Player Profile: Since the retirement of Jason Varitek after the 2011 season, no one is more deserving of the vacated “C” than Dustin Pedroia. Pedroia and David Ortiz are perhaps the two key pieces of the heart and soul of this Red Sox team. The scrappy second baseman came to Boston in the second round of the 2004 draft. Originally a shortstop, the right-handed hitter played college ball at Arizona State University, partnering with new Detroit Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler up the middle. The 5-foot-8 Pedroia is a former AL Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player and is as skilled in the field as he is at the plate, adding three Gold Gloves to his résumé as well.
2013 in Review: Pedroia underwent surgery in November to repair a torn UCL in his thumb, an injury which he sustained on opening day. Pedroia didn’t let the injury hinder him however, as he went on to hit .301 in 160 contests. It’s worth noting as well that despite his injury, Pedroia was the only Red Sox to play in more than 150 games en route to a World Series victory. Boston’s Brass rewarded the 30-year-old for his efforts by inking him to an 8-year extension, worth $110 million. Pedroia’s defensive prowess was celebrated once again, as he clinched both a Rawlings Gold Glove and the Wilson American League Defensive Player of the Year Award.
2014 Outlook: Having just signed a lucrative 8-year deal, Pedroia will be holding down second base for Boston for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately for the Red Sox farm hands, Pedroia now stands in the way of a handful of talented middle infield prospects, although few of them probably possess the upside of Pedroia. It will likely be more of the same out of Pedroia in 2014, albeit we may see an increase in some offensive categories as he kicks off 2014 injury free. Pedroia will either remain in the number three slot in the lineup or will transition into the second spot as the team attempts to replace Jacoby Ellsbury atop the lineup.