Much has been made of Dustin Pedroia‘s production of late, perhaps too much. But this past weekend’s Red Sox series with the Angels gives us an opportunity to spotlight some very real strengths of the de facto Red Sox captain.
Pedroia has been on a tear lately, going 20-for-55 (.364) over the past 15 days.
On Sunday he hit his club-best 30th double of the season giving him a 7th season with 30+ doubles, the most ever for a Red Sox second baseman and eclipsing the 6 such seasons by Red Sox great, Bobby Doerr.
Pedroia’s 7 seasons of 30+ doubles ties him with Dwight Evans and Dom DiMaggio for the 5th-most in Red Sox history. David Ortiz and Wade Boggs lead the club list with 9 such seasons. Carl Yastrzemski and Ted Williams are next with 8. Among all active players, Albert Pujols, Bobby Abreu, and Manny Ramirez have the most seasons of 30+ doubles (12 each). For all-time Stan Musial and Tris Speaker are the MLB leaders with 16 such seasons.
Pedroia is not only hard-working, he’s baseball smart. He showed it again Saturday with a heads-up baserunning play, stealing second and then third when he realized it was undefended. Pedroia became the first Red Sox in history to have two stolen bases on the same play.
Quick look back
The chart to the right shows some of his main offensive production since 2006 through where he’s projected to finish in 2014. Where you see a red dot, it represents the year of Pedroia’s maximum output in that category.
As you can see, Pedroia’s home run production and steals have been on a steady decline since peaking in 2011 with 21 home runs (or, basically, a HR in 13.2% of his games) and 26 steals. In the subsequent years his home run tally has been 15, 9, and is projected to be just 7 this season. Watching him today it’s hard to remember this was a player that had 20+ steals in four of his 9 seasons, most recently in 2012.
Pedroia’s OPS, a measure of a player’s ability to both get on base and hit for power, has also been on decline since a 2011 highpoint, falling in successive years from .861 to .797, .787, to .723 so far this season.
Meanwhile, his strikeouts in 2014 are projected to be near his career high in 2011 (85).
That said, Pedroia has proven himself a durable, highly skilled defender. His 114 games at second base is tied for the most such starts in baseball so far this season.
A three-time Gold Glove winner, Pedroia’s 1.8 defensive WAR rating is 8th-best in the American League this season (though even that’s down from the 2.3 and 2.2 dWARs he generated in 2011 and 2013, respectively). So far this season he’s amassed 331 assists (3rd-best in the AL). His 212 putouts are the 2nd-most by a second baseman in the American League (third most in the MLB).
More than numbers
Even at RSNStats, it’s clear that numbers don’t tell the whole story, as the Boston Herald’s Scott Lauber wrote recently. Pedroia’s “feel for the game and his instincts [are] unmatched by older and younger teammates alike,” Lauber wrote, calling what Pedey brings to the table “an intangible, unquantifiable quality.”
As Clay Buchholz says in the Lauber article, “There’s not a number that shows how much he means to any club that he’s a part of…He’s a spark plug in the dugout between innings,” recalling that even heading into the 19th inning early Sunday morning, Pedroia’s the guy who’s rallying the team to a win, adding “He’s a necessity for our team.”