It’s more difficult to compare defensive performance between two players from vastly different eras but it’s fair to say both were elite in the field. We know Pedroia is a great defensive player because his mantle is decorated with four Gold Glove awards, an honor that didn’t exist when Doerr played.
Many of the modern statistics we use to evaluate defense today weren’t available in Doerr’s day either. Pedroia fares well in Defensive Runs Saved, Ultimate Zone Rating and other advanced fielding metrics but we can’t track those measurements for Doerr.
We have to rely on simpler methods to evaluate players from the first half of the 20th century. Doerr is the franchise leader among second baseman in putouts, assists and double plays turned. His .980 career fielding percentage was well above average for the era he played in.
Pedroia can’t match the counting stats but he owns a superior .991 fielding percentage. The league average has significantly risen over the decades though. The league average at the position during Pedroia’s career is .984 compared to .971 during the period Doerr played in. Pedroia has the higher percentage but Doerr is further above the league average for his era.
Our minds are fresh with memories of Pedroia’s wizardry with the glove but most of us aren’t old enough to have seen Doerr field the position. Those who did see him play speak glowingly of his ability.
"“I never saw him misplay a ball, and he had the best backhand of any second baseman I ever saw,” said Red Sox teammate Johnny Pesky, per the National Baseball Hall of Fame."
We’ll give the edge to Pedroia based on the data we can analyze but Doerr was clearly very good with the glove.