Boston Red Sox: What to expect from Dustin Pedroia in 2019

BOSTON, MA - MAY 29: Dustin Pedroia #15 of the Boston Red Sox looks on during the seventh inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park on May 29, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - MAY 29: Dustin Pedroia #15 of the Boston Red Sox looks on during the seventh inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park on May 29, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

After playing just three games in 2018, Dustin Pedroia is set to return to the Boston Red Sox in 2019. Here’s what Sox fans should expect from the former MVP.

It was easy to forget about Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia during the 2018 season.

The former MVP played just 3 games in 2018 before heading back to the DL for the remainder of the season due to left knee inflammation. Pedroia’s left knee has undergone two surgeries since the end of the 2017 season.

It’s safe to say Pedroia’s left knee will never be 100 percent again, but the 3-time World Series champion shouldn’t be counted out just yet. Manager Alex Cora has already made it known that Pedroia will be in the Red Sox Opening Day lineup hitting leadoff, but nobody should be certain about that.

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Dustin Pedroia is 35 years old and has played in more than 110 games just once over the last four seasons.

It appears as if the Red Sox are confident that Pedroia will return at some point early in the season. Ian Kinsler and Brandon Phillips are both no longer on the team, leaving Pedroia, Brock Holt, and Eduardo Nunez as the main second baseman on the 40-man roster.

Pedroia still has three years left on his 8-year contract. He will earn $15 million in 2019, $13 million in 2020, and $12 million in 2021.

Expected workload

Pedroia’s workload will obviously depend on his health and production. Pedroia has certainly had a lot of injury issues and it would be a surprise if Pedroia doesn’t end up on the injured list at some point during the season.

The good thing for Dustin Pedroia is that the Boston Red Sox have depth at his position. Although Pedroia will likely be the main second baseman for the Red Sox, Holt, Nunez, Marco Hernandez, and Tzu-Wei Lin all remain on the 40-man roster.

President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski told reporters recently that the plan is to play Pedroia in 120 to 125 games this season. This shows that the Red Sox have confidence that the veteran will return to his old self, but it all depends on how he performs on the field. If he stays healthy, playing in 125 games will certainly be possible.

What kind of production should we expect?

In 2016, his last healthy season, Pedroia enjoyed a solid season. The 4-time all-star played in 154 games, hitting .318 with 15 home runs and 74 RBIs. In 2017 Pedroia hit .293 with seven home runs and 62 RBIs in 105 games.

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Pedroia is certainly eager to get back onto the field after a frustrating 2018 for him. Alex Cora noted that the second baseman played an important role in the clubhouse throughout the 2018 World Series run.

On Monday, Pedroia faced live pitching for the first time since going back on the DL in May. In his first plate appearance, the 35-year-old dropped a single into right field.

Before arriving in Florida for Spring Training, Pedroia texted a video of himself to Alex Cora of him fielding ground balls in his full World Series uniform.

One thing the Red Sox have learned about Pedroia throughout his time in Boston is that he’s an absolute workhorse and should never be counted out. Many believe that Pedroia will never return to his old self due to his injury history, making this a big opportunity for the former MVP to prove his haters wrong once again.

My prediction for Pedroia is to appear in 125 games as Dombrowski suggested he would. This seems like a reasonable amount for the 35-year-old. My guess is that Pedroia will hit .280 this year with 10 homers and 60 RBIs. His former Gold Glove defense will likely take a dip as well due to his injuries and age.

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If Dustin Pedroia can produce these types of numbers, the Red Sox lineup will be in good shape. Red Sox second baseman combined for a -2.3 WAR in 2018, the second worst in the league. Pedroia will be a very important part to the Red Sox 2019 season and fans should be looking forward to having the team’s heart and soul back in the lineup.