Without a doubt, Dustin Pedroia is the Red Sox's best hitter through April this season. Since offensive production has been scarce at times, having Pedroia batting well in the two-hole and put up solid numbers -- six home runs, 18 RBI, .302 batting average -- has been huge.
But the Pedroia you're seeing this season isn't the same ol' guy you're used to. He's different. How different? Well, let's take a look at what he's actually doing.Pedroia's six home runs in April is impressive -- and it's something he certainly can do from time to time -- but it's not just a random flux of production. Pedroia, as far as April is concerned, is a different hitter.
For starters, let's just look at what Pedroia is doing at the plate on the season:
Those numbers don't mean too much unless you look at what he's done over his career in those categories:
Everything, at this point on May 1, is a career-low for Pedroia.
It seems that Pedroia is making some sacrifices when he's at the dish. He's not walking as much because he's swinging at more pitches. Those pitches, at this point in the season, have turned into home runs. But they have also turned into strikeouts. This all makes perfect sense, correct?
So why has Pedroia made this switch? It could just be because of a small sample size because we need to remember it has just been one month. Or it could just be Pedroia making an adjustment he felt he needed to make. Or, what I think is the most likely answer, is that he has some crazy bet with one of his teammates that he can hit 50 home runs in a season and he's going to try his damndest. Don't doubt Pedroia -- he could probably pull it off.
Pedroia is on pace to strike out more than he walks this season (7 walks, 13 strikeouts). This is significant because Pedroia has only done that once in a season. That came in 2008 -- his MVP season -- when he walked 50 times and struck out 52 times. Not a huge difference. For the average hitter, that'd be amazing. For Pedroia, that is subpar considering he had 29 more walks than strikeouts last season.
As far as 23 games is concerned, Pedroia's 2010 campaign is actually starting to look a lot like his MVP season in 2008 -- at least in terms of his plate discipline. Overall, Pedroia is swinging at 44.6 percent of pitches this season. That number sat at 45.2 in 2008, but dropped significantly to 39.7 percent last year.
So maybe we aren't seeing a different Dustin Pedroia. Maybe the power burst has just made us think that way. After looking deeper at the stats, it seems like 2009 was really the outlier and Pedroia is returning to his norm -- the MVP season.
Odds are good Pedroia's power is going to drop off. And the odds also lean toward him walking more and striking out less. Regardless, this Pedroia is a damn good player -- the same one we've been watching for four years now.