2008 Projections: Dustin Pedroia

At the tender age of 23, Dustin Pedroia set an all-time rookie record for batting average among second basemen. Imagine what he could have done if he had not gotten off to a .182/.308/.236 April start, or if he had not been playing with a fractured hamate bone in his hand for a good deal of September and the playoffs. The reigning AL Rookie of the Year is one tough little guy.

This is a really fun prediction to look at, because Pedey is such a grinder. You just look at him and wonder how he did all that, putting up a .317/.380/.442 line in one of the toughest rookie environments in all of baseball. As far as tools go, he’s just doggedly stubborn at the plate, and when he swings, he gives it everything his 5′ 9″, 180 lb frame can muster. Yet this is a guy who basically managed to never hit under .300 in a minor league season (missed it in a partial season at Pawtucket in 2005 at age 21), who never let people tell him what he can’t do. Pedroia takes the same can-do attitude in the field, and despite average range and just solid glovework, works to improve himself all the time. He went through stretches where he was definitely a very good second baseman last season. Just ask Clay Buchholz, who should buy him drinks for life for saving his no hitter last fall.

Pedroia struck out just 42 times last season, the second fewest for any rookie with 500 ABs since 2000 (Juan Pierre had just 29 in 617 AB as a rookie in 2001). He’s got very good contact skills, and he battles every at-bat, seeing on average 3.80 pitches every time up. He also hit an amazing .351/.410/.502 at Fenway, helping to cement him as a fan favorite early in his career. 25 of his 39 doubles were hit here, either banged off of the Monster in left or down the right-field line. Pedroia uses the whole field when he bats, and doesn’t try to do too much with pitches. This makes him almost an ideal #2 hitter; only his speed is lacking, but he’s still a smart baserunner.

He’s turning 24 this year, and will be entering his prime years soon. I can see Pedey hitting right around .300 this season, while his OBP will probably come down just a bit. I don’t think there is any more power than what we’ve seen from him already, so I’ll predict something like: .300/.370/.425 with 35 doubles, 8-12 HR and 60 RBI. If he does bat second, he’s a decent candidate to score 100 runs this year.

Projection comps:

Marcels:	.303/.355/.437	9HR	48RBI	446AB
Bill James:	.300/.369/.436	9HR	57RBI	523AB
CHONE:		.299/.373/.432	8HR	58RBI	498AB

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