In the days leading to the ALDS, we’ll ask five people -- our four Red Sox pundits and one reader -- to answer five questions about this surprisingly successful Red Sox team.
Today's question: Who is the unsung hero of this Red Sox team?
• Gordon Edes: Stephen Drew
Drew When rookie Jose Iglesias opened the season at short red hot, batting .450 in the first week, it became fashionable to question why the Sox spent $9 million on Stephen Drew, who was coming off a serious ankle injury and a down season in 2012. That judgment grew louder when Drew, who missed much of spring training after a concussion, batted just .152 in his first 16 games and was still batting just .211 at the end of May.
But since then, despite another trip to the DL with a strained hamstring, Drew has been a dependable left-handed bat in the Sox lineup (.273/.340/.483/.824) and has performed at a high level defensively, committing just 8 errors all season. The credit has come grudgingly, but it is more than deserved.
• Joe McDonald: Daniel Nava
Nava Daniel Nava has played every outfield position. He’s played first base. He’s served as the DH when needed. For a guy who most thought would never make an impact in the majors, never mind in Boston, the 30-year-old role player hovered around .300 for the majority of the season, played more than 130 games and drove in more than 60 runs with double-digit homers. His .385 OBP ranked fifth in the American League. Nava fits perfectly into what the Red Sox need from a player like him and has a flare for the dramatic. He’s calm on and off the field and could prove crucial in the postseason.
• Tony Lee: Craig Breslow
Breslow The 2013 Red Sox were a relatively healthy team, with the exception of the back end of the bullpen, which lost two closers and a quality late-inning option in Andrew Miller. Koji Uehara's ability to embrace the closer’s role was massive, but the bridge to the back end was forced to endure a shockwave from all the movement.
Craig Breslow did all he could to solidify that bridge.
The clean-shaven, soft-spoken Breslow is as understated as anyone on the team. However, the one run he has allowed in his last 28 appearances spanning 25 2/3 innings speaks volumes about his value down the stretch. Breslow held opponents to a measly .568 OPS in high-leverage situations and his ERA in the eighth and ninth innings combined is 0.85. Also, Breslow’s ability to dominate righties (.581 OPS against) while still stifling lefties (.704) makes him a great option in virtually any situation.
• Kyle Brasseur: Mike Carp
Carp Acquired by the Red Sox from the Seattle Mariners for nearly nothing at the end of spring training, Carp has provided both valuable versatility and steady offense in a tough role for Boston this season. Playing in only 86 games, Carp produced career highs in batting average (.296) and on-base percentage (.362) as well as making a career low number of errors (2) split between first base and both corner outfield spots. A go-ahead grand slam in extra innings Sept. 11 against the Rays and the game-winning RBIs to clinch the AL East Sept. 20 against Toronto are nothing to scoff at either.
• Kevin W. from Glendale, Ariz.: Jonny Gomes
Gomes Gomes solidifies this team in terms of chemistry. The iconic muscles flexed, “Boston Strong” on second base symbolizes the season. He doesn’t complain about his limited role and he plays it well. His overall numbers aren’t great, but I feel very comfortable with him in the clutch and pinch-hit situations. Before he played for the Red Sox, I was always terrified of him -- it seemed he would always crush a ball when it was needed most.
Click HERE to submit your question for consideration for our #5for5 series the rest of the week.