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Second Base Profile: Dustin Pedroia

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Once one of the top keystone cops (second basemen) in all of fantasy baseball, Pedroia has struggled the last two years. Will 2015 mean more of the same or can he get back some of what he lost?

Will Pedroia rebound in 2015?
Will Pedroia rebound in 2015?
Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Dustin Pedroia is a lovable guy, unless you are a Yankees fan, I suppose. He plays hard, never complains, puts in lots of work, plays excellent defense, has good plate discipline, and is a smart baserunner. If you've owned him in a fantasy league in the last two years, none of that matters to you, because he has disappointed you and you are probably done with him. He once possessed the rare combination of good power and speed, with excellent batting averages and very high run totals hitting second or third in a potent Red Sox lineup. Let's review his downfall with the following table:

Year Games HR R RBI AVG SB Slugging
2011 159 21 102 91 0.307 26 0.474
2012 141 15 81 65 0.29 20 0.449
2013 160 9 91 84 0.301 17 0.415
2014 135 7 72 53 0.278 6 0.376

Notice anything? Homers, steals, and slugging all in a four-year decline. Obviously not a good thing. Ok, so if I am going to promote him as a bounceback candidate, I better have a good reason. Well, let's start with his age. He enters this year at 31, which is post-peak (27 or so) but not in a steep decline phase for most hitters. Steals are most affected by age, followed by power, so his 2011 season will never be duplicated, but his 2013 and 2014 numbers were artificially depressed and it had little to do with age.

Look at the table below. It shows Pedroia's injury history since 2012. You'll notice that finger and hand injuries are prominent. His right thumb bothered him most of 2012 and his left hand/wrist bothered him for all of 2014.

Date Ailment
5/29/12 thumb injury (DTD)
6/5/12 returned to lineup
6/20/12 right thumb injury (DTD)
6/21/12 returned to lineup
7/4/12 thumb injury (DTD)
7/5/12 placed on 15-day DL with sprained right thumb
7/19/12 activated from 15-day DL
10/1/12 finger injury (DTD)
10/2/12 returned to lineup
4/13/14 sore left wrist (DTD)
4/15/14 returned to lineup
5/31/14 right hand injury (DTD)
6/1/14 returned to lineup
8/17/14 illness (DTD)
8/18/14 returned to lineup
8/31/14 concussion (DTD)
9/5/14 returned to lineup
9/9/14 left hand injury (out for season)

Pedroia has earned a reputation for playing through injuries, and deservedly so. Look at those games played numbers in the first table and then look at all those injuries. He clearly dealt with a lot of pain and kept going out there almost every day. As fantasy players, we would rather he sit out and get fully healthy, though, since he was killing us with his reduced production. Ask Ryan Braun how it is to swing with a bad hand/thumb. He had to swing practially one-handed in 2014 due his bad thumb, killing his production. Wrist injuries have been shown to sap power.

His thumb wasn't right in all of 2013, despite not showing up on the injury report and he had it surgically repaired in November of 2013. Those linked Fangraphs articles do a better job than I can of summarizing Pedroia's injuries and impacts on his hitting. Basically, his now fully healthy thumb entered 2014 feeling good after limiting his production in both 2012 and 2013, but then he re-injured his previously surgically-repaired hand in a collision in April and his hand was never right again in 2014.

Here are two statements from Pedroia about his recent injury struggles and how he feels going into 2015.

"It was just frustrating," he said of the injury that nagged him during the season. "The year before, I found a way to perform, playing nicked up. The year before it was a loose feeling — I tore that ligament in my thumb and everything just felt loose, so I was able to figure it out and let the ball travel more and just try to slap balls the other way and get hits and not try to drive the ball. This year it was more, I was restricted. I didn’t have any motion. It was so swollen and tight all year, I couldn’t get a feel of how to get through it. It was tough. I fought it all year.

"Now that it’s fixed, it’s night and day. I can already tell that. There’s a lot of IOU’s to hand out to people, so I’m pretty excited about it."

Added Pedroia: "I feel great. I’m back to a hundred percent. I’m doing all my lifts and everything. My rehab’s going good. I’m full strength and I’m pretty excited. It’s been a long time since I’ve been myself. It’s going to be a lot of fun next year."

Pedroia (wrist) reports he's "full go," telling WEEI.com that he's been hitting since before Christmas. "If [spring training] started tomorrow, I'm ready," Pedroia said. "I've got all my strength back. I'm lifting like a maniac. I'm pretty excited. Last year at this time I couldn't hit yet. It's obvious a lot different offseason this year than last year." (1/15/2015)

Now, I'm not delusional. I don't think he will suddenly become a 20/20 candidate again. Even if he is going to be fully healthy this season all year, he is three years older than he was in 2011 and past his peak athletically. But, that being said, I am bullish on his outlook compared to many out there who think his days as a top 5 second baseman are over. Below you will find Steamer's projection for 2015 along with my own.

HR R RBI AVG SB
Steamer 10 78 67 0.283 10
Me 13 84 71 0.290 12

If you wish, you may take my informal poll below, which simply asks if you agree with me that Pedroia will be a top-5 second baseman (standard 5x5) in 2015 or not. That's all for now, make sure to check out all of our excellent second base coverage here at Fake Teams! Tschus!