Behold the Destroyah

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In keeping with its subject, I'll keep this post short and feisty. Dustin Pedroia is ascending to the heights of baseball stardom. He began the season hot, slumped in May, and now he's on an absolute tear. Little Man has a 152 OPS+ for the month of June, and even better numbers in July.

Most impressive to me is his slugging. Last year Pedroia hit 8 home runs and 29 doubles, slugging .442. This year he has (as of Sunday) 9 HR and 25 doubles, good for a .462 slugging percentage. The league average for second basemen is 4 homers, and Pedroia is on pace for about 16 longballs.

Unfortunately, with great power comes great responsibility impatience. Pedroia's walk rate is down from last season: this year he's walked 22 times in 401 plate appearances (5.5%), versus 47 BB in 581 PA in 2007 (8%). This is reflected in his on-base percentage; last year his OBP was .380, now it is .357.

Some more oddities. Pedroia has destroyed lefty pitching. His line in 91 PA is .349 / .407 / .590, with 4 of his 9 home-runs coming off southpaws. In addition, the Destroyah has surprising speed, having stolen 9 bases this season without being caught. Pedroia is third on the team in value over replacement player (25.6), heads above Lowell (20.4), Ortiz (14.2), and Ellsbury (12.5), and just ahead of Manny (24.4).

Considering his uptick in slugging and his great hitting, Pedroia is deserving of his All-Star selection. Ian Kinsler has better offensive stats, but a Lugonian number of errors (16 to Dustin's 5), so defense puts Pedroia over the top. Watching him wrack  up multi-hit games and drive in runs in clutch situations (Late & Close, 150 OPS+), he reminds me of Derek Jeter, albeit with better fielding.

So what's the prognosis on Pedroia? Is he the next Jeter, minus the models, $20 million salary, intangibility, fragrance deals? Is he the next David Eckstein, the lil' guy beloved of fans and sports writers? Is he Jeterstein, a towering personality in a tiny body, destined to be praised beyond measure? Speculate below and answer the poll.

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