Red Sox 2017 Report Cards: Second Baseman Dustin Pedroia

BOSTON, MA - JULY 20: Dustin Pedroia
BOSTON, MA - JULY 20: Dustin Pedroia /

Our annual Report Card series evaluates and grades the 2017 season of each member of the Boston Red Sox. Up next – second baseman Dustin Pedroia.

Dustin Pedroia seemed to draw more headlines for what he did off the field than what he produced on the field this season for the Boston Red Sox.

The Red Sox were in dire need of a veteran voice in the clubhouse to fill the void left by the retirement of David Ortiz. When we asked for a leader, Pedroia boldly insisted “I’m standing right here.” As eager as the longtime second baseman was to assume that role, his leadership skills would be questioned throughout the season.

It began in a series against the Baltimore Orioles in April when reliever Matt Barnes fired a fastball behind the head of Manny Machado in retaliation for the O’s third baseman spiking Pedroia on a slide that the Red Sox felt was dirty. Pedroia immediately reacted to the situation by yelling from the dugout that he wasn’t responsible. While it’s true that it wasn’t Pedroia’s idea to throw at Machado, many felt that he was throwing his teammates under the bus by siding with the other team.

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Controversy stirred again in July when David Price confronted broadcaster Dennis Eckersley on a team flight, lashing out at the Hall of Fame pitcher for having the audacity to give his honest opinion – or in other words, doing his job. A leader would have taken Price aside to discourage this embarrassing behavior and squash any conflict before it escalated to the point where the public would catch wind of it. Instead, Pedroia was reportedly among the players applauding Price.

The biggest storyline surrounding Pedroia this year revolved around his health. He was limited to 105 games by chronic knee issues that may plague him for the rest of his career.

Pedroia’s production at the plate remained relatively solid. He hit .293 with a .761 OPS. His counting stats were down due to the time he missed but on a per-game basis, he produced about what you would expect at this stage of his career.

The troubling decline was more on the defensive end, where Pedroia seems to have lost a step. He’s still capable of making spectacular plays but they come with less frequency. While his .995 fielding percentage was above his career rate, that’s in part due to not getting to as many balls as he used to. He posted a -2 defensive runs saved and 6.1 UZR. The former Gold Glove winner hasn’t suddenly become a poor defender but he’s no longer elite.

Injuries and the steady decline of both his bat and glove conspired to leave Pedroia with a 1.5 WAR – the first time since his brief introduction to the majors in 2006 that he produced below a 2.0 WAR.

Pedroia will turn 35 next August and plays a position that historically doesn’t age well. Questions about his health and declining production leave the Red Sox wondering how much they can count on him going forward.

Pedroia isn’t going anywhere, not with four years and $56 million left on his contract. While some may prefer to re-sign free agent infielder Eduardo Nunez to be the everyday second baseman, it may not be feasible unless Pedroia gets traded. It’s hard to imagine another team taking on that contract given his age and lingering health issues – especially after Dave Dombrowski tarnished any trade value he had by publically revealing that Pedroia’s knee will be an issue for the rest of his career.

C -. . Second Base. . Dustin Pedroia

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We should expect Pedroia to be back in the lineup at second base to begin next season but the risk of injury and further decline will remain high.