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Dustin Pedroia is Looming

With Dustin Pedroia currently rehabbing in Pawtucket, there is a chance the little leader is back before the end of the month. The question to ask though is obvious: is that a good thing? As of writing this article, the Red Sox are 30-15, tied with the Yankees for the division lead, and have the most wins in the MLB. With a rash of injuries over the last four years, the leadership drama following the departure of David Ortiz, and the way the team has come together to start the season, one has to ask if Pedroia returning is a good thing. 

Even asking the question will probably get me crucified amongst my fellow writers, Boston sports fans, and friends alike, but is it really that mind blowing? People are quick to throw out that Pedroia was MVP... that’s great but that was a decade ago. The next thing Pedroia lovers will tell me is that he can hit, he has a career .300 average. That’s also great, but he’s only had over 500 plate appearances once since 2014. During those four seasons, he’s averaged 10 home runs and 58 RBI. For kicks and giggles, let’s take a look at arguably the best second basemen in the game, Jose Altuve’s stats. Since 2014, Altuve has logged over 700 plate appearances twice, and over 650 in the other two seasons. Altuve has also hit over 20 home runs in two of those seasons and his average has sat roughly .40 points higher than Pedroia’s. The point of it isn’t to compare Pedroia to Altuve, because let’s face it, they aren’t even in the same league. Rather, it’s to try to show Red Sox fans that yes, he is still Dustin Pedroia, but he isn’t the Pedroia of 2008-2012. To put it in another context, think of the Garnett, Pierce, and Allen big three for the Celtics, now think of them in 2011-12 when they somehow took it seven games against Miami in the conference finals and got their doors blown off at home in game six. The crowd in the garden was cheering, but they knew it was over. 

That is kind of how I feel with Pedroia right now. He’s been a great story but he is closer to being ready to play a round of 18 with Beckett on his off day than being able to suit up for 160 games. We currently have a Red Sox team that is teetering on the edge of unlikeable. This is largely the same team as last year, which was a very unlikable team. They did remove John Farrell from the equation, but Cora has delivered mixed results as a manager at least so far, and David Price is still a member of the team. Let’s not forget that Pedroia was at the center of the Price v Eck feud clapping away (I hope he didn’t come down with carpal tunnel) for Price. Pedroia is the same guy who got a little testy when he proclaimed that he was the leader last year. There is nothing wrong with that. Pedroia has been here 12 years, and is longest tenured player on the team, he should be the leader. But he has to understand that being the leader is a lot more than going out and playing solid defense. There is a political aspect that comes to being a leader of a team. This is especially the case in the media-centric Boston sports world. David Ortiz understood that, Kevin Garnett understood that, and the Patriots…are the Patriots. 

What Pedroia lacks in leadership capability, he certainly makes up for with his defensive play. Eduardo Nunez, the mostly everyday replacement for Pedroia, has been fine but he has made 2 errors in 35 games started at second base. Pedroia made two errors all of last year. His return will obviously mark an improvement at the position and allow Nunez to fill in at third base, shortstop, and even the outfield. Who knows, it could even allow the Red Sox to say goodbye to Jackie Bradley Jr, leave JD Martinez in the outfield, and start working in Devers at first place the way Michael Travers would be sure to love. Either way, take Pedroia’s return with a grain of salt. He will help the team defensively, but won’t make them more likable. 

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