By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Does Dustin Pedroia belong in the Baseball Hall of Fame? The former Red Sox second baseman will certainly make the ballot in five years’ time. Whether he actually gets into Cooperstown will make for a more interesting debate.
Anyone who wins an MVP award (as Pedroia did in 2008) and played an integral role in two World Series-winning teams will land on the Hall of Fame ballot. Nobody else on the 2021 ballot can even say they have both of those things on their resume. So Pedroia will get some votes.
But what may ultimately keep Pedroia out of Cooperstown is a relative lack of longevity. If you play at your peak at full health for less than a decade, you better be a transcendent talent. You better be Pedro Martinez or Sandy Koufax.
Pedroia wasn’t that, but in his prime (call it 2008-16) he was one of the best all-around second basemen in the game. He often built a case to be considered the best. He was a perfect No. 2 hitter and a relentlessly tough out, always making pitchers labor and grinding his way on base. He never struck out more than 85 times in a season.
As good of a hitter as Pedroia was, he was a even better fielder. He made up for a lack of high-end speed and range with elite hand-eye coordination and anticipation. His lightning-quick glove and throwing arm allowed him to make outs at a higher rate than other undersized infielders. Nobody got a perfect last-second throw off better than Pedroia, and that’s why he won four Gold Gloves in his career.
But this is certainly a stronger case for Pedroia to make the Red Sox Hall of Fame than the Baseball Hall of Fame, and he’s an obvious shoo-in for the former whenever he’s eligible. But the latter will likely hold Pedroia’s lack of volume stats against him.
Pedroia probably won’t get into the Hall of Fame for the same reason that Craig Biggio did and Adrian Beltre will. One may refer to Cooperstown pejoratively as the “Hall of Very Good” when players who were upper-echelon talents but not necessarily transcendent, like Biggio or Beltre, get in because they played at a high level for a long time and reached major milestones. If Pedroia had Biggio’s longevity, he’d have the stats and he’d probably be in.
But regardless of how you feel about the Hall’s recent voting or these particular players, this is the reality now. You need to either be a superior talent from your generation (and a clean one, of course!), or durable enough to get to 3,000 hits. Pedroia was neither, and that’s why he ultimately won’t get into Cooperstown.
Hell of a career, though. One worth celebrating in Boston. And at this point, Cooperstown would be a pleasant surprise.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff or send him a nasty email at email@example.com.