Pedroia’s Power-up Continues


The Red Sox continued their dominance of the NL in 2010 (6-2) on Wednesday night with a convincing 6-2 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks. The win showcased Jon Lester in a strong 7 inning performance in which he allowed just 2 runs and struck out 7, while on offense, once again, the smallest man on the field jack a 2-run bomb to get the scoring going in the 1st inning. Pedroia’s power so far this season has unexpectedly impressive (even with a recent power-outage) and has sparked the club offensively on many occasions.

In a poll a week or so ago, the majority of you selected Kevin Youkilis to be the position player MVP of the Red Sox to this point in the season. Youk’s numbers are impressive and he has been performing at a high level most of the season, but my position player MVP would be Dustin Pedroia almost without question. The reasoning behind that decision roots in my feeling about the MVP award and will take a bit more to explain.

To win MVP you must be the difference maker on your ball club. The player’s numbers are important, but it is his overall play and leadership that make the biggest difference. I have preached my philosophy on team chemistry millions of times and in this case, it holds true. A team is only as good as the sum of all its parts working together and the leadership they are guided by on a daily basis. To be clear, by leadership I mean player leaders, not managers (sorry Tito). The MVP must be a player who either leads by example and is successful as a vocal leader on the team, meaning he is respected by his peers.

There are a few players that fall into that category, including Youk and Pedroia, so we need to break it down further. An MVP needs to be the guy who sparks a team when they need it the most and plays hard every day and on every play. It’s far beyond the stat column, even though that unfortunately ends up being the biggest determinate in the MLB decision making process. Every single swing, Pedroia is 100% invested and focused on making something happen and turning the lineup over. He knows the situation and looks to advance the Sox scoring chances every at-bat.

Finally, although stats should not be the only criteria to choose a team MVP, it clearly plays a role in the decision making process. Every year, we know Youk is going to jack 20+ homeruns and drive in close to or over 100 runs. He is a power hitter who plays great defense. Sometimes for me, it is the unexpected bonus from a player that makes him stand out in a particular year, hence my choice with Pedroia. His unexpected power has had a huge impact on the Sox this season and in games in which he hits a homerun, the Sox are 7-2. Of all the power hitters on the Sox, Pedroia is tied with Adrian Beltre for 3rd in total homeruns behind Papi and Youk (13 each).

What does all this actually mean? Nothing, except that I feel to earn the title of MVP, a player must have the characteristics of a leader, play hard all the time and of course have solid stats to back that up. There are other factors in my decision as well, including intangibles such as providing energy and spark to a team when they are struggling and just a raw grittiness required to motivate others in tough times. We are in June with more than half the season to go, making this even more irrelevant, but if Pedroia finishes 2010 with a career high in homeruns and rbis, he should get a look from even the stat driven MVP voters.