Sox All-Decade Team: Middle Infield
The Sox All-Decade Team continues with the middle infield. The second baseman and shortstop are the motor that keeps the defense going and combine to create a mean double-play combo. Although the two following players never played together, they both had outstanding performances over the past 10 years.
Dustin Pedroia, Second Base
Dustin Pedroia has been nothing but stellar since his MLB debut in 2006 and his first full season in 2007. Despite his only 3 years at second base for the Sox, he has become a beloved member of the Sox Nation. His scrappy play in the field and never-die attitude at the plate puts pressure on the opposition every single game.
Pedroia started slow in his first full year in the majors, but then proceeded to get hot and finish the season hitting .317. He walked away with the AL Rookie of the Year in 2007 and then, in typical Pedroia fashion, proceeded to have an even more impressive season in 2008 winning the AL MVP, Silver Slugger, and Gold Glove, as well as being selected for the All-Star game.
In his 3+ years in the majors, Pedroia has hit .307 with 42 HR’s and 212 RBI’s. He has also amassed 47 stolen bases out of 58 chances, despite not having a lot of speed, which is a an intangible Pedroia brings to the table. His fundamentals on defense are excellent, holding a career .990 fielding percentage at second base and shortstop (briefly). Pedroia is only at the beginning of his career and if he remains healthy and with the Red Sox, he may well be on the next Sox All-Decade team in 2020.
Honorable Mention: Todd Walker
Nomar Garciaparra, Shortstop
One of my saddest Red Sox memories was on July 31st, 2004 when Nomar Garciaparra was traded to the Chicago Cubs. Garciaparra was a true 5-tool player who excelled on offense and defense throughout his time in Boston, but most of all, it was his lovable personality that made him rise above the rest.
In 2000, Nomar began the decade in style with his second consecutive batting title after a season where he hit an impressive .372 with 21 HR’s and 96 RBI. Garciaparra’s average never reached that peak again, but he always hit near or over .300 with 20+ HR’s and around 100 RBI’s each season with the Sox.
Even though in retrospect trading away Garciaparra seemed like a smart choice (given his injury issues), the Sox have been unable to find a proper shortstop replacement for more than a season since 2004. No one has been sufficient to fill the shoes of such a Sox legend and now that the famous curse is over, there seems to be a Nomar curse on the shortstop position.
Honorable Mention: Orlando Cabrera