This season, Red Sox Nation has lavished praise on numerous players, but the reemergence of Dustin Pedroia as an elite performer hasn’t received enough attention. Perhaps that’s due to the consistent, understated nature of his excellence, or perhaps its due to the success of younger players like Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts. However, the gritty second baseman is finally healthy and back to his best, which should excite fans throughout baseball, not just in Boston.
Last year, Pedroia was hobbled by hamstring injuries that limited him to just 93 games. Around the league, some experts began to question whether he’d lost a step on defense, and the future appeared more uncertain than ever for the cornerstone icon. Yet so far this season, Pedey has proved the doubters wrong. Through thirty-seven games, he’s hitting .299 with a .349 on-base percentage, 6 home runs and 20 RBI. While other players have gained greater recognition, Dustin Pedroia is still the linchpin of this Red Sox batting order. He still sets the tone for what has become an offensive juggernaut.
Even at 32-years old, you can make the case for Pedroia as one of baseball’s greatest second basemen. Sure, Jose Altuve is a phenomenon; Robinson Cano is historically good; and Daniel Murphy is having an inspired time with the bat. But Dustin Pedroia can still mix with the best of them. Right now, Fangraphs ranks him as the best defensive player at his position this season. That concept is affirmed when watching games, because Pedroia is still capable of sublime, ranging plays that take your breath away. While second base has become more of an offensive position, Pedroia’s bat still plays really well there, and he currently ranks seventh in Wins Above Replacement among second-sackers.
However, as Vin Scully once said, “Statistics are used much like a drunk uses a lamppost: for support, not illumination.” You cannot get an accurate read on the importance of Dustin Pedroia to the Red Sox merely by looking at reams of data. It’s important to watch the games, see his maximum effort, and appreciate the way he grind through every pitch on both sides of the ball. Dustin is a real leader, and he embodies the heart and soul of Boston baseball.
Dustin Pedroia Back to His Best
Pedroia’s competitive instinct is well documented. He never stops fighting, and isn’t content to walk off the field with a clean uniform. Dustin focuses on the minutiae perhaps more than any player in the game today, as demonstrated by his noticing a change in the delivery of David Price. Nowadays, baseball players can often get lazy. Exorbitant salaries can blunt the desire to win, as Red Sox Nation has discovered with many expensive flops. Overall, the game is played a bit more sloppily than it used to be, but Dustin Pedroia is a throwback to a bygone age of intense competition, and that can only have a positive impact on the Red Sox.
Right now, it’s still too early to tell what Boston may achieve this season. The Sox are fighting Baltimore for supremacy in the East, but modern baseball seems to be more unpredictable than ever before. Still, you get the feeling that this offense is capable of something truly special, and that postseason ball could return to Fenway Park this fall. Dustin Pedroia has already been a key figure in two World Series championships, and he’s definitely the kind of guy who can carry a team in October.
That may be a long way off, but there’s a certain magic in the air. Pedey is back to his elite level, and that is huge for a franchise that relies on his spirit as much as his talent.