Defying the Odds – The Tale of Dustin Pedroia

From the moment he became a major league baseball player, Dustin Pedroia has been defying the odds. Many called him a bust. Many believed that due to his size, he could never cut it in the big leagues. Here we are fourteen years later. The long time second baseman for the Red Sox is taking a leave from the team. It was announced on Monday that Pedroia is going to take some time to figure things out.

Now, what does that mean? Have we seen the last of the Lasershow? Many fans believedefying the odds that he’s about to hang up his spikes and call it a career. Others think differently. It’s a tough situation for Pedroia, who has been the heart and soul of this team from the very beginning.

Defying the Odds Since Day One

Like many members of Red Sox Nation, we take notice when a new player gets called up to the big leagues. August 22nd 2006 was no different. Fans were wondering who this rookie infielder from Woodland, California was. All that they knew about him was that he was doing well enough in Pawtucket to get the call every player looks to get.

Pedroia isn’t your average infielder, but he won the heart of the Nation. He was a dirt dog on the field. Many dismissed him due to his size, but he made them think twice when he was at second base. From his sweet swing, to the flash of leather, Pedroia is the definition of dirt dog. There was something special about that kid from California. Since 2006, Red Sox Nation got to witness Dustin Pedroia’s career.

Pedroia never gave up the fight to be the best. From winning Rookie of the Year in 2007, to MVP in 2008, he was a complete player. A definite force in the clubhouse, Pedroia led the Red Sox to three World Series Championships. This last one, despite not being able to play, he was able to use his voice and lead. That is the reason why he is “Captain” material, and why he is respected in the clubhouse in Boston.

A Proven Leader In Boston

As mentioned, Pedroia is no doubt the heart and soul of the Red Sox. He has been part of this team for fourteen seasons. This also makes him the ultimate veteran player on the roster. Pedroia is one of the few that can say that they have been with the same organization throughout there career. Not many players can say that. Especially players who have been in the game as long as Pedroia has.

What Does the Future Hold For Pedroia?

“I’m at a point right now where I need some time.” – Dustin Pedroia.

Following the announcement that he is going to the 60 day injury list, the Red Sox held a press conference with Pedroia, Dave Dombrowski and Alex Cora. Pedroia, sporting a black shirt and a Red Sox cap, answered questions from the media. You can tell that he was fighting back emotions as questions were being asked. For a guy like Pedroia, who lives to compete, it’s tough to face reality.

With this leave of absence, maybe Pedroia will retire. It’s up to him and his family to determine what comes next. It hasn’t been an easy road for the 35 year old the past few seasons. For young fans, seeing a player who you’ve grown up watching every day retire, it’s a strange feeling. I only hope that when he does officially retire, the number 15 ends up in the right field rafters. Nobody should ever wear that number again.

The Tale of Two American League East Rookies

Over the course of the last month the Red Sox have called up two rookies. Two names will come to mind when the Red Sox play the Toronto Blue Jays this week. Michael Chavis and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. are having great rookie seasons so far since going up to their respective teams. The two American League East rookies look to battle it out over the course of this four game set.

Michael Chavis made his debut with Boston on April 20, 2019. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. madeamerican league east rookies his debut with Toronto on April 26, 2019. Since then, both men have made contributions for their teams. Now, they will put there skills to the test, as they compete face to face.

Michael Chavis – The Red Hot Rookie

Since his call up to Boston, Chavis has been the saving grace for the line up. The 23 year old infielder is batting .290 in 93 at bats. So far, he has slugged eight huge home runs with 22 RBI’s. Chavis has also proven himself with the glove as well. He has played all the infield positions except shortstop with the majority at second base. In 25 games, he has only committed two errors. Both errors occurred while at second base, a position he has had very little experience playing.

Regardless, he has been a huge help for the Red Sox. Chavis has proven that he is worthy of staying in Boston. At the rate he is going, there is no slowing him down. Many can even go as far as saying that he will win the Rookie of the Year Award. The last Red Sox player to win it? Second baseman Dustin Pedroia.

Can Vlad Jr Live Up To His Hype?

He wears the number 27 like his dad. His swing is similar to his dad’s. However, is it fair to compare him to his Hall of Fame father? No, it’s not. The day of his call up, Vlad Sr. posted a nice tribute to his son in anticipation of his debut. The message? Be your own person and player. This is something that Vlad Jr. has done so far.

At the age of 20, Vlad Jr. is hitting .235 with four home runs while driving in ten RBI’s. The young third baseman has only played in nineteen major league games so far this season, compare to Red Sox rookie Michael Chavis’ 25 games. All four of his long balls came in one week, and he became the youngest Blue Jay to hit his first major league home run at 20 years and 59 days. He also hit two home runs in one game at Oracle Park in San Francisco.

Will One of These American League East Rookies Win The 2019 Rookie of the Year?

It’s still early in the season, but the way they have been playing, one of them is bound to win the award. Granted, while Chavis has been a monster at the plate and on the field for Boston, Guerrero Jr. is heating up. Both of these young guns have promising careers ahead of them. They are the cream of the crop when it comes to the American League East Rookies. It’s only fair to say that they will have a successful first season in the big leagues.

Red Sox Rookies and Newcomers Carry The Team

The Red Sox rookies are posting some amazing debut numbers! Rookies Andrew Benintendi, Rafael Devers, and veteran newcomer Eduardo Nunez are tearing up the American League. The arrival of the first two concerned people who thought they came too soon. While many of the Red Sox are on the disabled list or slumping at the plate, these Red Sox rookies are on fire.

Andrew Benintendi came up late in the 2016 season straight from Portland. Hered sox rookies bypassed AAA and quickly proved that he belonged in the MLB. He hasn’t left since. Benintendi hit .295 in 34 games with the Red Sox in 2016, including a home run in the ALDS against the Indians. He earned a place in left field too with his above average defensive skills. He’s also on pace for a 20+ home run season and should received the Rookie of the Year Award.

Rafael Devers has only played fifteen games as of August 15rd but he’s hitting .339 in 64 plate appearances, nothing to shrug off. He also hit six home runs in those fifteen games. On August 13th, Devers hit a home run that came in at 102.8 miles per hour off Aroldis Chapman. According to Statcast, Devers hit the fastest pitch-turned-home run recorded since experts started tracking such statistics in 2008. That’s impressive for anyone. For a 20-year old rookie though? It’s nothing short of amazing.

Veterans Add Their Own Clout Alongside Red Sox Rookies

Eduardo Nunez, who came to the Red Sox from the San Francisco Giants, contributes years of skill to Red Sox offense. A 2016 All-Star, Nunez comes as a boon to the Red Sox. In 68 plate appearances as of August 14th, Nunez has a .382 average with four home runs.

The Red Sox won’t reach the playoffs because of regular players. Dustin Pedroia or Hanley Ramirez will play a role but not a big one. That accolade should go to the these newcomers and acquired veterans.

Benintendi Needs To Learn To Hit Southpaws

Andrew Benintendi, the rookie sensation, is having an outstanding year. He’s on pace to collect 20 or more home runs this season. His defense is incredible. And Red Sox Nation loves him. But there’s one issue plaguing the young rookie. Benintendi needs to learn how to hit against southpaws.

Benintendi has received his fair share of playing time this year, but John Farrell is reluctantbenintendi needs to bat him again left-handed pitchers. He is hitting .235 against lefties and .281 against righties as of July 19th. That’s an almost 50 point difference that would concern any manager. But it’s something that Benintendi needs to learn how to do. The problem is he’s not getting many chances. He’s had 278 at-bats against righties versus 51 against lefties.

Benintendi Needs To Learn How To Become More Well-Rounded

While baseball looks to Aaron Judge as the potential Rookie of the Year, there’s reason to believe his numbers won’t last. Should-be Hall of Famer Pete Rose said on Foxsports.com that Judge won’t finish the season above .300. “You can’t hit .300 and strike out 200 times,” Rose said on July 18th. Judge is on pace to collect over 200 strikeouts for the season. Rose said it’s nearly impossible to hit above .300 with that many strikeouts.

In other words, Judge’s average is only going to go down. However, if Benintendi learns how to hit against left-handed pitchers, his can only go up. Both hitters have much to learn as rookies obviously, but we’re already seeing a dip in Judge’s numbers. That’s why Benintendi needs to learn how to hit both left-handed and right-handed pitchers. Not only would his stats improve, but he’d become an even more valuable player to the Red Sox.

I’ll end it with the argument that Benintendi could win the Rookie of the Year award if he can learn how to hit against southpaws. Most people are arguing that Judge will run away with the award. They’re probably right. But that doesn’t mean Judge shouldn’t worry about Benintendi.

Too Much Pressure for Benintendi?

Andrew Benintendi broke in with the Red Sox late last season and quickly proved his worth. It was inevitable that he’d make it to Boston, but no one thought it would be so quick. The swiftness with which he rose through the minors concerned some whoBenintendi thought it was too fast. Fortunately, Benintendi proved them wrong. In 34 games in 2016 he hit .295 with fourteen extra base hits. He even hit a home run in the ALDS against Cleveland. While he is off to a strong start this season, some are asking the question, “Is Benintendi under too much pressure?”

It’s a valid question. After all, Benintendi is only 22-years old. He couldn’t even legally drink when he started his professional career. Playing everyday is a lot of pressure for anyone, let alone a rookie. Just ask Fred Lynn.

A few weeks ago I sat down with former Red Sox centerfielder Fred Lynn. As many of you remember, Lynn won the 1975 AL Rookie of the Year AND MVP awards, the only player ever to do so in the same year. He also won a Gold Glove and made an All-Star appearance, the first of nine. But he told me that he expected to do even better the following year. While he went on to collect a batting title in 1979, Lynn recalled some challenges that came along. “I was not a big guy and I thought maybe if I put on some weight or get some more muscle…,” Lynn told me. “But…the variable for me always was if I could stay healthy enough to do what I could do…that bar was set pretty high, and I didn’t mind that because I set my own bar pretty high.”

Benintendi set his own bar high too. Otherwise he wouldn’t be where he is today. However, that doesn’t mean that fans and writers alike aren’t setting it even higher.

With Benintendi Under Pressure, How’s He Adjusting?

Benintendi played the first and third games against Baltimore last weekend, but sat out the second. There was a southpaw on the mound in the second game, which didn’t bode well for Benintendi. But I think the other reason why John Farrell benched Benintendi was because Baltimore’s pitchers had figured out how to get him out. Twice Benintendi hit into a double play. While it happens to everyone, if you look at footage of Benintendi’s swing, he has a ways to go towards adjusting his swing to counter the way pitchers are going to throw to him. Pitchers and hitters trying to get the upper hand over each other is a never-ending battle. It’s even harder this day in age with all the access to footage players can review and study.

Seeing Benintendi under pressure is tough, but that’s baseball. If he’s smart, and I’m sure he is, he’ll learn how to adjust. Meanwhile, Farrell is smart to bench him against southpaws and insert someone like Josh Rutledge, who has his own potential.

 

Pedroia, Not Ortiz, is the Red Sox Backbone

David Ortiz received a tremendous amount of attention this season due to his retirement. A bridge bears his name, he’s a member of the 500 HR Club, and he’s a true humanitarian. Ortiz, however, has certainly overshadowed his teammates, specifically Dustin Pedroia. As the Red Sox Backbone, Pedroia, not Ortiz, is the team’s true leader.

Players like Pedroia are a rarity in baseball today. He’s a man who comes to the ballparkred sox backbone ready to play no matter what. He doesn’t hesitate to admonish other players. He plays with an intensity hardly seen in other ballplayers. That’s not to say other ballplayers don’t work hard or care about the game. The difference though is that Pedroia is ALWAYS in this frame of mind. Whether you see him on or off the field, or before or after a game, the man constantly focuses on winning.

Pedroia a beast. He won the 2007 AL Rookie of the Year and a World Series title. He won the AL MVP Award the following season and took home a Silver Slugger, and Gold Glove Award. The four-time All-Star, and four-time Gold Glove winner collected 201 hits this season. At the age of 33, when many players are seeing their abilities deteriorate, Pedroia’s are holding steady. It’s not just his accolades and numbers that make him such a good player though. It’s his ability to motivate his teammates that makes him the Red Sox backbone.

David Ortiz is a Red Sox Legend, But Pedroia is the Red Sox Backbone

Regardless of whether the Red Sox win the World Series this year, Pedroia is clearly on his way to achieving legendary status. While largely responsible for the Red Sox success, Pedroia contributes to the success of others, too. Red Sox rookie Andrew Benintendi currently lives with Pedroia, who couldn’t be a more perfect mentor. Pedroia is not afraid to have “Come to Jesus” meetings on the mound with Eduardo Rodriguez. When it comes to breaking records, it’s clear that Pedroia cares more about success than personal gain.

Pedroia Doesn’t Care About Records

When Pedroia came within a hair’s breath of tying MLB’s consecutive hits record this season (which is 12), the second baseman didn’t give it much attention. “I heard something, but I didn’t know what it was,” Pedroia told CBS Sports. “I was going to the bathroom, and I heard them say it on TV. I didn’t really catch what they were saying.” In fact, Pedroia doesn’t have much tolerance for trivial matters. When told that he had a 16-game hitting streak going, Pedroia didn’t care. “I don’t give a $#!t,” he told Boston Herald’s Jason Mastrodonato. “I’m just playing the game. That’s my job, to go out there and play and help us win games.”

Like Bobby Doerr before him, Pedroia brings a quiet but forceful intensity to the game. And like Doerr, there’s no doubt that Pedroia will one day get inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame where he will join other Red Sox legends, including David Ortiz.