Red Sox Role Models: Dustin Pedroia
On the heels of his commentary about Major League Baseball’s steroid policy, Dustin Pedroia is poised to lead the charge in correcting the wrongs of the past two Red Sox seasons. The Boston clubhouse leader is ever vocal. The man who brought us, “Laser Show” was more sincere Sunday saying, ““I want all the young kids and everybody to see baseball as pure and everybody that they see, they can look up to them. I don’t want those kids looking down on their role models. It’s upsetting, man. You don’t want to see that.”
Perhaps Pedroia’s comments are more telling than his usual banter. Red Sox fans need no reminder that their team tanked in the last two seasons: There was the September Collapse, Chicken and Beer, then Bobby-V wasn’t a success, and finally The Trade happened. Last year’s Sox sunk to 69-93, finishing far below the great expectations of the local papers.
Yet here is a man who wants to see baseball unsullied. Dustin Pedroia doesn’t want kids looking down on their role models for steroids or presumably for anything else. Pedroia himself didn’t have a great year last year. But he still logged 141 games and 563 at bats. He posted .290/.347/.449 slash lines with 15 home runs and 65 RBI’s. He wasn’t playing on a good team and he wasn’t playing 100 percent healthy, but Pedroia legged out every ball and probably tallied a few more base hits because of it.
ESPN’s fantasy baseball projections for Pedroia in 2013 include 17 home runs, 70 RBI’s and a .293 batting average over 600 at bats. This is a prudent assessment, to say the least. The addition of 2 more home runs and 5 more RBI’s above last year’s totals looks to be a simple extrapolation of last year’s numbers; they do not look to be numbers that focus on the nucleus of Red Sox changing. Additions of Mike Napoli, a healthy Jacoby Ellsbury, Shane Victorino and Johnny Gomes should have the Red Sox trotting around the bases more than they did in 2012. There should be more ducks on the pond for Pedroia to drive home, particularly with the speedy Ellsbury or Victorino or both in front of him.
Additionally, Pedroia is seemingly healthy this spring. Last season he battled a thumb injury, which, for lack of better terms, probably slowed the Laser Show. The Muddy Chicken is 28 this year. In baseball terms, he should be in his prime. Pedroia’s numbers have slipped a bit in the last couple of years, but so have those of his teammates. This would not make his average go down (he has hovered between .296 and .307 in each of the last four seasons) but it would make his RBI and run totals slip a little (91 in 2011 versus 65 in 2012). I am by no means saying that Pedroia will light the world on fire and amass 100 RBI’s (he has never). However, a total closer to 80 RBI’s can be expected of the diminuitive second baseman.
What is most interesting about Pedroia this season is where new manager John Farrell might place him in the lineup. Traditionally he has hit in the two hole. Coupling speed and plate discipline at the top of the order is certainly something teams look to do. However, Shane Victorino has the potential to shake things up. I am not one for a shakeup because I believe that Pedroia belongs in the second spot of this Red Sox order: Victorino will add excitement to the Boston lineup. He should not be relied on, however, to move runners into scoring position.
This is not to say that I don’t think Victorino could lead off for the Sox. In fact, I very much think he could. If Jacoby Ellsbury shows even a hint of that 30 home run power he showed a couple of seasons ago, the Sox should use him appropriately, nearer the middle of the order.
Pedroia should have a stellar 2013. He is in his prime in a re-tooled lineup that should have speedsters in front of him and big boppers behind. I think that Pedroia projects closer to his 2009 numbers than his 2012 numbers. In 2009, Dustin was an All Star. He hit .296/.341/.447 with 15 home runs and 72 RBI’s. Sound familiar? Those stats are just small marks off of those I cited at the head of this article when naming last season’s statistics. The difference between the two years is number of games played (154 in 2009 to 141 in 2012) and runs scored (115 to 81). Should Pedroia complete a full season in the majors this year, he should come close to the totals he had in his last All Star season.
After all, he is a role model.