The Boston Globe reported Wednesday that the Red Sox are planning to activate second baseman Ian Kinsler for tonight’s game against the Rays. It’s a move that, on the surface, doesn’t come as particularly surprising or thought-provoking. After all, Kinsler’s injury was deemed minor when he was placed on the 10-Day DL with a hamstring injury on August 4th.
However, it’s not particularly hard to see why Kinsler is on this Red Sox roster in the first place, or why his return to the lineup is newsworthy. In case you’ve forgotten, Boston has another former All-Star second baseman on this roster, also idling on the disabled list.
Dustin Pedroia has only played three games this season. He’s been sidelined by the same knee injury that limited him to only 105 games last year. He also won’t play again in 2018. But as teammates Mookie Betts and JD Martinez duke it out down the stretch for the AL MVP award, it’s worth remembering that this is the 10 year anniversary of Pedroia’s own MVP season. And what a season that was.
Pedroia followed up his 2007 AL Rookie of the Year campaign by improving in nearly every countable metric. He slashed .326/.376/.493, with an OPS+ of 123. He only hit 17 HRs (second fewest by any non-pitcher MVP this millennium), but he also led the league in runs (118), hits (213), and doubles (54). Pedroia’s 6.3 fWAR was good for second in the AL, only trailing future Red Sox legend Grady Sizemore‘s 7.4 mark. Pedey was especially lethal at Fenway Park (.344/.393/.519/), and somehow managed to hit .298 in two-strike counts. As if that wasn’t enough, he also stole 20 bases in 21 attempts (a 95% success rate).
Pedroia’s MVP case was buoyed by his performance in the clutch. In “Late & Close” situations (7th inning or later, batting team leading by one run, tied, or has the potential tying run on base, at bat, or on deck), he hit .368/.419/.526. In “High Leverage” situations, he had an OPS of 1.007 across 112 plate appearances.
The Woodland, CA native also shone brightest against the best competition. Granted, his .291/.348/.445 slash line against sub-.500 teams was far from mediocre. But against teams .500 or better, Pedroia took it to another level. His .348 BA led all Red Sox regulars. He also had 47 of his 73 extra base hits against winning clubs.
Throw in a Gold Glove award and a Silver Slugger, and it’s no surprise why Pedroia won MVP. He even overcame having fewer HR and RBI than Minnesota’s Justin Morneau, or a lower OPS than teammate Kevin Youkilis. The guy earned it.
Of course, what would an MVP season be without a highlight reel? Pedey certainly made plenty of big time plays in 2008. Thanks to the power of the internet, we have the ability to re-live many of them…
…or at least we should. Unfortunately, 10 years is a decade in internet time too. It turns out it’s not so easy to find random clips of regular season baseball from 2008. MLB.com’s video vault has plethora of inactive links that pop up when you search “Pedroia 2008”, which is none too helpful. A random YouTube user took the time to upload a semi-suspicious amount of videos from that season in glorious 144p quality, which is only slightly less useless.
Maybe the best highlight to come out of 2008? Pedroia’s MLB the Show 09 commercial. It is, in a word, iconic:
It’s unclear when (or if) we’ll ever see Pedroia man second base in a Red Sox uniform again. But there’s no denying that he’s a Red Sox great, and his masterful 2008 campaign is one major reason why. With the Sox poised to crown another MVP this fall, let’s not forget to show The Laser Show a little love.