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Little Big Man David Eckstein Will Turn Padres Into World Series Champs!

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Little Big Man David Eckstein Will Turn Padres Into World Series Champs!
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

He is either the the Biggest Little Man or the Littlest Big Man on an unheralded, underrated and unpicked team , but no matter how you size him, he will turn the San Diego Padres into this season's World Series Champions.

You have to love everything about a guy who, at 5'7", 175 lb., has already spearheaded the championship runs of the Cardinals and the Angels and is set, at age 35, to do it once again.

The Padres, who many picked to be out of the running, are running away from the field and they are doing it with a squad of relative unknowns.  Only first baseman Adrian Gonzalez has true All-Star cred (they picked up Miguel Tejada after the Break) and other than that I dare you to name their starting nine.

Their pitching has been nothing less than stupendous...even the vaunted Giants staff has trouble with them. But, come on, who in the world would have predicted that Jon Garland, he of three previous teams, would be a winner again.  With Manager, and former Angels pitching coach Bud Black at the helm, they have learned how to win games with but a few runs, a stellar defense and a bunch of shut-down closers.

But, it is Eckstein who is the glue that holds these guys together.  He's gotta be. Even with Black's stewardship, there is no other rational answer to the team's success.

Drafted by Boston in '97, the middle infielder ended up on the Angels on waivers in 2000 in what is considered one of the best pick-ups ever. He hit.293 BA, 8 HR, 63 RBI, 21 SB, finishing 11th in MVP voting and served as a catalyst for the eventual champs in 2001. In what turned out to be a stupid move by the Angels, he fled to the Cards where he batted .294 with 8 HR, 61 RBI, 11 SB and as a short-armed shortstop, turned them into Champs as well.

Wherever Eckstein goes, winning follows. He has been voted by his peers as the player who does the most with the least, a backhanded compliment but one that serves him well. Give me nine Ecksteins who will scrap, bunt, steal, fly, scrape, run, hit, walk, bunt, even homer - whatever it takes - and I will beat your team again and again.

Eckstein reminds me of Kenny Lofton, who, wherever he went, he seemed to be on a post-season team. Nicknamed the X Factor and Just Enough, he is remarkably reliable, even more remarkably tough and no question the team's lucky charm (I mean he is a bit of a Leprechaun!)

While his average has dropped to ,279, he is perhaps the last person you want to face with the game on the line. He knows how to get his bat on the ball.  And, with that weird little throw to first which requires him to get his entire body into it, he has ZERO errors in the field and contributed to 49 double plays.

At a position (although he now plays 2B) that normally is held by the team's best athletes, how can you gauge the diminutive Eckstein.  It's gotta be his heart and that is something you can only see in the win/loss column.  When the post-season arises, I would hate to be the team that has to face an Eckstein-led squad, no-names or not, where heart and guile are the guiding principles.

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