Dustin Pedroia?s season is over. And it?s a good thing for the Boston Red Sox.
That?s probably not a statement you expected to hear this year, especially when the Red Sox kicked off their World Series defense. But the reality is the Sox aren?t going anywhere, Pedroia is banged up and Boston needs to ensure one of its franchise cornerstones is 100 percent entering 2015.
Pedroia underwent successful left thumb/wrist surgery Thursday, ending the second baseman?s 2014 campaign. He suffered the injury on a play at second base in the Red Sox?s home opener April 4 and re-aggravated it on another play at second base later in the season. In typical Pedroia fashion, the four-time All-Star pushed through, attempting to finish the year despite Boston?s struggles by receiving constant treatment. The inflammation eventually worsened.
Pedroia’s grit is admirable. While breaking down intangibles is fruitless, no one in Major League Baseball plays the game with more passion or better represents what it means to be a ?baseball player? than Pedroia.
?It means a lot to play baseball in the major leagues, especially with the Boston Red Sox,? Pedroia said Tuesday after another loss while discussing his injury. ?There shouldn?t be one guy in here that thinks they?re going to pack it in. We?re here for each other and trying to play. It doesn?t matter where we are in the standings.
?We?re lucky enough every day to come out here and play Major League Baseball,? Pedroia added. ?I don?t ever take a day for granted.?
It?s that mindset that contributes to much of Pedroia?s success. But it?s also why the Red Sox absolutely needed to take the decision regarding surgery out of his hands — no pun intended — and shut him down for the year.
Pedroia, who played through a thumb injury all of last season, admitted Tuesday that he still was rehabbing from last offseason?s surgery when he suffered his injury in the Red Sox?s home opener. Boston?s shortened offseason following the team’s World Series run was welcome, but it prevented Pedroia from fully recovering.
It became obvious this season — though Pedroia wouldn?t acknowledge such — that something was ailing the hard-nosed champion.
While Pedroia was sensational defensively — perhaps setting himself up for a fourth Gold Glove — his offensive production was subpar, especially by his standards. He posted career-lows across the board, hitting .278 with seven homers, 53 RBIs and a .712 OPS in 135 games. His strikeout rate (12.3 percent), meanwhile, was the highest of his career.
Pedroia posted a 98 wRC+, meaning he created two percent fewer runs than a league average player. His .098 Isolated Power (ISO), which measures a hitter?s raw power or the ability to hit for extra bases, ranked 13th among 17 qualified major league second basemen and is considered ?poor? to ?awful,? according to FanGraphs? estimate chart. By nearly every measure, Pedroia was a middle-of-the-pack second baseman offensively in 2014.
?If you don?t have your hand strength, you?re not able to follow through (on your swing) like you normally do,? Pedroia said Tuesday. ?It makes it tough. But you?ve got to try to find ways in other areas to help your team win.?
Pedroia has the ability to impact the game in other ways, which is why this would be a different story if he was grinding at less than 100 percent while the Red Sox were in playoff contention. With Boston sitting in last place in the American League East, however, there?s no sense taking any unnecessary risks.
The Red Sox simply can’t afford to enter another season with Pedroia as damaged goods.