Greatest second baseman ever?
|08.31.08 at 9:22 am ET|
Okay, though Ozzie Guillen might be ready to confer that title on Dustin Pedroia, such a claim remains a bit of an exaggeration. Clearly, however, Guillen–the 1985 Rookie of the Year–has a soft spot in his heart for a player whose productivity defies his appearance. And Pedroia is doing just that, to the point where it is fair to ask what kind of historical standing his 2008 season enjoys. Pedroia is hitting .327 with 15 homers, 14 steals and 106 runs. That crowded stat line is rare for his position.
This list of second baseman who have hit .300 with 15 homers, 15 steals and 100 runs is both short and impressive: five Hall of Famers (Rogers Hornsby, Charlie Gehringer, Jackie Robinson, Joe Morgan, Ryne Sandberg), one likely Hall of Famer (Craig Biggio), one fringe Cooperstown candidate (Roberto Alomar) and a couple of perennial All-Stars (Alfonso Soriano, Chase Utley). Also noteworthy: presuming that he gets that steal and that his batting average doesn’t crater over the season’s final month, Pedroia will be younger (he turned 25 earlier this month) than any of those players when they achieved those four markers in a season.
This all comes as a shock to the scouts who considered Pedroia little more than a utility infielder of AAAA-player. Many who saw him at Arizona State dismissed him as a two-tool player, someone with a good glove who might hit for a passable average, but with no arm, no power and no speed. Even as he blitzed through the Red Sox minor-league system, scouts still had their doubts, as Pedroia’s Double-A manager recounts in this story: “There was a scout the other day in Baltimore, a guy who’s been doing it for a long time and saw (Pedroia) play in Triple-A, and had him in at best as a major-league backup who could not play shortstop. He had him as a utility guy.”
Now, Pedroia is finding ways to beat opponents in every phase of the game. He makes up for a lack of raw speed through great baserunning instincts; he hits for average; he hits for power; and his nightly diving plays have established him as one of the foremost defensive second baseman in the American League.
Claus posed a question, and I think it’s a good one: “Who else that looks like him does what he does?” Drop your thoughts either in the comments section or in an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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