Close your eyes, Boston Red Sox fans, and picture Dustin Pedroia. Not the guy who fought through injuries the last two seasons as his power plummeted, but the old Pedroia. The MVP Pedroia.

Stick that guy into the mix, and suddenly the Red Sox’s big offseason acquisitions—Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval—look like second fiddles. And suddenly the Sox look like bona fide contenders in the wide-open American League East.

With the usual spring disclaimers, there’s reason to hope.

Pedroia had wrist surgery in September after undergoing a thumb procedure in November 2013. This spring, he says, he’s finally himself again.

“I feel normal,” he told WEEI‘s Rob Bradford. “I can tell just picking up a bat my hand strength is back. That’s the most important part to me. When you grab a bat, how does it feel? Can you manipulate where you want to hit the ball? It’s all back.”

Want more evidence of Pedroia’s renewed confidence? How about this, per NESN’s Ricky Doyle:

Yes, the exhibition season is bursting at the seams with these “best shape of his life” stories, and many of them evaporate in the heat of summer.

So far, though, Pedroia’s bat is doing some serious talking of its own. The second baseman has collected nine hits in 25 Grapefruit League at-bats, including a grand slam.

“The ability to pull his hands in on a swing that he hit out of the ballpark, that’s a swing that I think we’ve all seen in the past from Pedey,” skipper John Farrell said after Pedroia’s bases-clearing big fly, per Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald. “But the number of nagging things he’s dealt with, it’s limited him the last couple years.”

Even with the injuries, Pedroia has been productive. He hit .301 in 2013 and helped Boston win another championship, and last year he collected his fourth Gold Glove.

But his slugging percentage has fallen precipitously, to .415 in 2013 and to .376 a season ago, and he managed just 16 home runs in the two campaigns combined.

Compare that to 2011, when he smacked 21 home runs to go along with 91 RBI. A return to that kind of pop, or something close to it, would turn this already dangerous Boston lineup into a legitimate World Series contender.

Ramirez and Sandoval are the cavalry, the hired guns. And David Ortiz keeps defying Father Time with 30-homer, 100-RBI efforts.

But none of them, even at their peaks, have matched the 7.9 WAR Pedroia posted in that monster 2011 season.

OK, now the inevitable wet-blanket counterpoint: Pedroia turns 32 in August, an age that often portends a downslide. Expecting him to revert to the height of his powers is probably a tad unreasonable, even if we guzzle the sweet spring Kool-Aid.

The projection systems aren’t exactly bullish. ZiPS foresees a .278/.340/.392 slash line with 10 home runs, per FanGraphs. That’s a slight uptick from last year. Add the defense and you’ve still got a valuable player—just not most valuable.

But come on, it’s March. A time for optimism! Let’s split the difference and say Pedroia bumps up to his 2012 production15 home runs, .449 slugging percentage, something like that. You’d take it, right? Boston certainly would.

Pedroia, naturally, downplays the power chatter and emphasizes the Red Sox’s quest to climb back onto the October stage. Last-place finishes don’t sit well in Beantown.

“I don’t care. Numbers are numbers,” Pedroia told Bradford. “We’re here to win the World Series.”

Sure, who isn’t? Then again, Pedroia playing like vintage Pedroia and Boston hoisting another Commissioner’s Trophy aren’t mutually exclusive.

Close your eyes, Boston fans, and picture it. It looks pretty, right?


All statistics courtesy of

Read more MLB news on