The Boston Red Sox offense is humming along like a well-oiled machine largely thanks to Big Papi’s last hurrah, a few kids who are blossoming right in front of our eyes, and a veteran who everyone seems to have forgotten. Rick Rowand writes about the overlooked Red Sox second baseman, Dustin Pedroia, who is putting together one of his best seasons in some time, yet getting little recognition.
Amidst the well-deserved accolades that have been heaped upon the Killer B’s, the revolving door in left field and behind the plate, the better than expected play of Travis Shaw at third, the surprise at how well Hanley Ramirez has adapted defensively at first base, the godlike season that Ortiz is having in his final year, and the unsteadiness of the pitching staff there seems to be one player that people aren’t really talking about.
The player who lives and breathes baseball. One of a handful of players who would quote Rogers Hornsby if you asked him what he does in the offseason and actually mean it*. The heart and soul of the franchise. The guy who in 2010 was taking grounders on his knees with a boot on to protect the broken bone in his foot. He has won the 2007 AL Rookie of the Year, four Gold Gloves, the 2008 AL MVP award, a Silver Slugger Award, two World Series rings, and is a six-time nominee and 2013 winner of the MLBPAA Heart and Hustle Award: Dustin Pedroia – the forgotten man.
This past winter, instead of gazing out the window and waiting for spring, Pedroia spent his time working out and taking off weight to help him regain some of the quickness that he’d lost after reaching 30-years-old. So far all that time and energy has paid off. He’s played in 85 out of 87 games (maybe the most important factor as he’s battled injuries the past few years) and hit .304/.368/438 with eight home runs and 21 doubles. He’s also raised his walk rate from 8.9% last year to 9.3%, the highest it’s been since 2013. His K rate is pretty stable at 11.9%; it was 12.0% and 12.3% the past two seasons.
So what is different? A couple of things stand out. He’s hitting more line drives than he has been in recent seasons. Pedroia’s LD rate is 23.7%, the second highest of his career, second only to the 23.9% LD rate he put up in 2014. Line drives fall for base hits more often than fly balls and groundballs. The other thing he’s doing is hitting the ball to the opposite field at the highest rate of his career (34.4%). His career average is 25.4% with a previous high of 30.1% in 2010. “Hit ‘em where they ‘ain’t!”
While all eyes are on Ortiz and the Killer B’s, as they should be, let’s not forget about Pedroia. In short (sorry), Pedroia is quietly having one of the best offensive seasons of his career, while remaining one of the better defensive second basemen in the league. He should be recognized for that or the next place you’ll see his picture in public is on the side of a milk carton.
*“I stare out the window and wait for Spring.”