At this time of the baseball season a fair bit of discussion revolves around the All-Star Game. Generally I could care less about the ASG, and would rather have the players on the team I root for rest than play in a mostly meaningless game. However I have noticed a repeated snubbing of Pedroia when it comes to discussion of 2b. This is not just from the mainstream press and fans but also from the SABR community as well. For the mainstream press we have guys like Kevin Lyttle call Robinson Cano a "no-brainer," while today's New York Times has an article by Tyler Kepner listing Cano followed by Kendrick and Zobrist (all having excellent seasons) as AL second base players. On the SABR side, we have Dave Cameron leaving Pedroia off the list due to "health concerns" (odd-given that he has played all season) while Justin Inaz of the Hardball Times basically does the same (without the odd explanation). To be fair to the last two authors-their articles (in particular Dave's) were a bit of time ago. Do the numbers back up this viewpoint?
In case you didn't notice, Pedroia got off to a slow offensive start. His ISO was markedly down, and while he continued to get on base at an excellent rate, his K-rate was up. Concerns about playing with a screw in his foot (perhaps the issue Dave Cameron was mentioning) seemed well founded. However recently Pedroia has started to do positive things at the plate other than hit singles and walk. Pedroia's wOBA now stands at 0.364 (wRC+ of 127) and while his ISO is not close to what it was last year, it has inched up and now surpasses at least his 2007 rookie season. Before last season a promenent member of Pinstripe Alley complained that Pedroia was vastly overrated due to his inability to hit on the road. But in the last 2 years this has not been the case at all. Last year before going down Pedroia posted a road wOBA of 0.393 while this year his road wOBA is 0.371. Both obviously above his home numbers. Currently Pedroia's wOBA is only a shade under Cano's (0.369) overall. Of course defense is a different story altogether.
Looking at Fangraphs WAR (first number) and BR.com WAR (second number) here are the 4 mentioned 2b:
Several things are clear from looking at these numbers. First, obviously Pedroia deserves to be in the conversation. In fact, he has the highest average WAR among the 4. Secondly, it is clear that Cano not only is not a "no-brainer" he doesn't even belong in the conversation despite having a strong first half. in looking at his numbers we see a return of the average to below-average fielder who never takes a walk that we saw before 2010.
In all-it is rather shocking how all sides of the baseball discussion have assumed that Robinson Cano is the clear and obvious choice for 2b, when Kendrick, Zobrist and Pedroia are all superior so far this year. In the case of Pedroia and Zobrist, it is not even close. I guess the media is not nearly as biased towards the Red Sox as Yankee fans like to whine about.