhaps. ... Jon Lester had a long slump. But in 13 starts after a loss, he has a 2.68 earned run average and the Sox have won 11 times.
Cast your vote in our poll and add your comment about who you believe the Red Sox MVP is this season.