Dustin Pedroia has long been a fan favorite in Red Sox Nation primarily because of his grit, hustle, enthusiasm, energy, and leadership... but Sox fans have turned a blind eye to his offensive struggles the past few years.
Last season, Pedroia's power numbers suffered as he battled with a torn ligament in his left thumb. And his aggressive style of defense has been taking a toll on his body year after year.
But while he's essentially been healthy this season, 2014 is shaping up as one of the worst seasons offensively for the Red Sox second baseman. The 30-year-old Pedroia has hit only four home runs in 306 at-bats while batting .268/.338/.382. His .721 OPS is the lowest number Pedroia has put up in the last eight seasons.
According to Justin Havens of ESPN Reasearch via Buster Olney: "Whether he's dealing with an injury yet again is unknown, but the slide in production has continued -- entering Monday's action, Pedroia's batting average (.265), on-base percentage (.336) and slugging percentage (.381) would all be career-worsts if the season ended today."
The ESPN report also notes that Pedroia is putting fewer balls in the air while seeing fewer of those balls turn into home runs. At the same time, Pedroia sees more pitches in the strike zone than any other hitter in baseball yet he's getting fewer inside pitches to pull.
In his MVP season in 2008, Pedroia put up a .326/.376/.493 line with 17 homers and 83 RBIs. In 2011, Pedroia put up career highs in homers (21) and RBIs (91) while batting .307.
Pedroia's top two current similar batters via Baseball Reference are former Red Sox infielder John Valentin and Todd Walker. Many thought he'd be on a par with the likes of Robinson Cano and Ian Kinsler-types at this point in his career.
Pedroia is signed through the 2021 season after agreeing to a seven-year, $100 million contract extension last July, with a full no-trade clause.