Evaluating the starters: Second Base Dustin Pedroia

Dustin Pedroia plays baseball with as much passion and heart as anyone I have ever seen. He truly loves the game and is not playing just to make a lot of money. With that being said he is also one of the best second basemen in the league. He won the American League Rookie of the year in 2007, along with a world series title with the Sox that year. In 2008 he followed up his ROY award with an MVP award, and was selected to his first of three consecutive all star games. He also won the silver slugger award for second base in 2008, along with his first gold glove award. He is loved by the fans and has many different nicknames, my personal favorite being "The Muddy Chicken".
Last year with the Sox, Pedroia could be considered a bright spot in a season filled with darkness. While he did not have a career best in any offensive category he still had good numbers. He played in 141 games, had 563 at bats compiling an average of .290. He hit 15 home runs and drove in 65 runs. He was walked 48 times, while striking out only 60 times. Pedroias spot can change in the lineup often, he has hit lead off before but seems most comfortable hitting in 2nd or 3rd in the lineup. Last season his wins above replacement (WAR) was a high 4.6. Defensively Pedroia had an excellent year, starting 139 games at second base. He had 392 assists and 228 put outs. He had 625 total chances and only compiled 5 errors for a fielding percentage of .992. He was part of 100 double plays turned by the Sox last year.
While Pedroia had an excellent season last year it went for naught, this year we need to expect more from him, he has stepped up into a leadership role that was emptied when Varitek retired. While I am sure Pedrioa seeks no individual recognition it seems as if he is a captain of the team, even though he wears no C on his jersey. Offensively this year Pedroia needs to hit for a better average, I can see him hitting .310 or better, his career average is just below that number at a .303. Hitting for a better average may lower his home run total from last year but also should bring up both his runs scored and runs batted in. If Pedroia hits in the early part of the lineup and has the meat of the lineup hitting after him he needs to score more than 81 times, the amount of runs scored last year by Peedy.
The 2013 season will be a building year, while many fans would like to say that we could compete for the AL East, and Id love to think that too we also need to continue to build for years to come. Pedroia is a cornerstone for the Red Sox franchise and the team needs to build around him. I think its safe to say that he is probably the second most loved current player of Red Sox Nation behind David Ortiz. Pedrioa should be part of this team for a long time coming and it is important for him to produce this year they way that he did in his MVP season of 2008 or even in his great season of 2011. If Pedroia is producing in 2013 the team will be winning games.