Don’t Pick Dustin Pedroia

I remember the good old days of middle infield production. At shortstop you had the three R’s, Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes, and Jimmy Rollins, with Tulowitzki when he was healthy. When it came to second base, there were guys like Utley, Cano, Kinsler, Phillips, and Pedroia. As time passes, these names have faded from the truly elite tier, with the exception of Cano and Tulo. Hanley, Reyes, and Kinsler can still compete as top-5 options, but Ultey, Rollins, and Phillips have fallen off due to age and injury.

Then there’s Pedroia. Regarding his perceived value, he gets the Boston bonus for playing in a big market. He’s also been a top-3 2B several years in the past (4th in 2013, 2nd in 2011 and 2008), though you should discount performances that are older than three years when looking to the future. Still, he was ranked #38 overall in 2013, despite hitting fewer than 10 HR, and that was only two years ago. Surely he’ll bounce back in 2015, right? I’m not buying it. When it comes to redraft leagues in 2015, and especially keeper leagues, I’m avoiding Pedroia at all costs. Ron gave a few highlights of why he doesn’t like Pedroia in his Draft This, Not That piece for 2B, but I’ll go even further in-depth and convince you to steer clear.

Pedroia suffered a down season in 2014, and certainly part of that was due to his wrist injury. He had surgery in September, and he’s professing his full health already, but we should know better than to put a ton of stock into preseason claims. A wrist injury, and the surgery that follows it, can  affect the next season as well as the year in which it occurs, especially when that surgery wasn’t until the very end of the season. I won’t believe he’s fully healthy until I see him swinging effortlessly at the end of spring training.

But let’s give him the benefit of the doubt. Let’s say he’s fully healthy and simply look at his numbers. What in his stats give you a warm, fuzzy feeling for the future? I sure can’t find anything. He has seen four-year declines in HR, and it’s not just a plate appearance issue, because his SLG and OPS have declined four years as well. On top of that, he’s had his highest two ground ball rates in the last two years (50%, 48%). Even if you want to excuse his decreased HR/FB due to his wrist for 2014, it doesn’t explain the overall four-year slide in that stat. A player who is hitting more balls on the ground, and fewer home runs per fly ball, is not going to reach double-digit HR again.

Pedroia used to offer us a blend of power and speed, though neither in very large amounts. His speed was more reliable than his power. However, most players slow down the older they get, and his SB success rate was only 50% in 2014 after holding steady in the 76-77% range for three years. He is riding a four-year slide in total SB as well. (Note the trend?) Could he reverse this decline? It’s more likely than 10 HR, but I definitely wouldn’t expect more than 15 SB moving forward.

Batting average is becoming a scarce commodity, and Pedroia has usually done well there. However, when his BABIP is under .325, he’s not a .300 hitter. He posted his worst BB/K and K% of his career in 2015. Despite a career best LD%, which usually boosts BABIP and BA, he posted his lowest BA of his career. Unless he hits in middle of lineup, he won’t pile up the RBI total he had in 2013, and I’m not sure the Red Sox will put him in the heart of the order. There’s too much risk and not enough potential return on value here.

Now let’s look at his rankings for 2015. CBS has Pedroia ranked #7 for 2B. What are they smoking? Apparently the same thing as everyone else. ESPN and Rotoworld have him at #7 as well. What about the guys I consider very comparable? Howie Kendrick, Martin Prado, and Dan Murphy profile in the same way: potentially above-average BA, maybe 10 HR and SB. They are definitely healthy, and Pedroia is not. Yet Pedroia is ranked 7 by CBS, Murphy is 9, and Kendrick is 17. For Rotowold, Kendrick is 10 and Murphy is 12. For ESPN, Murphy is 10, Kendrick is 14, and Prado is all the way down at 17.

Let the rankings sink in, and then look at some projections.

Streamer 5×5 projections
  BA  HR  RBI  SB 
Dustin Pedrioa .283 78  10 67  10 
Daniel Murphy .277 67  56  11 
Howie Kendrick .275  55  58 
Martin Prado .274  67 11  63 
Baseball HQ Projections
  BA  HR  RBI  SB 
Dustin Pedrioa .287 79  10 65  9
Daniel Murphy .288 74 63 12
Howie Kendrick .294  74 71 12
Martin Prado .283  68 13  65 3

By Steamer, Pedroia is the best player, but only barely, and the difference is certainly not worth being ranked 3+ spots higher than the others. When it comes to Baseball HQ, Pedroia isn’t even the best player — Murphy and Kendrick are. Don’t pay for the name and for past performance, especially 3+  seasons ago. Dustin Pedroia is not likely to perform all that much better than Prado, depending on whose projections you most buy into, yet ESPN considers them 11 ranks apart! Let Red Sox fans draft Pedroia, and feel free to ignore him in all but the deepest leagues that require MI. I certainly wouldn’t rely on him as my primary 2B in 2015.

Kevin Jebens

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Fantasy baseball player since 2000; winning leagues ranging from 12-team H2H to 18-team experts 5x5. Has written for various baseball blogs, including the 2013 Bleed Cubbie Blue Annual.