Rather than continuing to hem and haw about whether John Lackey or Daniel Nava was the bigger first-half surprise, let’s just go with both.
Lackey can realistically be considered the Red Sox’ ace right now with Clay Buchholz sidelined. That’s not bad for a guy who was almost run out of town after a tumultuous first three years in Boston. Lackey, who posted an awful 6.41 ERA in 2011, missed all of 2012 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He looks better than ever this season, going 7-6 with a 2.78 ERA in 16 first-half starts, and he’s a huge reason why the Red Sox have remained in first place amid Buchholz’s injury and Jon Lester’s inconsistency.
Daniel Nava, meanwhile, has been a pleasant surprise on the offensive side of things. It wasn’t long ago that Nava was considered a Four-A player at best, but now, he’s one of the Red Sox’ most important players. Nava has 10 home runs, 52 RBIs, a .288 average and a .374 on-base percentage. More importantly, he has batted all over the lineup, and he has even added playing first base to his repertoire. Nava wasn’t named an All-Star, but he was in the discussion until the very end.