Monday, November 12, 2007

Young was good, Pedroia was better

Delmon Young had the stats, but Dustin Pedroia had the better rookie year in the American League.

Young, the Tampa Bay Rays right fielder, hit .288 with 13 home runs and 93 RBI. He was first among American League rookies in RBIs, multi-hit games, hits, and outfield assists. He was second in doubles and extra base hits, third in home runs, fourth in batting average and runs, sixth in stolen bases and eighth in on-base percentage and slugging percentage.

And yet, the Baseball Writers Association of America voters, of which I am one, felt that was not enough, and here’s why. At least, here is what I thought:

Boston’s Pedroia played second base for a team fighting to win its first division title since 1995 in a city that demands nothing less. He batted leadoff for a stretch because shortstop Julio Lugo was awful at the top of the order.

Yes, Pedroia was surrounded by a hitters, but he still had to produce, and he did.
Think its easy batting leadoff for the Red Sox? I don’t.

Think it’s easy coming up as a rookie and walking into the pressure-cooker of a pennant race with the New York Yankees? I don’t.

Think its easy being a rookie for the Red Sox, period? I don’t.

Young had better numbers, but played in the relaxed atmosphere of a last-place team that is building for tomorrow or maybe the day after tomorrow. He goes 3-for-4 with a double, hurray. If not, no big deal.

Pedroia’s production counted today. TODAY! There are some seasoned-vets who can’t handle that pressure.

And that’s why I voted him first and Young second and Kansas City pitcher Brian Bannister third, which, as it turned out, was exactly how the voting fell.

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