Baseball Prospectus' Take:
"[His downturn in 2009 was] more an indication of how good he was in 2008 than anything else...He shed so little power...His strikeout/walk ratio jumped off the charts...Even ranking second among AL second basemen in UZR [Ultimate Zone Rating, a defensive statistic] for the second year in a row."
Not a whole lot to say here. The "scrappy little workhorse" is truly one of baseball's best talents. And it is not because he does the "little things" well and "gets his uniform dirty". It is because he provides decent power and a great batting eye from an up the middle position while also providing very good defense. That is what makes him an All Star. Not his height and not how much the club house guys dislike him for making them work extra harder to get his Boston whites clean.
But what is best about Dusty is what he means to the team: barring injury, for the next five plus years, the Red Sox do not have to worry about finding an above average second baseman.
You might wonder what is so special and difficult about finding an above average second baseman, especially with all the money the Sox have in their coffers. Which will cause me to respond (because I am in your head): how's that worked out at short stop? All that really sets a short stop apart from a second baseman is a little extra range and arm strength. Otherwise they are pretty much apples and oranges (that's right, apples and oranges are WICKED similar: round, fruit, skin on the outside, edible, orange and red aren't that different; think about this next time you compare two things that are very different and say it's like comparing apples and oranges).
The Sox have not had even an average short stop since the last two months of 2004 with Orlando Cabrera. That is 5 full seasons with below average production at a premium position. You can win with a shitty short stop, but you are making it much harder on yourself to do so. It is much easier to fill out a roster with talented first basemen and left fielders than short stops, second basemen, and catchers. Therefore, having a strong group up the middle allows teams to pick and choose from a greater talent pool when filling out the rest of the roster in the offseason.
So in closing this post, I want to thank Mr. Pedroia for what he has done for this team. While your diminutive stature is enduring and adorable and your giant swing makes crusty old New Englanders grin, it is the stability you bring to a premium position that makes you a true hero to the Nation.