Dustin Pedroia has been a fan favorite of many Sox fans since he entered the big leagues. I, like many, have followed Pedroia through every single up and down thinking that he would always get up and become the man we know and love. But this time I am not so certain. Today I will chronicle the baseball career of Dustin Pedroia, and make a prediction of his future.
Before the Sox
High School Career
Pedroia was a multi-sport athlete at Woodland High School. He played football as a QB, thanks to an accurate and powerful throwing arm. His arm, of course, is one of his biggest baseball assets as well. Unfortunately for him, his football career ended in his freshman year, thanks to a hit from future All-Pro Linebacker Lance Briggs. His high school baseball year was thankfully much better. As a senior, he compiled a .445 batting average and didn’t strikeout once the WHOLE SEASON. This performance earned him the leagues MVP.
College Baseball Journey
Dustin chose to attend Arizona State University(ASU) for college baseball. He was teammates with future MLB players such as Andre Ethier and Ian Kinsler, the latter of which he competed for the shortstop job against. Pedroia won the job, and Kinsler was moved to second base before transferring to the University of Missouri. In his career at ASU he NEVER batted under .347 while starting all games. He even relinquished his last two years of his athletic scholarship in order to recruit better pitchers. This demonstrates his true competitive nature and team-first attitude that has yet to have left him. He was also named ASU On Deck Circle MVP, an award won by Barry Bonds as well years earlier.
Red Sox Life
He was drafted in the second round of the 2004 MLB draft by the Red Sox, and played his first couple years in the minors. In his first season in A ball, he had a great .347 average with three homers. He also had zero errors at the shortstop position. This earned him a promotion to AA, and then AAA in 2005. That season he batted .293 with 13 homeruns in 117 games, while being not as good but still solid defensively after starting to train at second base. In 2006 he continued to play in AAA Pawtucket, and even earned a callup thanks to a great season batting .305 with five homeruns.
Unfortunately he didn’t make his chance count with the senior Sox, as he batted a measly .191 in 31 games. Luckily, Mark Loretta would leave that summer in free agency, opening a starting spot at second base with the Red Sox. A spot that management decided Dustin should fill.
Pedroia’s Time in the Majors
The 2007 Season
Like 2006, in 2007 Dustin was thrusted into the starting lineup. But this time, he made the most of it. In his first full season he played a total of 139 games. Pedey batted .317, which was tenth in the American League, and racked up eight homers. He also had the fourth best fielding percentage for a second baseman in the AL, a sign of what was to come. His fielding was summed up in one simple play, making a diving grab which saved teammate Clay Buchholtz’s no hitter. His season was good enough to award him the AL ROY award, getting 24 of 28 first place votes. The season wasn’t just good for Pedroia, but for the whole team as well. Thanks to some occasional heroics from Dustin(among others), they fought their way to a World Series title. This was just the appetizer of what what to come.
The MVP Season of 2008
This is arguably his best season of his entire career, the one that put him on the map. Pedroia batted .326 with a then career high 17 HR, while also having the second best fielding percentage from second base. He even displayed a superb base running season he never matched, stealing 20 bases and only getting caught once. This 95.24% was the best stealing percentage in the AL, beating former college teammate Kinsler by almost three percent. All of this top notch play accumulated in an All-Star selection, AL MVP, Gold Glove, AND Silver Slugger awards! And for the stat-heads, Pedroia was second in the AL in WAR (somehow behind Nick Markakis). Unfortunately in the playoffs, whenever Pedroia struggled the team did good, and whenever Pedroia did good the team did bad. This resulted in them being eliminated in the ALCS.
Coming off an incredible season prior, it was almost impossible to get close to such a high. Therefore it was not too much of a surprise when Pedroia fell off a bit. But even a worse season for Pedroia was still a damn good season. He batted .296 with 15 homers en route to another All-Star appearance. Pedroia didn’t play in the actual All-Star game due to pregnancy complications with his wife Kelli. He also had another good defensive season, with the third highest fielding percentage among second basemen. The Red Sox got swept in the divisional series by the Angels, thus ending a solid 95 win season.
The Start of Injury Issues
Pedroia’s 2010 season was cut short due fouling a ball off of his foot, breaking it in the process. This shortened his season to a measly 75 games, during which he batted .288 with 12 HR. Despite not even playing half of the season, he still got voted into the All-Star game. The Red Sox struggled in his absence, failing to reach 90 wins on the season and missing the playoffs.
Pedroia bounced back in 2011, playing in 159 contests. He batted .307 and a still unbroken career high 21 homers. His 99% fielding percentage granted him a Gold Glove. Dustin’s play got him to 9th in MVP shares, yet he still got snubbed from an All-Star selection. That must have been partially because of another bad season for the Red Sox as a whole. The team finished with 90 wins, but once again missed out on the playoffs. But hey, at least it wasn’t the 2012 season.
In 2012, Pedroia was struck by another injury. He played through 141 games with a broken finger. In that time he batted .290 with 15 hr while also being named Wilson Defensive Player of The Year for second base. The Sox were horrible, winning 69 games(42.6 winning percentage). This was their worst win percentage since 1965. It was a mix of injuries, terrible starting pitching, and underperforming stars which doomed the team.
Pedroia once again played the 2013 season through an injury (thumb), which he hurt on opening day. But that didn’t stop Pedroia from having a great year. He batted .301 with just nine home runs, but another great defensive season. He won a Gold Glove, the Overall Wilson DPOY (which is given to the best defender in the whole AL), and the 2B Wilson DPOY. Dustin finished seventh in MVP shares and made the All-Star team for surprisingly the last time. His play catapulted the Red Sox back into the playoffs, and despite his offensive struggles they won the World Series once again.
The Calm Before the Storm
His last injury-less year occurred here in 2014, but was unfortunately his worst offensive performance. He batted just .278 with seven homers, and the same amount of stolen bases as his caught stealing. His defense continued to be his best attribute, earning him his fourth Gold Glove thanks to a 99.7% fielding percentage. This makes him the first Red Sox infielder to ever win four Gold Gloves. The team regressed heavily, winning only 71 games the year after winning the championship. They had no hitters who played at least 100 games hit over a .282 average on the year. Their starting pitching was trash, and their relievers were average at best. The next year wouldn’t be much better
The Streak Begins
Pedroia played just 91 games, batting .291 in 2015 due to a hamstring injury. The team was garbage again, winning 78 games as they started implementing youth, like Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts, to a higher degree. 2016 was Pedroia’s last great season, despite the start of his knee problems. His 15 homers were his best since 2012, and his .318 BA was his best since his MVP year. Dustin was awarded the second baseman DPOY award once again, and in David Ortiz’s last year they made the playoffs. They got swept in the first round, and Pedroia got the first of many knee surgeries at the beginning of the offseason.
The Quick Fall
While he had a solid .293 BA and seven homers, his season was filled with injury problems. He had a left wrist sprain on May 30th, then on August 1st he hit the DL with knee soreness. On the 12th of August he returned to the DL for the same reason. The Red Sox won the World Series in 2018, just without Pedroia. He attempted to rehab in Pawtucket throughout the season, and played three games hitting once before returning to DL. This year he played a total of six games hitting twice, before returning to injured list for….knee irritation. He took a break, and has been trying to rehab once again in the minors. But due to continued setbacks he played a total of 14 games, and on August 6th underwent another knee surgery.
Whenever Dustin has been asked if he would ever play again, his answer is always a truthful “I don’t know.” He has had at least three known surgeries on his knees, and has played less than ten games in the last two seasons combined. With the rise of Michael Chavis ,as well as the intriguing call-up Chris Owings, the Red Sox have multiple options for permanent replacements. I think he will try one more time next season to get back to the pros. One last time. He will rehab in the minors, and if that goes well he will rejoin the team next year.
That is the best case scenario. What I think is the most likely option is that he will try to rehab in the minors, only to encounter knee problems once again. He will most likely retire mid-season, and could be hired as a minor league coach or even a Red Sox major league coach straight from retirement. In around one year we could see Pedroia being the moral leader in the dugout once again. But this time, from the bench.