Baseball's most irreplaceable players 

June, 27, 2010
6/27/10
7:57
AM ET

Getty ImagesDustin Pedroia is a dirt dog and among the most valuable players to contending squads this (or any other) year.
Dustin Pedroia will miss a lot of time with a broken foot, meaning that the Boston Red Sox will have to compete without their heart-and-soul guy. He's a great player, but he also is an emotional leader on whom others lean. I was chatting with old friend Peter Gammons on Saturday morning, and he ran through names of Red Sox players from the past with whom Pedroia's impact is comparable.

It's a very, very short list, and few players in the majors in 2010 are as important to the contending teams for which they play as Pedroia is to the Red Sox. Here's how I'd rank the top 15, with Pedroia in there somewhere:

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