Since Major League Baseball first presented the Rookie of the Year award in 1947, there have only been two second basemen who have played for the same team and won the Rookie of the Year and MVP award and a World Series title.
Jackie Robinson was Rookie of the Year in 1947, MVP in 1949 and won a World Series championship in 1955, all with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Dustin Pedroia (Woodland) was the American League Rookie of the Year in 2007 and A.L. MVP in 2008 and earned World Series rings in 2007 and 2013, all with the Boston Red Sox.
Robinson is in the Hall of Fame. So, is it too early to talk about Pedroia and the Hall of Fame?
There was a debate in the River Cats’ press box the other night on whether Pedroia has already done enough to warrant Hall of Fame entry or whether he needs to accomplish more to join the 19 second basemen whose busts reside in Cooperstown.
In addition to his accomplishments, Pedroia is a four-time All-Star, has three Gold Gloves, is a Silver Slugger winner, has finished in the top 10 of MVP voting three times and is a career .300 hitter. Robinson was a six-time All-Star, finished in the top 10 of MVP voting four times and hit .311 for his career. Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards were not given during Robinson’s career.
Worth noting as well, Pedroia has more home runs than eight Hall of Fame second basemen.
“Right now, all Pedroia needs is longevity,” River Cats radio broadcaster Johnny Doskow said. “From here on, he doesn’t have to do anything spectacular, just be consistent for the next five or six years.”
Other comments? They ranged from former Giant Jeff Kent has to be enshrined before Pedroia to what happens if Pedroia plays poorly for the next half-dozen seasons or if he should happen to get hurt this year and never plays again.
Even though there are a number of current second basemen who have put together very good statistical careers such as Philadelphia’s Chase Utley, Cincinnati’s Brandon Phillips, Detroit’s Ian Kinsler and Arizona’s Aaron Hill, the consensus among baseball experts is the two premier second basemen are Seattle’s Robinson Cano and Pedroia.
“If he doubles his production over the next eight to nine seasons, I think he gets in,” said Matt Lundgren, 29, the River Cats’ public relations and baseball operations assistant. “But as of right now, he’s not even the best second baseman in today’s game.”
Granted, if there were a vote today, Cano would likely win. However, after reading what retired New York Yankees closer and future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera had to say about the two, the vote might be swayed in Pedroia’s favor.
Rivera wrote in his book “The Closer” that he would take Pedroia as his top second baseman over Cano, his former teammate of nine seasons.
“Nobody plays harder, gives more, wants to win more,” wrote Rivera, who faced Pedroia for eight years in the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry. “He comes at you hard for 27 outs, every time. It’s a special thing to see, a little guy like that who is willing to do whatever it takes. If I have to win one game, I’d have a hard time taking anybody over Dustin Pedroia as my second baseman.”
The Red Sox recognized they had a gem in Pedroia by recently paying him like a Hall of Famer.
The Red Sox used the money they saved in the summer of 2012 – sending Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Adrian Gonzalez to the Los Angeles Dodgers – to sign Pedroia to an eight-year, $110 million contract extension last July. That keeps their franchise player in Beantown until a few months after his 38th birthday.
“He’s accomplished more in just nine seasons than some Hall of Fame-caliber players have throughout their careers,” River Cats media relations trainee Phil Bausk, 26, a New York native and Red Sox fan. “As the heart and soul for the two World Series teams, not to mention his individual accolades, he could retire tomorrow and have a résumé worthy of Cooperstown.”
• Cordova High School coach Guy Anderson, who won his 900th career game this season, will be honored today at Hagan Park from noon to 4 p.m. Anderson has coached the Lancers since 1970. Current and former players, friends and family and anyone associated with Cordova baseball are welcome. Hot dogs and sodas will be provided.
Mark McDermott is a freelance writer specializing in Sacramento-area baseball. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.