The first half of the 2009 season has introduced the Boston Red Sox to a wide array of surprises both good and bad. It's always important to evaluate a club's progress from opening day, and weigh the pros and cons as the season approaches the All-Star break.
On the mound, relief pitchers Takashi Saito and Ramon Ramirez, with a combined six wins and 2.25 ERA, smoothly incorporated themselves into easily the best bullpen in the game.
Fully-loaded long relief has been crucial, especially on Daisuke Matsuzaka's day in the rotation. Matsuzaka, still suffering from a World Baseball Classic hangover, sports a disastrous 1-4 record with a 7.55 ERA and 2.10 WHIP.
Jason Bay leads the Majors in RBI with 61, Kevin Youkilis has the third best average in the American League, and Jacoby Ellsbury is quite possibly exceeding expectations with a .306 average and 25 steals.
David "Dry Eyes" Ortiz, however, has struggled to hit .200, and 155 players in the league have outperformed his total of 4 home runs.
Maintaining his worth with eight wins, Tim Wakefield started the season as, gasp, the ace of the franchise, until Josh Beckett and Jon Lester returned to form. Still not returned to form, though, are the injured John Smoltz and Jed Lowrie and the day-to-day J.D. Drew and Rocco Baldelli.
Jason Varitek, with 10 homers already, has brought his bat to work this season power-wise. And recovered hip surgery patient Mike Lowell has been a gem offensively and defensively. Julio Lugo, on the other hand, has supplied little to no impact for the majority of the season.
Before slipping into a mind-boggled state, remember the format of the league. MLB teams generally endure roller-coaster-like seasons, because after all, 162 games is a lot of baseball, and seven months is a hefty chunk of the calendar year.
Injuries happen, as do slumps. Hitting streaks also happen, and so do steals of home plate.
Sure, it's possible that the Sox just happened to experience their share of surprises early on. But it's also possible that the proverbial hits will keep on coming, and the club will continue to be tested for resiliency and effectiveness. So far, their glass remains half-full, as they lead the AL race with 38 wins.
Will the glass still be half-full in October, or will it be bone-dry like Papi's peepers? Here are 10 predictions for the rest of the year.