During his tenure as a member of the Boston Red Sox, second-baseman Dustin Pedroia has seen it all.
From winning the World Series and Rookie of the Year in 2007, to winning the MVP award in 2008, to the epic collapse of 2011, the abysmal 2012 season, and back to winning a World Series championship in 2013, Pedroia has always been the man at second for Boston.
Many players have come and went since Pedroia’s rookie season in 2007. Only three players who hoisted the World Series trophy in 2007, Pedroia, David Ortiz, and Clay Buchholz are still on the Red Sox roster.
Red Sox fans have experienced the highest of highs, and also the lowest of lows since then, but the small, gritty, and determined second-baseman has always been there.
Still, Pedroia has been a constant.
Now, as the Red Sox enter their new era, with many players being dealt and highly-touted prospects being called up, they will still look to the veteran Pedroia to be a leader, and guide the team back to glory.
Legendary Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, in his book “The Closer”, gave Pedroia the ultimate compliment. Rivera said that in a must-win situation, that he would choose Pedroia as his second-baseman, even over long-time teammate Robinson Cano.
Quite the statement given the history of the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry.
In an abysmal season for Boston, Pedroia has still continued to produce, hitting for a .285 average with 31 doubles and 45 RBI. He has played in 117 of the Red Sox 120 games so far.
Since his rookie season in 2007, Pedroia has never hit below a .288 average. A model of consistent hitting.
On the defensive side of the game, Pedroia has collected three Gold Glove awards. His first one came from his 2008 MVP season, then one from the 2011 season that saw Boston collapse in September, and then his most recent one came this past season in 2013, when he and the Red Sox returned to glory and won the World Series championship.
No matter the game, the score, or the circumstances, Pedroia has always contributed defensively.
Perhaps the award that defines Pedroia the most, the Heart and Hustle award, was given to him last season after he led Boston to their third championship in the past decade.
In Thursday’s 9-4 victory over the Houston Astros, Pedroia yet again proved how much he means to this team.
Trailing 4-0 in the fourth inning, Pedroia scored the first run to get the Red Sox on the board, and then was a key part of the seven-run outburst in the sixth inning, hitting a two-RBI double with the bases loaded to make the game 8-4.
Once again, Pedroia led the team with his clutch hitting, superb defense, and his overall hustle.
What may seem like a lost season to Pedroia and the Red Sox could be so much more.
As young talent is being brought up and evaluated, Pedroia, along with other fan favorite David Ortiz, will play the role of clubhouse leader, molding the upcoming prospects into what fans can only hope is a future World Series championship team.
Since his arrival in 2007, Boston Red Sox fans have grown accustomed to what makes Dustin Pedroia great, and it now seems like business as usual.
We have gotten used to him swinging at a ball that is head-high on his reported 5’7″ body, and driving it off, or even over, the Green Monster.
We tend not to even blink an eye anymore when he dives to his left for a ground ball, quickly pops up, and fires to first base for the out.
We acknowledge, but don’t look twice at the now-patented “Pedroia Hustle”, as he legs out a double from a would-be single, or gets from first to third on a routine single.
These are some of the many qualities that make Dustin Pedroia an elite second-baseman, even considered to be one of the best in the game, and the fact that we find these qualities to be commonplace now is just a testament to how consistently good Pedroia has been in a Red Sox uniform.
As the new era has begun in Boston, and old faces are being replaced by new ones, we will still look to the right-side of the infield and see Dustin Pedroia.