Dustin Pedroia’s career might not have ended the way he hoped or imagined, but there’s no denying the Boston Red Sox second baseman made quite an impact when he was on the field.
The 2008 American League MVP called it a career Monday, announcing his retirement after 15 seasons and a battle with knee problems that showed no end in sight. He walks away as arguably the best second baseman in franchise history and, had it not been for injuries, likely would have been a Hall of Famer for his role as a core piece in a borderline dynastic run that transformed the entire organization.
As such, there’s been no shortage of memorable plays, moments and achievements in Pedroia’s career. Here are some of the best.
2007 American League Rookie of the Year
The 2006 season was a forgettable one for Pedroia. The 22-year-old got called to the big leagues and fell on his face, hitting .191 in 31 games. That all changed the next season, as he found his groove, hitting .317 and playing stellar defense at second base. The performance made the sparkplug a runaway choice for AL Rookie of the Year.
Preserving the no-no
In September of 2007, Clay Buchholz tossed a no-hitter against the Baltimore Orioles. Buchholz can thank Pedroia, as this play kept it intact.
Coming up clutch in 2007 ALCS
Pedroia’s breakout campaign continued right into the playoffs, where he provided perhaps the most overlooked hit of the entire postseason. The second baseman came to the plate in Game 7 with the Red Sox leading 3-2 in the bottom of the seventh. With one out and a runner at third, Pedroia had to find a way to get in a much-needed insurance run. Instead, he swung out of his heels and hit a sky-scraping home run to deep left field, punctuated by an emphatic bat flip. From there, the rout was on, as the Sox rolled to an 11-2 win that sealed the pennant.
Starting off 2007 World Series with a bang
It didn’t take Colorado Rockies starter Jeff Francis long to find out who Pedroia was. After providing the late-game punch in Game 7 of the ALCS, Pedroia set the tone in Game 1 of the World Series. When Francis left an 89 mph piece of nothing out over the plate, Pedroia lunged and muscled it over the Green Monster for a leadoff home run. That marked the beginning of a four-game series in which Boston led all but six innings as the Red Sox steamrolled their way to a second world title in four seasons.
2008 triple threat, highlighted by MVP
Talk about an encore. Pedroia didn’t rest on his laurels in 2008. The Arizona State product led the majors with career highs in hits (213) and doubles (54) while also leading the American League with 118 runs. He played near-flawless defense at second base, too. The end result? A Silver Slugger, a Gold Glove and the AL MVP award. That all led to a cover spot on the “MLB: The Show 2009” video game and this awesome TV spot.
“Laser show, relax.”
Pedroia set out to defend his teammate, David Ortiz, early during the 2010 season when some wondered whether the designated hitter’s job should have been in jeopardy. Pedroia gave an impassioned defense of Ortiz, and in the process dropped a line that would come to sort of define Pedroia’s offensive prowess.
2010: Rocky Mountain high
Arguably the best single-game performance of Pedroia’s career came on a random June night in Colorado during the 2010 season. Pedroia went yard three times to cap a 5-for-5 night at Coors Field in a dramatic 13-11 Red Sox win. Unfortunately for Pedroia, it would be the final highlight of his season. He fouled a ball off his foot the next night in San Francisco and played in just two games the rest of the season.
2013: Forgotten gem
The Red Sox lost Game 3 of the 2013 World Series on the final play, which started with Pedroia — but make no mistake, the loss wasn’t on his shoulders. With the game tied and a runner at third with just one out, the Red Sox infield was playing in. Pedroia made an incredible diving stop on a ball bound for the outfield and quickly got to his feet and threw a strike to home plate to cut down the would-be winning run in Allen Craig. Had the play ended there, maybe the Red Sox get out of the inning and win the game in extra innings. But Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s errant throw to third base after tagging out Craig set off another chain of events that ended in the never-seen walk-off obstruction call that gave St. Louis the win. The Red Sox, though, ultimately won the series — the second world title of Pedroia’s career — in six games.
2017: Right place, right time, incredible play
It’s possible that no play sums up Pedroia better than this one from 2017. Even as injuries had begun to slow his career, Pedroia showed flashes of brilliance, including this play in Arlington. It was the perfect combination of the heady Pedroia being in the right place at the right time and then making a simply fantastic play, sliding, barehanding the ball and throwing to first seemingly all at once.
2018: “He’s the heart and soul of this team”
The 2018 season had to have been the most bittersweet campaign for Pedroia. He played in just three games, collecting one hit in 11 at-bats, as his nagging knee injury — the one that ultimately cost him his career — just wouldn’t get better. Yet, despite Pedroia’s ongoing struggles with his health, the Red Sox were a juggernaut. The Red Sox dominated from start to finish, winning a franchise-record 108 games en route to another World Series title, the third of Pedroia’s career. And while Pedroia wasn’t always physically with the team, he still found ways to contribute, something not lost on his teammates.
“He’s the heart and soul of this team,” Brock Holt said during the 2018 season. “He’s been here the longest. He’s won two World Series. So to have him here, it’s always better with him here than when he’s gone.”