Dustin Pedroia has been a fixture for the Red Sox since 2006, and it is safe to say that he will forever be a fan favorite. He has won his share of championships and his production has been right there amongst the elites in baseball. But, now that he is on the downside of his prime and struggled through injuries the last two seasons, could the “Laser Show” be on its last legs?
Thanks to his age, he is entering his age 32 season and playing style, he has been prone to nagging injuries. One of the bigger problems he has had to battle were both thumb and wrist injuries that really hampered his power in 2013 and 2014, where he only mustered a total of 16 homers.
Last season it seemed as though Pedroia was over the troublesome hand injuries that slowed him prior to 2015, as he was on pace to produce at the same levels near his career norms. Unfortunately, Pedroia suffered a pretty bad hamstring injury in July and it dereialed what could have possibly been a resurgence season. While he certainly has the name recognition that will continue to get him drafted, this season may actually be an opportune time to buy low on him after owners may be tired of dealing with the nagging injury problems.
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Let’s first concede that it is unfair to expect vintage Pedroia production, he just is not the same player at this stage of his career. Yet, there are some clear positives in terms of evaluating his fantasy value next season. He not only has the batted ball data to reinforce that he can still produce, but he will also be atop one of the best lineups he has ever been.
Throughout his entire career he has consistently posted a LD rate that is always near 20%, thus the nickname “laser show”. Last season his LD rate dropped to 17.7%, so even though it may be lower than the prior two seasons, his FB% rate did rise to the highest it’s been since 2013. In some scenarios that LD dip would be worrisome, but thanks to Fenway and the Green Monster, that FB% uptick is a welcome sight in terms of his power numbers next seaoson.
His Contact% still comes it a very respectful 88.1% and he even got his walk rates back near 9%, which is more aligned with his career norms. He is still a free swinger, but with solid contact rates, he can continue to get away with his aggressive approach.
The biggest dip in production is clearly in the stolen base category. In his prime, he would steal close to 20 bags, but over the last two seasons he hasn’t gotten close to that same level. In 2014, out of 12 stolen base attempts, he was caught six times. Last season, he only attempted four steals and was caught twice.
It is impossible to predict that Pedroia can get back to being a 20 steal threat at this point of his career, but he has already vowed this offseason that he wants to run more. With the MI position being so weak this year fantasy wise, Pedroia may offer one of the better later round starting options.
Counting stats wise, he is in the best scenario possible to amass prime production. He looks to slide into the second spot in the lineup, slotting behind Mookie Betts and in front of Xander Bogaerts, David Ortiz, and Hanley Ramirez. The BoSox lineup looks to be one of the deeper ones in the league so the counting stat opportunities will be aplenty.
Waiting on Pedroia to be a starter at 2B may be a risk fantasy owners are not willing to take in 2016, but there still is enough meat on the bone production wise that can offset some concerns. Predicting injuries are futile and impossible to do in sports, so even though his playing style may leave him more prone to the possibilities, he has proven to be a player that we would be mistaken to write off just yet.
2016 Early Projections: .290 AVG/12 HR/65 RBI/12 SB/80 R/.780 OPS