In a vacuum, Dustin Pedroia's season was pretty disappointing. We've gotten used to some real excellence from the second baseman in years past. In 2011 he was arguably Boston's third MVP candidate (fat lot of good that did them), and in 2008 he took the award outright. 4.5 fWAR or not, 2012 just wasn't Pedroia at his best, with his .290/.347/.449 slash line the worst of his career.
In the context of the team and its awfulness, however, Pedroia probably deserves some serious credit for even being half of his usual self. Not only that, but he actually had mitigating factors! Crazy, I know!
It's sad, but that's kind of what we've been reduced to when looking back at the 2012 season. Clay Buchholz was dealing with rust and the lingering effects of his back injury early on, Jon Lester just sucked. Jacoby Ellsbury had his shoulder popped out by Reid Brignac, Adrian Gonzalez just couldn't stop swinging at garbage pitches.
Dustin Pedroia falls into the Buchholz and Ellsbury category, playing through an injury when the team was at its worst, and while it probably wasn't for the best--he was pretty awful in that month--but at the very least he was doing the Pedroia thing. And, hell, if you remove that month from his year, even if he does have an unfortunately low number of games, his production in those games would probably look a whole lot better. In fact, he had an .800 OPS leading up to his injury, and a .880 OPS after returning from the disabled list. It's just that inbetween bit that makes it look bad.
With that in mind, we can consider Pedroia one of the few players we can really depend on heading into 2013. At 29 he isn't the young rookie he used to be, but he's hardly old yet and 2012 is certainly not the sign of an early decline. So long as he can stay healthy, 2013 should be another fine season from the man who has become one of the (two) faces of the franchise.