Upgrading the Red Sox offense has been a major point of emphasis for Ben Cherington and the front office after a season in which the Red Sox uncharacteristically finished 18th in runs scored (11th in the American League). The Red Sox made the first two big splashes of the offseason, bringing offensive stars Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval to Boston, and even after trading Yoenis Cespedes, have a lineup that profiles as one of the best. However, whether Boston’s lineup lives up to its potential hinges on the performance of some old faces, none more important than second baseman Dustin Pedroia.
According to fWAR, where he posted an impressive 4.4 mark, Pedroia was the most valuable player on the Red Sox last season. However, it wouldn’t show in his offensive stats, where Pedroia’s slash line dipped to .278/.337/.376, all of which were career lows and made him dangerously close to a league-average offensive player.
Pedroia’s primary value last season came from his elite second base defense and the fact that he was posting league-average offense at a weak offensive position. It appears that the days of Dustin Pedroia, AL MVP are finished, but that doesn’t mean that the days of Dustin Pedroia, key contributor in the Red Sox lineup are.
After all, much like the season before, Pedroia’s offensive stats were hampered by an injury that he suffered very early in the season but, being Dustin Bleepin’ Pedroia, played almost every game regardless. Pedroia underwent hand surgery in September and should be fully healthy for the beginning of the season, which could be a great boon to the Red Sox lineup.
Pedroia may never post the type of power numbers that he had during his prime (he posted a .205 isolated power in 2010, remarkable for a player of his stature), but that doesn’t mean that he can’t be an excellent #2 hitter in the Red Sox lineup. If Pedroia is able to hit to the tune of his 2013 season, where he hit .301/.372/.415 despite a thumb injury which bothered him through nearly the entire season, then he will be a key table setter in the Red Sox lineup.
The Red Sox will be able to plug Pedroia and another high on-base speedster (likely Mookie Betts or Rusney Castillo) at the top of the lineup. That would perfectly set the table for the big guns in the middle of the order like David Ortiz, Hanley Ramirez, Mike Napoli, and Pablo Sandoval. The Red Sox will have an excellent lineup regardless of whether Pedroia is back to his form of old; however, if Pedroia is back to at least 2013 form, and it’s certainly possible that he could display more power going forward, this lineup has the potential to be the best lineup in baseball and it’s not really even close.