By Terry Cushman – @cushmanMLB
Dustin Pedroia is about to enter the fifth year of his eight year contract. It would be optimistic at best if he played out the entire life of it, and it’s safe to assume the most productive years of his career are behind him. Chipper Jones, Vladamir Guerrero, Trevor Hoffman, and Jim Thome are all getting the nod this week to be inducted into the next Hall of Fame class. So given the theme and spirit of this week, it’s ask ourselves if Dustin Pedroia, the defacto Captain, and current longest tenured member of the Boston Red Sox will ever be sent to Cooperstown?
Pedroia comes from a winning pedigree and undeniably has been the cornerstone of this dynasty. The Red Sox won two world championships with him at second base in 2007 and 2013, not to mention he is perhaps the best defensive second baseman to play at Fenway Park in our generation.
Most impressively of everything in his career, only four years after being selected in the second round of the 2004 amateur draft, Pedroia became the 2008 American League MVP at only 25 years old. Some players are lucky to be playing in the major leagues four years after being drafted, let alone dominating the league so quickly out of the gates. Despite only hitting 17 home runs and 83 RBI’s, Pedey lead the league in runs scored, hits, and doubles. His slash line was .326/.376./.493. As the Red Sox attempted to defend their previous season’s world championship, Pedroia was off the charts that October in the ALCS against the Tampa Bay Rays with a .346/.469/.731 slash line.
Following his magical 2008 season foward, Pedroia was perhaps the most visable and spirited Boston player on the field. Not only was his hard work on the field a great example for his teammates around him, he demanded the same in return from all of them. His intensity was not limited to on field, but off the field as well. In 2012 he famously called out his manager Bobby Valentine pubicly for inappropriate comments directed as his teammate, Kevin Youkilis. This set the stage for Valentine’s firing only five months later, which was followed up by a World Series championship the following season with the second dumbest Red Sox manager of all time, John Farrell.
At the end of every day, season, and career, the road to Cooperstown, New York strictly comes down to numbers. If it was measured by heart and soul, the long time Boston second baseman would be a first ballot hall of famer hands down.
Pedroia has always been a solid contact hitter in the batter’s box with enough pop in his bat to keep opposing pitching staffs honest. His career batting average currently sits at an even .300. His well above average on base percentage also sits at .366, with slugging percentage of .441. Those are solid numbers for a career that is about to enter it’s 12th season in the majors. Hard to believe it’s been 12 years already?
Where Pedroia likely falls short is that his power numbers in terms of home runs and RBI’s leave a lot to be desired. He has only mustered 140 home runs, mostly “lazer shots” into the monster seats, with 724 RBI’s tacked on. If you are looking for perspective, Giancarlo Stanton hit 59 home runs in 2017 alone, which is well over a third of Pedroia’s career total. Also to consider: Johnny Damon was on this year’s hall of fame ballot and had 235 home runs, and 1139 RBI’s to his credit. He won’t even sniff the doorstep to Cooperstown.
So is there a strong enough case to be made for Dustin Pedroia to be enshrined with an eventual induction? Unfortunately not. The Red Sox do not have a strong recent history of players who have gotten inducted. Pedro Martinez was the most recent, which obviously was a given. Curt Schilling is on the ballot, and will likely be joined by David Ortiz in a few short years. Both of whom are highly deserving despite their respective “baggage,” which will definitely present some obstacles.
Very few players in ever retire from this sport with two World Series rings, and an MVP honor to boot. Pedroia will certainly end up in the Red Sox hall of fame, as is customary with most MLB organizations. And very likely to the last Boston player to ever wear #15.
That’s a career you can hang your hat on.
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