It’s been a frustrating season thus far for Dustin Pedroia. After spending time this offseason rehabbing from foot surgery, he promptly hurt his ankle in late April and then again in late May. On top of that — and his .247 AVG — Pedroia has apparently been dealing with a knee injury since May 16th. He injured the knee on a dive against the Orioles, but hadn’t made the injury public until now.
Despite the injuries and despite a his struggles at the plate, Pedroia is still doing a good job of getting on base. He has a walk rate over 14 percent and an OBP over .350 despite a .247 AVG. While his strikeout rate is up a bit, it’s certainly not crazy high. However, Pedroia’s lack of power has been a real surprise, especially after hitting 12 home runs in only 302 at-bats last season and posting a career high .205 ISO. Heading into last night’s game, Pedroia had slugged only .338 with an extremely low 0.92 ISO.
Legs are extremely important to hitting. They provide not only an athletic base, but momentum and power through the ball (the pivot and hip turn). This current injury is to his right knee; the knee that turns violently along with the pivot foot. Most hitters put the majority of their pre-swing weight on their back leg, especially during the stride when the front foot is lifted from the ground. Imagine having a hurt knee and putting a good amount of your upper body weight on that knee several times per day: Batting practice, swings in the on-deck circle and then game action. And that’s just hitting. Pedroia still has to run and play defense too.
That being said, Pedroia hasn’t completely lacked power of late. He has two home runs and six total extra base hits in the 19 games since he apparently injured his knee. He had seven extra base hits in all of his games played before the injury.
While the ankle injuries and this knee injury can perhaps account for some of Pedroia’s struggles at the plate, we can’t blame all of his struggles on injuries. Pedroia is, in fact, on pace to set a career high in stolen bases, so his legs have been good enough to run all-out quite often. Also, though the sample size is small, he has posted a 6.2 UZR on defense so far this season, promoting that his range has been well above average.
Pedroia may be playing hurt, but he’s also just plain struggling to find his swing. Injuries alone don’t cause a player to chase pitches outside the strike-zone, something that Pedroia has done too often this season (31.4 percent chase rate).
We’ll have to wait and see what news comes out about his knee, but a little rest wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world for Pedroia — though he’s just about the last player in the world that wants to ever sit out a game. Jed Lowrie could fill in at second — the MRI on his injured shoulder came back negative — and in a worst case scenario Jose Iglesias could be promoted from triple-A and provide terrific defense.
Pedroia needs to get healthy. He needs to clear his head. He needs to relax and let the game come to him. Once he does, the laser show starts. Get your tickets now.