|Pedroia takes home the MVP||11.18.08 at 12:27 pm ET|
So long, skeptics.
Dustin Pedroia has made a career of defying convention and expectation, and so it should come as no surprise that he continued to do so in being honored as the American League’s Most Valuable Player for 2008.
Pedroia became just the fifth player in baseball history to be named Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player in his first two seasons in the majors, joining Cal Ripken, Ryan Howard, Fred Lynn and Ichiro Suzuki (both Lynn and Suzuki garnered both awards in the same year).
He also became the first second baseman to win the A.L. MVP since Nellie Fox did so in 1959, and he is just the fourth second sacker in A.L. history and 10th overall to emerge with the award. Second base is the least-represented position in the history of the MVP award.
The Red Sox second baseman amazed with his power this year. A player whom Sox scouts thought might one day max out around 10 homers when they drafted him in the second round of the 2004 draft instead slammed 17 homers.
“He’s so little and hits so hard. How does that work?” reliever Manny Delcarmen mused this weekend. “Petey is five feet tall. He’s always had that little man’s syndrome, where he always felt like he had to work harder than everyone else to get where he’
s at, which he probably did.”
While Pedroia’s power numbers (17 homers and a league-leading 54 doubles) were startling, he does not fit the prototype of the power-hitting Most Valuable Player. Instead, his all-around contributions–the second highest batting average in the A.L. (.326), Gold Glove defense at second, the most runs in the league (118) and 20 stolen bases in 21 attempts, a .376 OBP and .493 slugging mark–defined his candidacy.
Pedroia was particularly brilliant down the stretch, hitting .374 with a 1.060 OPS in August, and then .326 with a .914 OPS in September. It was at that time that opposing managers started to sound a drumbeat of support for the diminutive second baseman’s MVP candidacy. Orioles skipper Dave Trembley defined Pedroia as the engine driving the Red Sox, the one player whom opponents could not allow to beat them, while White Sox skipper Ozzie Guillen spent a weekend at Fenway singing the praises of “a guy who just came from being on top of Big Brown.”
He was the seventh player ever to lead the A.L. in runs, hits and doubles in the same season, the first since Cal Ripken, Jr. in 1983, and became the third major league second basemen ever to tally 100 runs, 200 hits, 50 doubles and 20 steals in a season, joining Alfonso Soriano (2002) and Craig Biggio (1998).
Pedroia also established single-season Red Sox records by a second baseman for runs, hits, doubles, batting average, total bases and extra-base hits. That well-rounded production established him as the MVP, ahead of Twins first baseman Justin Morneau and Sox teammate Kevin Youkilis, who finished in third. (Full voting results are below.)
Pedroia is the first Red Sox to claim MVP honors since Mo Vaughn did so in 1995. This year marks the 11th time that a member of the Sox has claimed the award:
1912—Tris Speaker, CF*
1938—Jimmie Foxx, 1B
1946—Ted Williams, LF
1949—Ted Williams, LF
1958—Jackie Jensen, RF
1967—Carl Yastrzemski, LF
1975—Fred Lynn, CF
1978—Jim Rice, LF
1986—Roger Clemens, SP
1995—Mo Vaughn, 1B
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