2007 Rookie of the Year Dustin Pedroia starts his second full season at second base in 2008. Pedroia endured a rough start and wound up with some very solid numbers. He hit .317 (10th in the AL), with an OBP of .380. By the end of the year, he was the Sox leadoff hitter.
He had a dreadful month of April, going 10 for 55 (.182), and slugging a pathetic .236. But after that, he was great. He hit .333 for the rest of the season. Of his 50 RBI for the season, 48 came after April. Of his 48 extra basehits, 45 came after April. He even had a good post-season, hitting .283 in the playoffs with 10 RBI in 14 games. Although he didn't walk much, he didn't strike out much either. In fact, he was the 2nd hardest man in the AL to strikeout, only doing so once every 12.4 ABs.
Pedroia's recovery from a slow start was what impressed me the most. He raised his average over .130 points, and his slugging by more than .100. He took all the pressure that comes with being a rookie and playing Boston; and turned it into a great season.
With Ellsbury and Youkilis probably starting the season at the top of the batting order, Pedroia will probably hit 7th. This should get him some mop-up RBI opportunities from the big bats.
I wouldn't mind seeing him hit 9th, either. Although this would reduce his total at-bats, it would mean he'd be hitting in front of Ellsbury, Youkilis, and Ortiz. This might lead to more overall production. Pedroia is more of a place-setter than a power-based RBI hitter. If he hits in front of guys like Lugo and Varitek at the bottom of the order, his offensive contributions may be wasted.
Once again, Pedroia will be backed up by Alex Cora. Cora only hit .246 last year, but that's not too bad for the backup middle-infielder. There was a stretch early in the year when he was unstoppable. He was 24 for 76 (.316) in April and May, with 13 RBI.
Cora probably won't get much playing time at second base, especially with the short-leash Julio Lugo will be getting at short-stop.
Hopefully, the Red Sox have found a long-term, productive second baseman. That's something they haven't had in a long, long time.