Arizona State University coach Pat Murphy recalls the first time he met Dustin Pedroia, "He walked into my office in a cutoff-white t-shirt, his skin as white as the t-shirt, and he had the body of a sixth-grader."
Pedroia flexed his biceps and said, "Hey, coach, how do you like these guns?"
Pat Murphy's scouting reports on Pedroia had comments like, "He's a mouthy, cocky kid who's only about five foot six, but he can really play." And, "He really believes he's Babe Ruth."
In his first team meeting at ASU coach Pat Murphy was reminding the players that no individual was more important than the team. Pedroia interrupted the coaches speech to chime in with, "I got to be honest, coach, you're going to win a lot more games with me than without me."
Fastforward to 2007, Pedroia's first full season in the big show, the Red Sox won 97 games during the regular season. Having only won 87 games in 2006 and 95 games in 2005, could there be truth to the statement he made as a sixth-grade looking college freshmen?
After a rough start to his rookie season, where his batting average dipped as low as .158, Pedroia bounced back to finish with a .317 batting average, .990 fielding percentage, a World Series ring, and the American League Rookie of the Year honor.
However, more honorable than a ring or Rookie of the Year award was becoming, "The strongest 160-pound player in the league." A title which he had given himself, of course.
Room for improvement in his 2008 season seemed unimaginable, but doubt and skeptics are what motivates the pint sized trash talker. In his typical fashion Pedroia set out with a chip on his shoulder and the drive to prove everyone wrong. The outcome was a hat trick of prestigious awards, snagging a Gold Glove Award, Silver Slugger Award, and completing the cycle with being voted the American League's Most Valuable Player.
During a stint this season where the Sox were struggling with injured players and a stomach flu circulating through the club house, the sizzling hot Pedroia saw himself penciled into the clean-up spot of the order. Posting a .667 average by going 12 for 18 while protecting Big Papi, who no doubt eats sandwiches bigger than Pedroia, were one of the "Destroia's" amazing accomplishments this season.
Dustin finished the regular season leading the majors in hits and doubles while leading the American League in runs. He batted .326 with 17 zingers and 83 RBIs, while stealing 20 bases in 21 attempts.
Pedrioa became the fourth American League second baseman to win the award, the last was Nellie Fox, of the White Sox, in 1959. Joe Gordon and Charlie Gheringer round out that group of elite second baseman who have won the award. He was also the tenth member of the Red Sox to win a Most Valuable Player award, Mo Vaughn was the last in 1995.
The Most Valuable Pipsqueak secured 16 of the 28 first place votes, Minnesota Twins slugger Justin Morneau was the runner up with seven first place votes, and Boston teammate Kevin Youkilis finished third with a pair of first place votes of his own.