Second Base – Dustin Pedroia
Dustin Pedroia was easy to root for early in his career. He was an underdog who many considered to be too undersized to make it in the big leagues but he proved his doubters wrong with sheer grit and determination.
He struggled mightily in his brief major league debut but the Red Sox showed faith in his potential by sticking with him through the rough patch. Pedroia rewarded them with a Rookie of the Year campaign in 2007 and his emergence helped lead to a World Series championship that season.
For an encore, Pedroia followed with the best year of his career in 2008. He hit .326/.376/.493 with 17 home runs, 83 RBI and 20 stolen bases. He led the league with 213 hits, 54 doubles, and 118 runs scored. Pedroia earned the AL MVP award while adding his first Silver Slugger and Gold Glove.
While he never quite reached that level again, Pedroia has made four All-Star appearances and added three more Gold Gloves. His last All-Star appearance was in 2013 when he won his second World Series ring.
Pedroia’s career has been spoiled by injuries limiting him to only nine games over the last two seasons. He was on the 2018 World Series team but barely played that year and wasn’t on the postseason roster.
His leadership skills were called into question in recent years when the burden was unfairly placed on him by default. Combine that with his inability to stay on the field and Pedroia’s popularity has reached a low point.
The hobbled veteran isn’t the version I’ll remember though. The gritty underdog who fought harder than anyone to earn his place and developed into an unexpected star is the version that sticks with me. Pedroia’s No. 15 jersey still hangs in my closet and I’ll proudly wear it again.