The number nine is symbolic in Major League Baseball for multiple reasons.
Nine innings. Nine players in a batting lineup. However, for Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia, it marks the number of games he’s played since the conclusion of the 2017 season.
Knee procedures on top of knee procedures on top of knee procedures. And even though he’s been rehabbing from his latest procedure for months, he will open up the 2020 season on the injured list. Be as it may, it is hard to feel anything short of apologetic for the abrupt deterioration of the now 36-year-old second baseman.
That being said, the 5-foot-9 infielder has carved out a very impressive career for himself with a .299/.365/.439 slash line, a .352 wOBA and a wRC+ of 115. He also has posted 97 defensive runs saved (DRS), which ranks fifth all-time among second basemen. On top of that, Pedroia has been named to four All-Star teams and won four Gold Gloves, as well as gaining Rookie of the Year and American League Most Valuable Player honors in 2007 and 2008, respectively.
Although there is still a chance Pedroia could return to the Red Sox, it appears that the team has decided to prepare for yet another season with the intention of him not playing … and if he does, expect very little participation.
This begs the question: has Dustin Pedroia done enough to deserve Hall of Fame induction?
To properly answer that, one must compare the longtime Red Sox fan favorite to other second basemen in the Hall of Fame already. In total, there are 21 second basemen in the Baseball Hall of Fame, averaging 67.4 career fWAR. While Pedroia (46.6) would rank 18th in that fraternity, he ranks ninth in fWAR/150 (4.6).
Translation: over a 150-game sample size, Dustin Pedroia would exude the ninth-most value amongst Hall of Fame second basemen.
Moreover, the longest-tenured Red Sox would rank 10th in batting average (.299), 12th in on-base percentage (.365), 10th in slugging percentage (.439), tied for 14th in weighted on-base average (.352), and tied for 11th in wRC+ (115).
He wouldn’t be the best player from this position in the Hall, but the fact remains that he is at least worthy of recognition amongst these greats.
Perhaps the best comparison for Dustin Pedroia in terms of Hall of Fame status is longtime Astros great Craig Biggio, who was inducted into Cooperstown in 2015.
While Biggio crushes Pedroia in counting stats (1,255 more hits, 151 more home runs, 450 more runs batted in), the two are actually comparable on a rate basis.
Pedroia: .299/.365/.439, .352 wOBA, 115 wRC+, 113 OPS+, 97 DRS, 4.6 fWAR/150
Biggio: .281/.363/.433, .352 wOBA, 115 wRC+, 112 OPS+, -32 DRS, 3.5 fWAR/150
Counting stats are vital, and longevity strongly favors Biggio (and most of the other Hall of Fame second basemen), but it can’t be understated how productive the 36-year-old has been when he is on the field.
He needs to have a strong comeback and find himself an extra 195 hits to eclipse the 2,000-hit plateau at the very least. However, even without that going for him, he has a very strong Hall of Fame case as one of the best two-way second basemen of all-time.