He may be better known for his discipline at the plate, finishing second in the 2008 American League batting race with a .326 average, but Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia was recognized Thursday for his fielding skills with his first Rawlings Gold Glove honor. Paired on the right side of the infield with 2007 Gold Glove winner Kevin Youkilis, Pedroia appeared defensively in 157 games and made just six errors in 733 chances, one year after making the same number of errors in 625 total chances; he also collected 448 assists and helped turn 101 double plays. Pedroia, who is also a leading candidate for the 2008 AL Most Valuable Player Award, became just the second player in team history to win a Gold Glove at his position; the only other Red Sox second baseman to accomplish the feat was Doug Griffin in 1972. He is also the third Red Sox player to win a Gold Glove in the past four years; besides Youkilis taking home the honor last season playing error-free ball at first base, catcher Jason Varitek earned recognition for his efforts behind the plate in 2005.
Much like Youkilis, who transitioned from third to first in 2006, Pedroia moved from his natural position at shortstop, where he had been named as a first-team All-American by Baseball America playing for Arizona State in 2004, to second to fill Boston’s needs and the change has been near-seamless. Pedroia’s .992 fielding percentage in 2008 was second in the American League only to Oakland’s Mark Ellis and third best in team history behind Mark Loretta (.994, 2006) and Bobby Doerr (.993, 1948). He also became the first Red Sox second baseman since Doerr to finish with as few as six errors in 700 or more chances. At one point this season, Pedroia enjoyed a 61-game streak without making an error, 12 games shy of Doerr’s record 73 straight games at that position, also made in 1948. In the post-season, his defense continued to shine, playing error-free ball in all 11 games for Boston while making 35 assists and taking part in five double plays.