The Boston Red Sox second baseman has struggled through one of his worst power-hitting seasons.
Last season, his power outage could be explained. The gritty infielder battled through a thumb injury for most of the year, and it showed in the power department. His .415 slugging percentage in 2013 was the lowest in any season (minimum 100 plate appearances).
This season, the slide in production has continued. Entering Friday's action, Pedroia’s batting average (.265), on-base percentage (.338) and slugging percentage (.377) would all be career-worsts. This continued downturn comes in the first year of his 8-year, $110M extension that keeps him in Boston through 2021.
So, what specifically has been the issue for Pedroia? Let’s take a look.
Slugging It Out
Dustin Pedroia, Last 4 Seasons
While power is not Pedroia’s calling card, he’s lost nearly 100 points of slugging since 2011.
Additionally, Pedroia is putting fewer balls in the air, while seeing fewer of the balls he does hit in the air turn into home runs. His slugging percentage on fly balls has dropped from .630 from 2011-12 to .477 since the start of last season.
Can't Stay in the Zone
Dustin Pedroia vs. Pitches in the Zone, Last 4 Seasons
Pitchers are becoming increasingly comfortable pounding the strike zone against Pedroia. In fact, no batter has seen a higher rate of pitches in the strike zone this season than Pedroia (56.6 percent). That percentage is also the highest in Pedroia's last four seasons.
But Pedroia isn’t taking advantage of these pitches. His slugging percentage against pitches in the zone has also decreased each season since 2011, and fewer are turning into home runs.
Can't Catch Up
Dustin Pedroia vs. Fastballs, Last 4 Seasons
Not only is Pedroia seeing more pitches in the strike zone, but he’s also seeing more fastballs – and doing less with them.
With more of these fastballs also being thrown in the strike zone, it suggests pitchers are now challenging Pedroia to beat them.