Red Sox need second baseman Dustin Pedroia healthy, productive

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 08: Dustin Pedroia
BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 08: Dustin Pedroia /

The Boston Red Sox will soon have a significant upgrade to their offense and defense when Dustin Pedroia returns. A healthy and productive Pedroia is essential for 2018.

Eduardo Nunez is a player one has to admire for his determination, gritty style of play and an ability to get the job done, but to paraphrase a famous politician: “I have seen Dustin Pedroia and you are no Pedroia.”  The Boston Red Sox need a healthy and productive Pedroia back at second base.

I have read comments by several Red Sox fans the last year or so grousing about the Pedroia contract. Here is a fact – he has earned it. Even last season he earned it. In 2017, his contract was for $16 million and according to the value tool on FanGraphs his value was $15.9 million and that is with an injury shortened season.

In 2017, Pedroia hit .293. He also had 62 RBI and that was the same total as Hanley Ramirez. But Pedroia did it in 105 games.

How about defense? Pedroia’s defensive numbers degraded after his knee injury and continual attempts to play. For the second time in his career, his Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) went negative at -2. Nunez is already at -5.

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The last time he posted a negative DRS value was 2015 when Pedroia played only 95 games due to injury. That season, Pedroia finished with a -3 DRS. Historically – when healthy – Pedroia is an elite defender and was in 2017 until his knee finally needed surgery. So, put to rest any defensive issues unless the surgery has suddenly morphed Pedroia into a turtle with a glove.

Red Sox fans have a short memory. Do any realize just how good Pedroia has been and for such a long time? This a career .300 hitter who in 2016 hit .318 and it was a hard .318 with 36 doubles and 15 home runs. Taking nothing away from Nunez but Pedroia is light years ahead of Nunez defensively and offensively.

Pedroia has spent his entire career with a chip on his shoulder by those who have underestimated his talent. After a dismal beginning hitting just .191 at the end of 2006 the comments were all about PedroiAAA. That off-season I was fortunate to attend an event and Pedroia spoke with passion about just what he was doing to vacate that embarrassment.  What followed was Rookie of the Year.

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This lineup needs Pedroia. A .300 hitter with sting can further mitigate some of the offensive erosion of Jackie Bradley and our rubber bat catchers. Pedroia also brings defense and that is sorely lacking in the Red Sox infield. In 2016 – Pedroia’s last full season – he was defensively the top-ranked second baseman in the American League. That is certainly needed.