When the Red Sox traded for Ian Kinsler, they were filling the void that the Dustin Pedroia injury has left in both the infield as well as in the lineup. What’s amazing is that they got a guy who has had such a similar career, as these two players who both have a nonzero chance to make the Baseball Hall of Fame. Kinsler just turned 36 years old and Pedroia is about to turn 35. Slightly more than a year separates the two by age and by fWAR they are separated by just 0.4 wins over their careers. They have accomplished great things, albeit in slightly different ways, and while I believe Pedroia has been the better player, we sure are lucky to have Kinsler.
Ian Kinsler v. Dustin Pedroia
|Career Stats||Ian Kinsler||Dustin Pedroia|
|Career Stats||Ian Kinsler||Dustin Pedroia|
As you can see from the chart above Kinsler has Pedroia in the counting stats category, largely due to his having played in 259 more games. Although both came up in 2006 Pedroia did not play his first game until August 22nd of that year. Kinsler has also been the healthier player. Stylistically the two are different as well, Pedroia is more of a doubles hitter with 394 for his career vs 398 in far more games for Kinsler.
What Kinsler has excelled in his whole career is uncommon power at the keystone and several years over 30 stolen bases. His best season came in 2011 where he hit 32 home runs and stole 30 bases while accumulating 7.2 fWAR. It just so happens that 2011 was also Pedroia’s best year by fWAR where he accumulated 7.8 wins above replacement. Pedroia hit 21 homers while stealing 26 bases. How was Pedroia worth more? His slash line and defense have always put him just a little bit ahead of Kinsler.
For his career Pedroia is slashing .300/.366/.440 vs .272/.340/.445 for Kinsler. While Kinsler carries the edge in the counting stats and power numbers, wRC+ likes Pedroia better on a per at bat basis with a career mark of 116 vs 109 for Kinsler. On the defensive end DEF — which accounts for position value — likes Pedroia far more over the course of his career with a mark of 107.7 vs 59.2 for Kinsler. This isn’t to take anything away from Kinsler, who has won a Gold Glove and flashed impressive leather throughout his career, it’s simply that Pedroia is a sublime fielder. Pedey has the hardware to prove it with four Gold Gloves and one Wilson Overall Defensive Player of the Year Award.
Kinsler would be the first to tell you that Pedroia is the better defender. After all we are talking about the guy who transferred from Arizona State to Missouri because some young freshman named Pedroia took his spot at short stop. While both players are remarkable in their ability to not strikeout and to take walks, it’s Pedroia who has been slightly better in both areas. It’s worth noting that since 2006 only Robinson Cano and Chase Utley have been better than these two by fWAR. That may have been a golden era for second basemen.
When you look at awards Pedroia really starts to pull away from Kinsler. I already mentioned Pedroia’s edge in defensive awards, but its overall awards where he shines. Pedroia captured the 2007 Rookie of the Year award en route to a World Series victory. In 2008, to follow up his ROY award all he did was capture the AL MVP. Pedroia has also won a silver slugger at second base, something Kinsler is yet to accomplish. Both players have appeared in four All-Star games.
As far as intangibles go, both players have them in spades. Several players on this current Red Sox team had a chance to play with Kinsler while he was either in Texas or with Detroit and every one of them raves about him as a teammate. Pedroia has long been known for his work ethic and his dedication as a teammate and has followed Trot Nixon as the resident “dirt dog” on the team. When it comes to nicknames Kisler gets blown out of the water. Former manager Ron Washington gave Kinsler the nickname “Bootsie” because he once wore a walking boot when he was injured. Lame. Pedroia meanwhile is called both “Laser Show” and the “Muddy Chicken” both don’t need any explanation if you are a self-respecting Red Sox fan.
How do both of these guys compare to Bobby Doerr the retired #1 out on the right field porch of Fenway? Pretty damn well if I do say so myself. Doerr was a nine time All-Star, besting both Pedey and Kinsler if they were to combine their appearances. He also happens to already be in the Hall of Fame, but if you look at JAWS, the Hall of Fame projection system developed by Jay Jaffe, both Pedey and Kinsler are actually better. The average Hall of Fame second baseman comes in at 69.5 bWAR. Doerr finished his career at 51.2 while Pedroia is at 52.1 and Kinsler is at 57.4 right now. To be fair to Doerr his career only lasted until age 33 due to a back injury.
Pedroia has a chance to be the best second baseman in Red Sox history, a title currently held by Doerr, if he can get healthy and continue his career next year. I also believe that Pedroia has a better shot at the Hall of Fame than Kinsler due to his ROY, MVP, and two World Series Championships. His resume is simply sexier. Pedroia had a slightly better peak than Kinsler did as well. Right now though, Pedey hasn’t done enough to pass Doerr as the best at the keystone in Red Sox history. Doerr also missed the 1945 season where he was 27 years old because he was fighting in World War II.
What is remarkable is that as Red Sox fans we have had the luxury having two players in franchise history at second base as accomplished as Pedroia and Doerr are. And in the one season we don’t get to see Pedroia, we get another potential Hall of Famer in Kinsler. What Kinsler will bring to the team is exactly the type of winning baseball that Pedroia would bring and he will surely contribute to the current success of the 2018 Red Sox.