Pedroia and the record books

Pedroia and the record books
July 25, 2013, 2:45 pm
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Dustin Pedroia will be 38 years old by the time his new contract extension expires, which means the second baseman could face some tough final years in Boston if the aging process hits him hard.

(USA Today Sports)

There’s one aspect of Dustin Pedroia’s new eight-year/$110M extension with the Sox that I didn’t get chance to touch on in yesterday’s column, but thanks to the glory of the Internet and the United States of America I’m going to do it now:

Dustin Pedroia and the Red Sox record books

As I mentioned yesterday, Pedroia’s new deal puts him on track to play 16 seasons with the Sox. And assuming he plays out the extent of his contract, those 16 seasons would leave Pedroia tied with Jim Rice for the third longest tenure of any position player in franchise history, trailing only Ted Williams and Dwight Evans, who played 19 years a piece, and Carl Yastrzemski who was with the Sox for a remarkable 23 seasons.

Given that, combined with Pedroia’s impressive past, present and potential future production, it’s fair to assume that by the time he’s done, the Pedroia name will be littered throughout the Red Sox record books alongside some of the most recognizable names in baseball history. Before long, this will feel like a redux of what we all just went through with Paul Pierce, where every time you look up, Pedroia will be eclipsing another career plateau and/or leap-frogging another Boston sports legend. But until then, there’s only potential and promise. There’s only this:

As it stands now, Pedroia ranks 22nd in Red Sox history with 1146 career hits. Looking at some of the biggest names within his reach, Pedroia trails Mo Vaughn (21st all time) by only 19 hits, he trails Manny Ramirez (19th) by 86 hits and Nomar Garciaparra (16th) by 135. If Pedroia can pick up a mere (for him) 200 hits between now and the end of next season, he’ll also pass Jason Varitek, Hall of Famer Tris Speaker and Billy Goodman for 13th all-time, and will trail Rico Petrocelli by only six hits for 12th place.

Where does Pedroia go from there? Well, this obviously* depends entirely on his health (*very, very obviously. But come on. This is fun. Don’t be a buzz kill), but as of today, Pedroia trails Wade Boggs by 952 hits for No.5 spot on the Sox all-time list. So far in 2013, Pedroia has 121 hits over 102 games, which equals 1.187 hits a game. The Sox have 59 games left on the season, and if we play it safe and say Pedroia appears in 55, that projects to 65 more hits this year, and will leave him 887 shy of Boggs.

Break that down and he needs to average approximately 110 hits a year over the course of his extension to catch the Chicken Man, which means that it will be a huge disappointment if he doesn’t.

Not that he’s known for his speed, and certainly that’s one part his game that we can expect to diminish with age, but Pedroia’s currently eighth in franchise history with 116 career stolen bases. Do you think he has another 53 steals in him over these next eight-plus seasons? I think that’s a fair number. If so, Pedroia will pass Yaz (168) for fourth on the all-time list.

As we speak, Pedroia is tied with Joe Cronin for 12th place on the Sox all time doubles list with 270. He’s averaged 40 doubles a year over the last six years, and is on pace for 38 this season. For the sake of digression, let’s say that Pedroia averages 31 doubles a year over the course of the next eight. That would give him 531 career doubles and leave him in second place behind only Yaz.

Runs? Pedroia’s currently 23rd with 618, and should pass Carlton Fisk, Mo Vaughn, Frank Malzone and Joe Cronin before this season’s done. He’s averaged 92.5 runs a game over his last six seasons. Again, let’s play it safe and say he averages 75 a year over the next eight. Even that modest estimate puts him in position to pass Jim Rice for fourth all-time.

And . . . OK. Let’s shut it down for now. There’s no point in getting too far ahead of ourselves; no one wants to wish away the experience of actually watching Pedroia pile up these premium stats. That’s the whole point.

But the all time accolades that are at the very least within his reach (Top 5 in hits, runs, doubles and stolen bases), along with everything else that he has and will bring to the table, is just another reason to feel good about the events of this past week and feel even better about the future.