Dustin Pedroia: Resurgent Season

Plenty of members of the Red Sox organization have had turnaround seasons in 2016, but maybe none has been more important than Dustin Pedroia. Pedroia now serves as the catalyst for this team, with Mookie Betts moving to the clean-up spot for the near future. His importance in the infield as well as in the clubhouse have been well-documented, but his bat has also come back to life this season.

Since winning Rookie of the Year in 2007 and MVP in 2008, the narrative on Dustin Pedroia has Pedroia been the same: he is a guy who gives it all he has. He’ll play great defense (with his four Gold Gloves) and is a great leader off the field. However, he has been mainly inconsistent at the plate since then. On top of that, Pedroia’s career has been littered with injuries. He had major surgery in every season from 2010-2014. Also, he has had six major surgeries in the last nine seasons. The fact that he has stayed healthy has been the main reason why he has returned to his former success.

Pedroia’s Resurgence At The Plate

Since 2012, Pedroia has hit over .300 for an entire season once, when he hit .301 in 2013. 2013 was a good season for him, combining the .301 average with 42 doubles and 84 RBI. He also finished seventh in the MVP voting that year. Other than that, it is no secret that he has underperformed the past five seasons. When he’s healthy, he’s been productive and the Red Sox win. In 2013, he had those exemplary numbers in 160 games and the Red Sox won the World Series.

After that season, the numbers have not come quite as easily to Pedroia. In 2014 and 2015, Pedroia batted a subpar (by his standards) .278 and .291 respectively in a combined 228 games. In 2016, he has played in 121 of the Red Sox’s 125 games. Also, he has hit .305 with 55 RBI and 30 doubles this year. Although he said he hates batting leadoff, he sure has a weird way of showing it. In his 55 at-bats leading off this season, he is hitting a whopping .364 with four doubles and six RBI.

Pedroia has stepped up to do something some veterans would not. He is in a position he is not comfortable with (batting leadoff) and thriving. Because of his turnaround, like in seasons past, the Red Sox are finally winning again. Right now, the Red Sox are in a playoff position and the resurgence of Dustin Pedroia is a key reason why.

The Betts Case For MVP

Mookie Betts is in the midst of a career year in 2016, and he’s being rewarded for it. Betts was just named American League Player of the Month for July, raising a new question for Red Sox fans—can he win the American League MVP?

Betts has had a good year, sure, but is it enough to earn baseball’s most prestigiousBetts individual award? He has proven to be one of the most versatile players in all of baseball, and that only helps his case. For MLB’s best offense, Mookie has been the unquestioned catalyst. After a slow start, he has raised his average all the way to .311.

It has not been just his average that has impressed fans—Mookie has added another lethal power threat to an already potent Red Sox lineup. Even batting lead-off, Betts has 23 home runs and 74 RBI. Both those statistics are second on the team, only behind David Ortiz. He has combined hitting with above average power and exceptional fielding for a great MVP case.

The 2016 Difference For Betts

Betts has been exponentially better this year compared to last year when he finished in the top 20 for MVP voting. Last year, he did not even make the All-Star team and still got MVP votes. This year, Betts has become a staple in the “league leaders” lists. He ranks 2nd in the American League in hits and extra-base hits, 3rd in doubles, and 5th in batting average. Also, Betts is 4th in the American League in stolen bases, runs scored, and triples. He also leads the league in at-bats and total bases.

It has not just been his hitting that has improved, however. Betts is 3rd in the league among outfielders in fielding percentage (and 1st among right fielders in particular), and 3rd in outfield assists. On the base paths, he’s 4th in the league in stolen bases and stolen base percentage. In July, Betts hit .368 with 5 home runs and 15 RBI, being named AL Player of the Month.

A red-hot July and an already impressive August have definitely increased Mookie Betts’ stock in the MVP race. Personally, I think it’s Jose Altuve’s award to lose. He’s hitting almost .360 and has almost single-handedly led the Houston Astros near a playoff spot. If he stays hot and they get in the post-season, he has to win. However, the Mookie Betts case is clearly one that can not be ignored.