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Laser Show no more: Dustin Pedroia announces retirement

February 3, 2021
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Dustin Pedroia has been a part of our lives for a long time. But I think we all knew that the inevitable was coming. On Monday, he confirmed that his retirement from the Boston Red Sox, bringing to an end a stellar career, albeit one that ended far too soon due to unfortunate injury.

His comeback effort spanned years, and even a year ago, he was still pushing toward that goal. But the inevitable reality of his injury led him to finally – officially – say goodbye.

Pedroia ends his career with his name all over the Red Sox all-time lists:

His 1,805 hits are eighth in team history. His 922 runs scored sit tenth. He’s sixth all-time in both doubles with 394 and steals with 138. He sits seventh on the team’s WAR leaderboard with 51.6. He also hit 140 home runs and drove in 725 over the course of his 1,512 games. He sports a career slash line of .299/.365/.439.

Pedroia was the AL Rookie of the Year in 2007, slashing .317/.380/.442 with nearly 40 doubles and some solid defense. The next year, he was the AL MVP, leading the league in hits, runs scored and doubles, all while batting .326, hitting 17 homers and playing Gold Glove defense. All told, he won four Gold Gloves, and was named to four All-Star teams.

He also won two titles, in 2007 and 2013 (technically three: he got a ring in 2018, but he played in just three games that season). Moreover, he was one of the faces of the team, one of the players with whom the fans particularly connected. It’s hard not to root for the little guy, and with his relatively diminutive stature, he added yet another layer of relatability.

For the first decade or so of his time in the big leagues, Dustin Pedroia was on pace for an all-timer of a career. The type of career that might just end with a plaque in Cooperstown. From that rookie year of 2007 through a very good 2016 that saw him with 201 hits and 105 runs scored, with a .318 batting average, things were looking good.

Then, with one play, it all changed.

Early in the 2017 season, Pedroia was taken out at second base by a hard slide from then-Oriole Manny Machado. He continued to play for much of 2017 before the severity of the injury forced him to shut it down. Since then, he has had multiple procedures done on his left knee, but nothing has worked; Pedroia has played just nine games – three in 2018, six in 2019 – in three years.

Is he the best second baseman in the history of the franchise? Depends on who you ask. Plenty of people will say yes, and there’s definitely a case for Pedroia as the team’s top 2B. Me, I come down more on the Bobby Doerr side of things, but I’m not going to say you’re wrong. Besides, the mere fact that there’s a conversation about being the best-ever for a team with as lengthy a history as the Boston Red Sox is impressive.

It’s a rare thing, in these days of free agency and cost efficiency, to see a player play in one place his entire career. But in his 17 years of professional baseball, Dustin Pedroia was part of just one organization – the Boston Red Sox. For as much as sports fandom is cheering for laundry, there’s something to be said for getting the occasional lifer, a player who has a chance to become intertwined with a decade’s worth of fans. Generational players are thin on the ground and getting thinner, so it’s bittersweet to say goodbye to one.

Pedroia’s legacy is as one of the best players to ever don the Red Sox uniform, a player who might have stuck around long enough to make a run at Cooperstown if not for circumstance. Still, if your level of achievement is “only” being one of the best players in the history of a storied franchise, well … you’ve done pretty well.

Fare thee well, Laser Show. Enjoy the next chapter.

Last modified on Wednesday, 03 February 2021 08:44

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