Thank You, Dustin Pedroia

This looks like the end of an era for one of the greatest players in franchise history. Longtime second baseman Dustin Pedroia announced in a press conference that he’s taking some time away from baseball due to his chronic knee pain. Pedroia said that it’s sometimes hard for him to walk and said he’s “not sure” if he’ll ever play again.

If this truly is it for Pedroia, he’ll retire as one of the best players in the history of the Boston Red Sox. Both on the field and off, it’s hard to find anyone in franchise history who better exemplified what it meant to be a Red Sox. He’s a 21st-century legend second to only David Ortiz in recent franchise relevance.

A Thank You to Dustin Pedroia

In today’s MLB, everyone is looking for a homegrown superstar with an unmatched work ethic and leadership. That’s exactly what Dustin Pedroia was throughout his Red Sox tenure. The former second-round pick became a full-time major leaguer in 2007 and immediately developed into one of baseball’s biggest stars. Pedroia won Rookie of the Year thanks to a fantastic season in which he posted a .317/.380/.442 slash line in 139 games. He played a big role in helping the Red Sox win their second championship of the century, as he hit a home run in Game Seven of the ALCS and in Game One of the World Series.

Pedroia’s rookie season was a success in every sense of the word, but his second season was even better. Appearing in 157 games, Pedroia won MVP honors behind a .326/.376/.493 slash line and phenomenal defense. Pedroia had officially entered the ranks of the MLB elite, and he continued to play at a high level throughout the grand majority of his career. If this truly is the end, Pedroia finishes his career as a four-time All-Star, four-time Gold Glove winner, three-time World Series champion, and a one-time Silver Slugger winner. He finishes his career with a .299/.365/.439 slash line and a 51.7 bWAR.

Pedroia struggled in recent years to recover from his 2017 knee injury. While it looks like said injury may have ended his career, fans should applaud Pedroia for his valiant effort to return to the field. Pedroia’s contract is fully guaranteed, and he could have easily pulled a Jacoby Ellsbury and cashed his checks without seriously trying to return. However, Pedroia underwent multiple experimental surgeries to try and come back. Right until the end, Pedroia continued to give everything he had to the game and team he loved.

Dustin Pedroia, Beyond the Numbers

Pedroia had fantastic numbers, but his impact on the game went far beyond anything a box score can show. Anyone who watched Pedroia knows that he was the hardest worker in all of baseball. Despite his 5’9” frame, Pedroia constantly gave 110% and his body ultimately paid the price for his devotion to the game.

Perhaps the best example of how Pedroia’s play affected his peers comes from longtime New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera. Rivera released an autobiography entitled “The Closer” back in 2014 and discussed how he admired Pedroia’s unparalleled work ethic, hustle, and all-around style of play.

“Nobody plays harder, gives more, wants to win more. He comes at you hard for 27 outs. It’s a special thing to see…If I have to win one game, I’d have a hard time taking anybody over Dustin Pedroia as my second baseman”. Keep in mind that Robinson Cano was still a Yankee when Rivera penned that quote.

Pedroia was a student of the game and made everyone on the roster better. In recent years, Pedroia has served as a pseudo-coach while helping bring out the best in every player on the roster. Back in 2016, Pedroia noticed that newly-signed ace David Price had a kink in his mechanics. After starting the season with a 6.75 ERA in his first six starts, Price ended the season by tossing 183.2 innings to the tune of a 3.43 ERA, and that improvement was largely due to Pedroia’s insight. This wasn’t an isolated incident, as Pedroia also helped fix Mike Napoli’s swing in 2015 and taught Eduardo Rodriguez how to throw a curveball earlier this very season.

Basically, Pedroia was a homegrown superstar who did everything asked of him at an elite level. His work ethic and knowledge of the game was unparalleled and he improved the play of everyone around him. He sacrificed his body for his team and fought tooth and nail to return to the field. Pedroia should be loved by all Red Sox fans, and most fans appreciate all he’s done for the team. However, a small fraction of objectively stupid fans hates Pedroia for one incident back in 2017.

Why Fans Who Hate Pedroia Are Stupid and Dumb

Pedroia’s knee issues stem back to an early-season matchup against the Baltimore Orioles back in 2017. During that series, Pedroia tried to turn a double play but Manny Machado slid spike-first into Pedroia. The second baseman went down in obvious agony from the cheap slide.

Then-manager John Farrell was furious about the incident and publicly spoke about how such a play was completely unacceptable. Pedroia tried to be the bigger man and said he didn’t want any retaliation in the coming games. This is called being an adult and taking the high road, and Pedroia should be applauded for this. Farrell, forever being a petulant child, lacked Pedroia’s maturity and told reliever Matt Barnes to intentionally hit Machado. Barnes obliged, throwing at Machado’s head. NESN cameras then panned to the Red Sox bench and caught Pedroia saying “that didn’t come from me”.

People who don’t like context took this to mean that Pedroia threw Barnes under the bus when, in reality, he was criticizing his stupid manager for escalating a situation and ultimately being a moron. Pedroia handled the situation like a responsible adult but his dipshit of a manager went and ruined everything and ultimately ruined Pedroia’s legacy for a small fraction of the fans.

The truth is that Dustin Pedroia is everything anyone could ever want in a ballplayer. Dustin Pedroia, thank you for a truly unique and memorable career.

Dave Latham

Engineer by day, sportswriter by night. Follow me @DLPatsThoughts

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