Ahh the big one, Dustin Pedroia. Everyone and their mother is waiting on the edge of their seats to see what will happen to the laser show this season.
After a hot start in the show that saw him win the Rookie of the Year award and then the MVP a few injuries put Pedroia on a complete 180 as he has become a shell of the player he used to be spending about as much time off the field as on it. At 31 years old and in the middle of a very long contract 2015 will be a season that sets the tone for the rest of Pedey’s career in Boston–will he be the comeback kid or a disaster that we’re stuck with?
2014 was disappointing in a number of ways for Pedroia; he batted .278 which was decent but managed just 40 extra base hits (seven homers, 0 triples, 33 doubles) which tells me that his wrist was bothering him a heck of a lot all season. Going by his batting chart, he hit balls high and inside, low and down the middle, and belt-high and outside moderately well, but did poorly everywhere else.
When it came to turning on an inside pitch he couldn’t do it (except for lashing at a high one), and similarly failed reaching for pitches outside (other than the easy belt-high ones). While muscle bound sluggers are the rage, hitting is all in the wrists and a bad wrist means you can’t command the zone–Pedroia hit three types of pitches well but sucked everywhere else which has to change if he is going to be a productive member of the lineup. When you throw in that giant swing he takes it becomes all the more necessary for his wrists to be 100%.
I would love nothing more than a vintage season from Pedroia, and if what he says about his wrist and overall physical fitness is true there is really no reason why we can’t expect that from him. That said I think Pedroia’s MVP days are over, at 31 with a host of injuries he’d be lucky to hit .290 with 10 homers and a few extra doubles from his 2014 level. Those numbers would be pretty good, and decent for the top of the order, and at the very least as a defensive whiz-kid Pedroia cements himself as an integral part of the team.
I still think Pedroia is the heart and soul of the Sox, don’t get me wrong the muddy chicken is worth every single penny the Sox throw at him no matter how poorly he does at the plate. The Sox wouldn’t be the Sox if it wasn’t for Pedroia and even if he becomes a .250 hitter he belongs in Boston.