Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Red Sox Evals Part III

This isn't going as quickly as I would like it to but at least it's actually happening. I've got, you know, homework and stuff like that to do. But I'm still finding some time to update this thing for the first time in a few months. Maybe it's just because this team has a lead I don't want it to lose, but I really want this Red Sox regular season to end now. They've labored through what has been a tough season, some key players are injured or need rest, the team needs the playoffs to begin. Or maybe I just need it to begin. Either way, it needs to happen.

Let's continue with the evals with a look at the Sox' second baseman.

#15 - Dustin Pedroia - 2B - 2007 salary: $380,000.
It became obvious at the end of the 2006 season that the Red Sox were going to go in a different direction for the future at the keystone corner than re-signing veteran Mark Loretta. As a high draft choice with great success in the minors, Dustin Pedroia came into spring training this year with the second base job his to lose. After an adequate spring, Pedroia came out hot at the very start of his career as a big league regular but quickly cooled off. On May 1, the diminutive Pedroia was hitting just .172 and Alex Cora was already starting to take away his at bats. Many, myself included, became convinced that Pedroia was uncomfortable and not ready for the big leagues, swinging at bat pitches and trying to pull everything.

Quickly thereafter, all phases of Pedroia's game came alive. With the season almost over, I think Pedroia is a shoe-in for AL Rookie of the Year. His .325 batting average is currently 6th-best in the AL and has only 38 strikeouts in 456 at bats. Pedroia's glovework has come around significantly from the start of the year, as his range and strong arm have resulted in many game-saving plays. By being attentive to the nuances of the game at this level, and not burying his head in the sand when he easily could have, Pedroia has established himself as a top-of-the-order presence on the best team in the majors.

As you can imagine, Dustin Pedroia is the type of player that I absolutely adore. The guy is definitely not blessed with extreme physical talents, yet he gets the most out of his body and potential through hard work and determination. He plays with a muted cockiness that most good players of his ilk possess. He is gifted with tremendous hand-eye coordination that will allow to one day become one of the league's best contact hitters if he isn't there already. Many people in baseball wonder if this season is a fluke for Pedroia, and some don't see him ever producing like he has this year again. I wholeheartedly believe that the best is yet to come for Pedroia, and I am looking forward to see what he does, and I also believe he will be a leader for this team going forward.

Next time I'll look at two key members of this year's rotation, Dice-K and Beckett.

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