Dustin Pedroia: A Career Retrospective

Courtesy+of+chowderandchampions.com

Courtesy of chowderandchampions.com

Alexander Bingham, Contributing Writer

Second baseman Dustin Pedroia finally retired on February 1st, marking the end of his fourteen-year career for the Boston Red Sox. Despite standing only 5’9”, Pedroia played with intensity and dedication, leaving a lasting impact on the many coaches, teammates, and fans that witnessed number 15 play. 

After being drafted by the Sox in the second round of the 2004 MLB draft out of Arizona State University, Pedroia burst onto the scene in 2007 for Boston, both with his play on the field and his mentality and work ethic off of it. In 2007 Pedroia notched a .317 batting average, a .380 on-base percentage, and a .442 slugging percentage en route to the 2007 American League Rookie of the Year award. Then, in his first World Series at-bat, Pedroia hit a lead-off home run against the Colorado Rockies, sparking the Sox to a series sweep (Pedroia is still the only rookie in MLB history with this accomplishment). In 2008, Pedroia continued the excellence he showcased in his rookie year, winning the American League MVP award with a league-leading 213 hits and 54 doubles. Pedroia is still the only player to win a Rookie of the Year award, MVP, gold glove, and World Series title through his first two years in the league, a feat that only nine other players have accomplished throughout their entire career. Over the remainder of his playing time, Pedroia added three more gold gloves and three more all-star appearances in the regular season while starting 51 straight postseason games and winning two more world series rings with the Boston Red Sox. 

Starting eleven straight opening days at second, Pedroia became a beloved figure in Boston over his career. His teammate and fellow Red Sox legend David Ortiz said, “It got to the point while I played that I asked myself one day, who would be a player that you would buy a ticket to see, because it was worth it to watch him play for nine innings. And my answer was Dustin Pedroia. He played with a little chip on his shoulder. He basically had the F-you type of mentality whenever he took the field. I got to the point where I worried so much about him, the way he hustled, the way he played hard, his discipline. He was committed to do well for his team and his teammates. His commitment was extraordinary.” 

When Pedroia finally called it quits, he ranked eighth in Red Sox history for hits, extra-base hits, and total bases; sixth for doubles and stolen bases; 10th for runs scored; and ninth for at-bats.”

Pedroia had such a high popularity among Boston locals that in 2011, when the coconut water company Vita Coco launched an advertising campaign with Rihanna as the national spokesperson, they decided to have Pedroia as the Boston spokesperson, citing that he carried more influence in Boston than the international pop star. 

Sadly, Pedroia’s spent the last few years of his career with a knee injury that ultimately forced him to retire. After a hard slide by then Orioles third baseman Manny Machado in 2017, Pedroia injured his knee and was forced to endure multiple surgeries that limited him to only nine more games in his career.

“Could it have ended better and I finished my career the right way? Yeah of course.” Pedroia said on a Zoom call with the press. He continued, “My biggest thing in my mind was that this could be my last game and you don’t know. That’s the best way I approached it from Little League on. I had the best time playing.”  

When Pedroia finally called it quits, he ranked eighth in Red Sox history for hits, extra-base hits, and total bases; sixth for doubles and stolen bases; 10th for runs scored; and ninth for at-bats. Former Red Sox captain Jason Varitek mentioned, “As a competitor, no one stands quite as tall as Pedroia, he may be short in stature, but he’s tall in presence. He not only worked his way to the player that he is but had a heart of a lion to get it done. Dustin Pedroia truly exemplifies what it means to wear the uniform of the Boston Red Sox. He is a true Red Sox and always will be.”

Pedroia heads into retirement with a tough case for the Hall of Fame. He certainly has the accolades and the playoff performances, but with only a 51.6 career wins above replacement (WAR), he may not have high enough career stats or longevity necessary for Cooperstown. 

Many seem to think that Pedroia could one day end up in a coaching position with the Red Sox organization, as he is well respected for his leadership and energy. In the meantime, Pedroia says he is looking forward to being able to spend time with his family without worrying about playing or rehab.