Everyone is making a big deal out of the fact that Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia is only the second second baseman in nearly half a century to be an MVP.
But how many players win an MVP while hitting just 19 home runs (other than a pitcher, of course)? Not that I am saying that Pedroia didn’t deserve the award. Hardly. I am pretty sure he would have been my first ballot selection if Major League Baseball allowed bloggers who intermittently write about baseball to vote instead of some not so bright Texas sportswriter. (At least the guy had the grace to publicly eat some crow.)
Pedroia is the type of old school player I loved to watch in my youth. Players like Larry Bowa or Roberto Clemente who would not have gotten as much attention in the until recently ended steroid era. With home run numbers having come back down to earth because it is harder to do steroids– and probably for other reasons as well, among them recent crops of good young pitching arms– players like Pedroia are as much, hopefully, the wave of the future instead of just a reminder for baseball of another era.
Besides hitting just 19 home runs, Pedroia also just batted .326. But this year that was still second in the league only to Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer (.328 B.A.).
So what else did Pedroia do except just being edged out as having the league’s highest batting average? He hit 54 doubles. He scored 118 runs. He won the gold glove at second base. He stole 20 bases– which is not that high a number. But he was only caught stealing once. Not only fans but baseball writers and even baseball GMs probably don’t consider the statistic of how many steals in comparison to how many times a player is caught stealing.
Would you rather have a player like Pedroia who stole 20 out of 21 or one who had stolen 39 bases but caught 16 times? Players like Jimmy Rollins and Carlos Beltran are perhaps slightly underrated because they steal a moderate number of bases but hardly ever get caught.
The selection of Dustin Pedroia hopefully is a symbol that the steroid era of baseball is over. No more 60 plus home run and even 70 plus home run seasons by players who cheated and one– like Barry Bonds who is under indictment for allegedly committing perjury for lying to a federal grand jury about his steroid use.
We can now enjoy the finesse and fudamentals and small things about baseball– the bunt single, the play made by the short stop deep in the hole– instead of just over sized home runs by players with over sized heads.
And maybe next year… for Joe Mauer!