For most Major Leaguers, a .296 batting average across an entire season would be considered a great season. Not for Dustin Pedroia. Pedroia's 2009 statistics fell below the second baseman's career splits, pacing him to what many within the Red Sox community have dubbed an "off year." Judging from Sunday's performance against the Yankees, Pedroia has put his 2009 "struggles" behind him and is ready to begin another MVP campaign.
Following an early exit from the playoffs in 2009, the Red Sox hosted the defending World Series Champions, and rival New York Yankees on Opening Night. In the season opener, Pedroia's true desire to return to the World Series showed. As he stepped to the plate in the bottom half of the seventh inning with the Red Sox trailing by two, he launched Chan Ho Park's offering over the left field wall for a two run homer to tie the game. Pedroia drove in an insurance run in the eighth inning, en route to the Red Sox 9-7 victory of the defending World Series Champions. Pedroia would end the night leading the league in RBI and tied for the league lead in HR, accounting for three of his team's final four runs.
In his first two seasons, Pedroia won individual awards (Rookie of the Year 2007, MVP 2008) following season's end. In 2009, Pedroia came up empty handed. But individual accolades are not what motivates the All Star. In Pedroia's inaugural season, he hoisted the Commissioner's Trophy as a World Series Champion, and there is nothing the second baseman wants more than to hold that trophy once again. Pedroia's approach on the field and desire to win a second ring are what thrust his name into the annual awards discussions.
While one game does not make a season, if Pedroia's Opening Night performance is any indication of the numbers he'll post in 2010, it is a virtual certainty that his name will be among the few considered for the MVP Award. But Pedroia won't be happy without a World Series championship.