Koji Uehara deserves a pat on the back — or maybe a high five.
According to NESN.com voters, Uehara is “Boston’s Best Newcomer.” Uehara edged out Stephen Drew (62.75 percent to 37.25 percent) in the final round of the tournament, adding yet another honor to the reliever’s remarkable first season in Boston.
The Red Sox have enjoyed a fascinating turnaround after a dismal 2012 campaign, and the arrival of some key veterans is a big reason for their success. General manager Ben Cherington has pulled all of the right strings, and the current group looks poised to do some damage in the playoffs. While the Red sox have received contributions from up and down the roster, Uehara has been truly special. The 38-year-old thrived in a setup role early in the season, and then became a lights-out closer after both Joel Hanrahan and Andrew Bailey went down with injuries. In fact, Uehara has been arguably the best reliever in baseball this season.
Uehara, who is under contract for 2014 as well, finished the season with a 1.09 ERA and 0.57 WHIP in 74 1/3 innings over 73 appearances. He also averaged a career-high 12.2 strikeouts per nine innings, and posted a 11.22 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Uehara attacked hitters every time he stepped foot on the mound, and simply put, he was dominant.
Uehara’s personality also shined during his first season in Boston. It didn’t take long for him to become “one of the guys” in the Red Sox’ clubhouse, and his trademark high-fives were just a sample of the tremendous amount of energy and enthusiasm he provided on a daily basis.
Any of the Red Sox’ new faces could have earned the title of “Boston’s Best Newcomer,” as it has truly been a team effort. Uehara’s season has been something to behold, though, and Red Sox fans clearly recognize that.
Check out the complete “Boston’s Best Newcomer” results below.