There are few things in this world more unlikable than Dustin Pedroia. He’s scrappy and little and he motivates by raving and muttering about his opponents like a wildman. He has the air of an Ecksteinian over-achiever – the ultimate indictment in my eyes.
There is a key detail omitted from that carefully crafted “gamer” narrative: Dustin Pedroia is one of baseball’s very best players.
After a 30 day span in which Pedroia posted a comical triple slash line of .384/.475/.727 — which translates to a .512 wOBA — Pedroia is now working on a 5.5 WAR season. As in, his 2011 season is already worth nearly 6 Wins and it is still only July.
Pedroia’s incredible play makes the entire “Adrian Gonzalez for MVP” chorus all the more ridiculous. Ad-Gon isn’t even the most valuable player on his own team, let alone the entire league. (Which is to say nothing for the value of having two players on pace for 8 WAR seasons on the same team versus a 10 WAR guy who plays with Edwin Encarnacion.)
Pedroia is not unlike Jose Bautista in that his elite pitch recognition (and teeny-tiny strike zone?) insulates him from the kind of BABIP-induced swings in production. Pedroia persevered through slow April and May when his home run per fly ball rate stayed low at 6% and his in-play averages sat some 30 points below his career marks. Pedroia incredible patience lessened the impact of these lean times as he kept drawing walks at incredibly high levels.
Pedroia is riding an incredible hot streak at the plate, stinging the ball and clouting home runs like it’s his job. And ohbytheway, he’s also a great second baseman. Dewan’s +/- has him at 9 runs saved this season while his partial season UZR is more than 11. Few people who watch the ferretman scramble around the field would say otherwise.
Believe me: praising Dustin Pedroia in this manner brings me no joy. Watching his crush American League pitching and save his team runs while bounding around the field powered by a seemingly endless supply of energy makes me want to change the channel.
But I cannot. He is simply too good. The best player on the best team in baseball is a 5’9″ bald guy who needs a shave. Time to offer our begrudging respect.