From the “News that Should Surprise Nobody Outside of Tampa” department comes word that Dustin Pedroia was named 2007 AL Rookie of the Year. Pedroia took home 24 of 28 first place ballots and placed second on the remaining 4 ballots.
After a slow April, Pedroia showed why the Red Sox front office considered Mark Loretta expendable following the 2006 season. From May through the end of the season, his monthly batting average dropped below .300 only once (.299 in July). It was the month of May where Pedroia’s batting skills really shown — perhaps more impressive than .415 batting average was his bat control. During the month of May, Pedroia swung and missed at a grand total of 4 pitches.1
Not to gush excessively, but the end of his year was also quite impressive in light of the fact that he was playing with a broken hamate bone since at least September 10th.
Beyond the statistics, Pedroia quickly became one of these players who’s generally considered a pain in the ass… unless plays for your favorite team, in which case he’s a gritty ballplayer. From all appearances, his teammates and coaches at least found humor in his attitude towards the game and his play.2
In addition to winning over his teammates, Pedroia’s play and outspoken attitude (and, to some degree, his short stature) won over the fans in Boston. By the end of the year, you’d be hard pressed to find anybody wasn’t preaching patience during his April struggles.
Although the Sox were in the hunt for the World Championship, the fans still managed to get a potential glimpse of the future in September and October, with Pedroia moving down to the 2-hole and another youngster, Jacoby Ellsbury, being installed as the leadoff hitter.3 Provided that Ellsbury’s not included in a blockbuster trade this off-season (the same can also be said for Clay Buchholz — apparently, both the Twins and Marlins would be interested if the Red Sox looked to deal for Johan Santana or Miguel Cabrera, respectively), he would have to be considered one of the front-runners for the 2008 award.4 While I was in Tampa, a friend and I were discussing the possibility that we could be watching what could become the Sox 1-2 combination for the next 10 years. It was a very tantalizing possibility.
- Eric Van’s data goes covers from May 3rd to June 2nd. Using the publicly available play-by-play data, I was able to see that he didn’t play on the 2nd and swung the bat 5 times on the 1st, resulting in 2 foul balls, a line out, and 2 ground outs.↩
- How do you tell the difference between a player like Pedroia and an all around schmuck? Well, if you knee your trainer in the groin, you’re probably a schmuck.↩
- During the World Series, I was hoping Ellsbury would take home the MVP. Not that I have a problem with Mike Lowell winning the award, but I thought it would’ve been pretty cool to see somebody win World Series MVP before being eligible to win the ROY award.↩
- Back-to-back ROY award winners would be impressive, but it wouldn’t come close to the Dodgers run in the early 90s — Dodgers’ rookies claimed the award 5 years running, from 1992-96.↩