Check out this stat line. Typical, even vintage, Dustin Pedroia season we’re looking at here, no?
Actually, the answer is no. I suppose the headline undermines any potential ah-ha moment here, but it’s not a Pedroia season at all.
Those are Brock Holt’s numbers during his dizzying breakthrough season.
During a Red Sox season in which playoff contention has only appeared in quickly snuffed-out flickers — after this disappointing Toronto series, it’s OK to pronounce the Sox finished yet again, right? — Holt has been one of the few fun sidebars to the lethargic and unlucky post-championship season.
Not only is Holt having a superior season to Pedroia, a justifiably beloved mainstay who is mysteriously putting up these subpar offensive numbers in ’14 …
… but Holt, who is technically a rookie despite compiling 72 plate-appearance in each of the previous two seasons, is actually performing at a level strikingly similar to Pedroia’s rookie season of 2007:
Check out the similarities in the AVG/OBP/SLG slash line between Holt now and Pedroia then.
Pedroia was younger — he was in his age-23 season, while Holt is 26 — but the seasons really are quite alike.
So what does this mean? I’m not sure we can draw any big-picture conclusions, though I consider Holt’s ongoing excellence and Pedroia’s mediocre bummer of a season — and that’s what it is despite him leading Red Sox regulars in baseball-reference’s version of WAR — evidence that the former somehow figured a way to steal the latter’s powers.
But we can draw smaller conclusions, starting with this one: Those of us who compared Holt to Pedro Ciriaco — a small-sample size superstar who would regress with exposure — are desperately trying to distance ourselves from such comments now.
I’m still not sure Holt’s typical season will look much different than the one Pedroia is enduring now, with that .700-ish OPS. But he’s obviously a useful, versatile major league player who seized his chance and then some.
And maybe what he’s doing this season will be more sustainable in the long-term than I believe. I’ll gladly make a habit out of being wrong about the kid if he wants to keep playing like this.
At the very least, he belongs.
I will stick with another comp I made earlier this season — I think ultimately he’ll be pretty close to the steady player Bill Mueller was for the first 5-6 years of his career, before he came to Boston and turned into something else entirely.
I do wonder, if this season continues to spiral south and the yard-sale begins in earnest soon, whether Pedroia will acknowledge that something is wrong physically.
I almost hope that happens. Not that I’m wishing injury on one of the most admirable players the Red Sox have had in my lifetime, but it would be an explanation for why Pedroia, whose career batting average has dipped below .300 for the first time in years, hasn’t been himself this season.
The other chief alternative — that his relentless, even reckless, style of play has sapped some of his ability, especially from a power perspective — is one that no one wants to consider now.
If the season is lost, there’s no reason for him to play on if he isn’t right. Get whatever is hypothetically ailing him fixed, and get right for 2015.
Besides, it would give Holt the chance to play his natural position, which he kind of deserves to do at this point. The Cesar Tovar imitation must be exhausting.
Now, Holt is not going to turn Pedroia into Wally Pipp. But it sure is reasonable to believe he’d continue to do a spot-on imitation of Pedroia in his absence, if it comes to that.
And who would have ever thought that before this weird season began?