For both the Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals, second base is one of the first places they look for leadership and all-around excellence. Red Sox third-hole hitter Dustin Pedroia and Cardinals leadoff man Matt Carpenter are a pair of homegrown all-stars who could be keys to deciding who wins the 2013 World Series.
Only one second baseman has been the most valuable player in the World Series, and that was the New York Yankees’ Bobby Richardson in a losing cause in 1960 against the Pittsburgh Pirates. This October, there are two players capable of doubling the membership of the second base MVP club.
Pedroia, 30, was the American League rookie of the year for the 2007 World Series champion Red Sox. He was the AL’s most valuable player the next season and is a four-time all-star. This year, he hit .301 with a .372 on-base percentage and .415 slugging percentage with 42 doubles and 17 stolen bases.
Though the 5-foot-8 Pedroia has the more typical second-base build than the 6-3 Carpenter, St. Louis has found uncommon offense out of the position as well. Carpenter, a 27-year-old left-handed batter, led the National League with 126 runs, 199 hits and 55 doubles while hitting .318/.392/.481. He’s only 7 for 42 this postseason for a .166 batting average, but he had at least one hit in each of the last three games of the NL Championship Series, including a momentum-changing double on an 11-pitch at-bat against Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw.
Carpenter, who made his first all-star game this year, was a 13th-round pick of the Cardinals out of Texas Christian in 2009. Pedroia was Boston’s second-rounder in 2004 out of Arizona State. Each pennant winner also has a homegrown starter in center field — Jacoby Ellsbury for the Red Sox and Jon Jay for the Cardinals.
The World Series MVP list is littered with surprises that include catchers Gene Tenace, Rick Dempsey and Pat Borders; third basemen Ray Knight and Scott Brosius; and shortstops Bucky Dent and David Eckstein. Second basemen such as Steve Lombardozzi Sr. (a .412 batting average for the 1987 Minnesota Twins) have played key roles for championship teams, but Richardson stands alone as a World Series MVP at the position. If that changes this year, it wouldn’t surprise anyone.
Game 1, St. Louis at Boston, 8:07 p.m., Fox, WTEM (980 AM)
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