When it comes to deciding the Most Valuable Player in each league in Major League Baseball, certain things come into play. Many of the sports writers from around the country who cast these votes have guidelines for whom and what makes a player the MVP.
Many believe the person has to be on a contending team throughout the season, and that player has to be able to carry them throughout certain periods of the long, 162-game marathon. Statistically, the player has to be near the top of every category, while playing enough games to warrant consideration.
Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia fits all of the criteria and more; yet surprises everyone by doing it. Listed at 5-foot-9, he has always been looked at as someone who couldn’t get it done in the big leagues. Even as early as last spring when he first made his MLB debut, people were calling for his replacement.
Come across Pedroia on the side streets of Lansdowne and you could easily mistake him for another short, balding 20-something. But with his newly acquired MVP trophy, along with his Gold Glove and Rookie of the Year awards, he stands out as a giant among men.
“I’m not the biggest guy in the world,” explained Pedroia. “I don’t have that many tools, if you saw me walking down the street; you wouldn’t think I’m a baseball player.”
But when he crosses the white lines, there isn’t another player in the league who is more prepared and gives as much effort as this rising star. In only his second full season, Pedroia has joined the elite, upper echelon players in the league.
He plays a tremendous second base, and is one of the most consistent, intelligent hitters in the game. According to Baseball-Reference.com, Pedroia committed just six errors, while batting .326 and striking out a mere 52 times.
Other players who were in consideration for the award included fellow teammate Kevin Youkilis, who had a tremendous year, winning the Hank Aaron award for best hitter in the American League; first baseman Justin Morneau of the Minnesota Twins; closer Francisco Rodriguez of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim; and left fielder Carlos Quentin of the Chicago White Sox.
Ultimately what separated Pedroia from the rest of the strong candidates was his ability to put the team on his shoulders and carry them through the tumultuous times of the season. When David Ortiz was injured and Manny Ramirez was on his way out of town, he slid down from his customary number two spot in the batting order to hit clean-up. His ability to hit anywhere in the order, coupled with his willingness to do so; make him incomparable in today’s game of professional baseball.
Not particularly known for his power, Pedroia hit over .500 during that 10-game span and single-handedly made sure the offense would not falter without Ortiz. All the while, he continued to play stellar defense, and did not miss a game doing it.
By winning the award he became the 10th player to win this prestigious piece of hardware in Red Sox history, joining the likes of Mo Vaughn, Ted Williams, and Carl Yastrzemski.
Looking at the season Pedroia had, combined with the success of the Red Sox, there really seemed to be no other option. Youkilis had a remarkable season, and probably would have won it any other year. Unfortunately for him, his teammate is the one player in the league that meant more to his team than any other.
Although he looks like he should be doing anything but playing second base for a professional baseball team, Pedroia now stands out as one of the brightest young players in the league. And if you don’t believe it, check out his trophy case, one in which he seems intent upon adding to in the coming years.