Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Dustin Pedroia Is REALLY Good

The time has come to fully admit the obvious. Of course everyone knows that Dustin Pedroia is really good. It's just that this Fan has taken a long time to come around. Let's be honest here. The Fan just doesn't like the guy. Take, for example, how he pumped his fist in glee when he hit a homer against the Yankees in the first dang series of the year. It wasn't the World Series, you piker. So that's just an example. But the Fan's problem with the guy doesn't mask the obvious. The guy is one of the best in the business and credit is due here in this space.

Chase Utley is definitely number one. He is on top of all second basemen in UZR and he's one of the best hitters in baseball. The real debate comes to number two. And there really are only three choices: Pedroia, Cano and Brandon Phillips. Orlando Hudson would be in the equation because he is a great fielder. But his bat is no where near the others. Brandon Phillips had a good year at the plate last year, but not in the class of Pedroia and Cano. So you have to drop him out.

The really weird thing is that Pedroia and Cano are not faring well in the UZR ratings so far this year. Pedroia is 14th and Cano is 16th. But Cano has the second best range at his position in baseball and Pedroia hardly ever makes an error. Go figure. Really smart people tally these statistics so there must be something to them. But gosh, both seem a lot better fielding their position than indicated by UZR.

Robinson Cano has a real chance at a batting title this year. His wOBA leads all second basemen, even Utley. So offensively, the Fan thinks that Cano has overtaken Pedroia. That would seem to give Cano the definitive number two spot.

But Pedroia just has something. Uh oh. It's that intangible word again. Egads! The Fan will probably take a beating for this, but there is just something about Pedroia that puts him in the right place at the right time (check out that double play last night) and up at the plate in a big moment. He's like an ultimately more annoying Jeter. He's like Jeter without that same kind of class that Jeter always exhibits.

His grit and his determination have made him, like his teammate, Youkilis, a much better player than his physical skills seem to dictate he should be. There is something to be said for that. Okay, here is the ultimate analogy. Are you ready? He's like a more annoying Jeter and like a David Epstein who can actually hit. Yup, that's perfect.

And while the Red Sox have their share of problems (will Ortiz get released?) Pedroia is not one of them. He's a star at his position and probably the third best overall second baseman in baseball. Not too shabby for a guy this Fan so totally dislikes.

Man, that was painful.

1 comment:

Josh Borenstein said...

I love Pedroia. I could see how his swagger would rub people the wrong way, though.

Cano and Pedroia are definitely in the discussion after Utley. I would put Kinsler ahead of Phillips, although he is an exceptional fielder. Kinsler is no slouch himself in the field. Great range, and he's cut down on the errors.

I don't put much stock in UZR. My eyes tell me that Mark Teixeira is one of the best fielding 1B in the game. UZR disagrees. I trust my eyes. And recently there was some new calculation to Jason Bay's UZR from last year. He went from an atrocious fielder to an above average fielder overnight. UZR is a very flawed metric, IMO.