Dustin Pedroia no longer the standard bearer at second base in the AL
Dustin Pedroia has registered six hits in his last two contests, both wins for the Boston Red Sox. While the offensive outburst is certainly encouraging for fans of the struggling franchise, it likely won’t move the needle on his All-Star candidacy for 2014. The four-time All-Star second baseman has had an underwhelming campaign, slashing .275/.345/.383, well below his career marks of .300/.368/.448.
After finishing seventh in the American League MVP vote last year, the Laser Show will not be a featured entertainer at Target Field on July 15th.
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Former New York Yankee Robinson Cano, himself a perennial All-Star and Pedroia’s main competition for the distinction of “best” at the position, leads the voting, which closes on July 3rd, with nearly 2.5 million votes, while Pedroia has tallied shy of 1.5 million. Detroit’s Ian Kinsler, also in his first year in a new home, also leads Pedroia with more than 1.6 million votes and looks to have punched his ticket as a reserve based on his all-around performance (.307/.342/.488).
Interestingly, Cano, the new inhabitant of Safeco Field, has experienced a similar dropoff to Pedroia, as his slugging percentage has fallen over 80 points from last year’s total and plummeted nearly 120 points from his career-high two seasons ago. Seattle was likely banking on more when they signed him to a 10-year, $240 million pact, but the resurgent Mariners have been buoyed by his .319 batting average. Cano’s overwhelming brand recognition also helps make him a shoo-in for the Midsummer Classic.
Pedroia’s disappearance from the All-Star roster wouldn’t be so disappointing if he had been simply outplayed by Cano and Kinsler. Hitting in the 3-hole for one of 2013’s best-hitting teams, Pedroia’s production has flickered, and so have the Red Sox, who have tumbled along epic benders of wins and losses and still remain six games under .500 at the halfway point of the season. Granted, Jacoby Ellsbury is gone from the top of the order and last year’s 2-hole occupant, Shane Victorino, has only mustered 91 at-bats. But that is why Pedroia is needed more than ever. He’s being paid superstar money (the eight-year, $110 million extension he signed last July is inescapable subject matter when he’s struggling, no matter how “team-friendly” it is) and simply hasn’t been a superstar.
The veteran is a stand-up guy, so you won’t hear any excuses or complaints. He underwent offseason surgery for a thumb injury that sapped his power in 2013; perhaps an April wrist injury dogged his recovery? Either way, he’ll continue to play hard every night.
Hopefully, Pedroia’s recent outburst is a harbinger of two- and three-hit games to come, with a little bit of pop and a whole lot of the leadership and attitude that has made the second baseman an All-Star caliber player over his eight-year career.