10 Players Who Are Keeping the Red Sox Afloat in the Pennant Race

Brian RoachCorrespondent IJune 21, 2012

10 Players Who Are Keeping the Red Sox Afloat in the Pennant Race

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    The Boston Red Sox are just three games out of a playoff spot and are really just barely in it thanks to great play from unusual suspects. Guys such as Will Middlebrooks, Daniel Nava and Scott Podsednik have really come through when the Red Sox have needed a player to have a big night at the plate.

    There have even been some regulars who have become really big bright spots for this team and have been what the team looks toward to get the job done, such as David Ortiz and Mike Aviles.

David Ortiz

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    The lone All-Star on this Boston Red Sox team, David Ortiz has really been the hottest player to step into the batter's box for the Red Sox since the first games in April.

    As of June 20, the 36-year-old is batting .313 with a team-leading 18 home runs and 49 RBI. He is just slugging away and no pitcher has really been able to cool him off too much. He leads the league in extra-base hits and he is hitting lefties at a record pace.

Scott Podsednik

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    Scott Podsednik was called up to be in center field until Jacoby Ellsbury came back from his injury, but ever since his return to the majors, he has been one of the best hitters in the majors.

    The 36-year-old is hitting .387 in 62 at-bats coupled with six stolen bases in seven tries. He may have only one homer, but that is not what the Red Sox needed him for this season.

    He may be on the 15-day DL with a groin injury, but he made his time at the big leagues eventful with great defense and the ability to get on base.

Daniel Nava

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    Daniel Nava has been dealing with a sore wrist lately, but is still one of the best defensive weapons the Boston Red Sox possess in the outfield.

    For a guy who did not get called up at all in 2011, Nava has yet to miss a beat. Along with his .333 batting average and 20 RBI, he has been able to throw runners out at the plate and make spectacular diving catches since his return to the majors in late-May.

Mike Aviles

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    Mike Aviles has been a bright spot both offensively and defensively as the starting shortstop for the Boston Red Sox.

    Aviles has only committed six errors in 324 chances with a .981 fielding percentage. He is also third on the team with nine home runs and second with 40 RBI all while batting .268.

    Jose Iglesias would have never been that productive at the plate, so this guy has been a very solid player in a tough position since day one.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia

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    The Boston Red Sox catcher has not been consistent this season, but staring in early-May he has been one of the best hitting catchers in all of the majors.

    The 27-year-old has really shown his worth with 13 homers and 34 RBI. He may only be hitting .263, but he has had some clutch homers and hits while at the dish. Plus, he is great behind the dish having to deal with the likes of Josh Beckett and Jon Lester.

Will Middlebrooks

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    Will Middlebrooks should be playing everyday.

    The rookie third baseman has hit seven round-trippers with 27 RBI and is still hitting .303 will limited playing time as the Boston Red Sox try to sell Kevin Youkilis to other ballclubs.

    He has not played too bad at third either, but the Red Sox are above .500 when he starts a game, so any chance to get him the nod is beneficial for the team.

Ryan Sweeney

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    Ryan Sweeney was Mr. Clutch early on in the season with a couple game-tying hits and by getting on base for a struggling offense since the start of the season.

    He is now dealing with a toe injury that has placed him on the 15-day DL. Before the injury, he was batting .292 with 17 doubles and making a plethora of diving catches in the outfield. It also doesn't hurt that his OBP is .330.

Felix Doubront

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    The young lefty Felix Doubront has been one of the best starting pitchers on the Boston Red Sox.

    Doubront is 8-3 with a 4.31 ERA, which is second on the team behind Josh Beckett at 4.14. He also leads the team with 85 strikeouts in less than 80 innings pitched. No one had any idea that this 24-year-old could get the job done like this and it has really helped the Sox to stay on the AL East race.

Scott Atchison

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    Scott Atchison needs to be in Kansas City for the All-Star game in July.

    The 36-year-old has been one of the best arms in all of baseball with a 1.24 ERA in 36 1/3 innings pitched while opposing batters hit just .200 off of him.

    Let's face it, since the early struggles for the bullpen, all the arms out there have been brilliant, but Atchison deserves an All-Star berth for everything he does for this bullpen. He can go anywhere from facing one batter to going two or more innings in an outing.

Alfredo Aceves

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    Alfredo Aceves was just thrust into the closer's roles and has done the best he can do without being a real closer before the 2012 season. He had only four career saves entering this season and has made it his job until Andrew Bailey returns in July.

    Aceves has 17 saves in 20 opportunities with a 4.67 ERA. Most of these runs came early on in the season when the 29-year-old was just getting used to the new role on an everyday basis. He has kept this Red Sox team alive with clutch performances in the ninth inning and even taking the ball an extra inning or two to save the other arms in the bullpen from wear and tear.