By Bill Chuck
Special to CSNNE.com
Dustin Pedroia has a new nickname. In the wee hours of the morning, after the Red Sox defeated the Rays 1-0 in 16 innings, Josh Beckett (who pitched brilliantly) said, "The Muddy Chicken is definitely the player of the game."
Watch as soon the nickname will go viral. You will hear him called that tonight when you watch the game, you will see it in print, there will be signs at Fenway, t-shirts sold on the street, bobble-head dolls created, and restaurant entrees named for him.
And Beckett added, "He got it done when we absolutely needed it."
But doesnt the Muddy Chicken do that more than any player on the team?
Think about this: In the five hour and 44 minute marathon last night, the Rays were 3-for-50, the rest of the Red Sox were 2-for-45, and Pedroia was 3-for-7 (and he was robbed on a great play by B.J. Upton in the 15th).
Around this time of the year in 2008 (622 to 79), the player formerly known as the Laser Show, had a career high 17-game hitting streak in which he hit .474 (36-for-76). He had a 16-game streak in 2009 and hit .375 (24-for-64).
Last night, Pedroia extended his current hitting streak to 15 games. He is hitting .384 (25-for-65) during the streak, and doing it with power. He has seven homers during this stretch after hitting just three in each of his two previous longest runs.
Since June 15 he has reached base safely in 27 straight games, the longest active streak in the majors. Over that time, hes scored 26 runs and driven in 19. In 129 plate appearances, hes struck out only nine times.
Not coincidentally, since June 9, when Dustin Pedroia had his knee scoped, he has hit .378 (48-for-127) with nine homers, slugged .701, and had an OPS of 1.171. Hes hit .463 against lefties since that date. Not only that, he has walked in 15.2 of his plate appearances. Since June 9, hes hit .409 with runners in scoring position.
To show you how good the Muddy Chicken has been, during that time period, hes hit .333 when the count is 0-2 and .386 when hes had two strikes on him at any point in the count. In his last 151 plates appearances, hes struck out just 11 times while in the 153 plate appearances prior to that (May 2 to June 8), he hit .233 with two homers and 21 strikeouts.
Pedey is now hitting .293. Like Youk and Jacoby Ellsbury hes hit 13 homers and his 47 RBI are nearly as many as Jarrod Saltalamacchia (24) and J.D. Drew (24) combined.
Hes such an integral key to the Sox success. In 55 winning games, hes hit .332 and scored 50 runs. In 35 losses hes hit .225 and scored just 12 times.
There are only six infielders in the majors who are in double figures in homers and stolen bases (Pedroia has 17 steals) and none has as high a batting average as Pedroia. Oh yeah, when it comes to fielding, he has a Zone Rating of 5.489, second only Ben Zobrist. And his Total Zone fielding is 10 total fielding runs above average, the best number of any second baseman in baseball.
As I look at Boston's roster, I see Pedroia as the player most likely to be a Sox-lifer. Hes the guy I anticipate inheriting the C when Tek retires as captain. By the time he is done, he will be the Red Sox equivalent of Derek Jeter, although he has already surpassed the Yankee captain by winning the 2008 MVP. Jeter has never been an MVP, finishing second once, and third twice.
Last night after the game, Big Papi said, "Just put it down in the newspaper, I wouldn't trade Pedey for nobody in this league right now."
Hell be even happier when he hears we put it down in Nation STATion.
Gotta love that Muddy Chicken, ahhh Pedey, youre the one.