Stats & Info: Dustin Pedroia

Top stats to know: Blue Jays at Red Sox

July, 28, 2014

Hannah Foslien/Getty ImagesKnuckleballer R.A. Dickey looks to improve to 3-0 this year vs. the Red Sox.
The Toronto Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox open a three-game series tonight at Fenway Park (7 ET on ESPN/WatchESPN). The Blue Jays have won seven of the 10 matchups so far this season, including three of four last week in Toronto.

After beating the St. Louis Cardinals on June 6, the Blue Jays led the AL East by six games over the second-place New York Yankees and by 6½ games over the third-place Baltimore Orioles.

However, since June 7, the Blue Jays are 18-26 -- the third-worst record in the American League in that span -- and are now three games behind the Orioles for first place in the division.

Toronto hasn’t been to the playoffs since it won the World Series in 1993. Only the Kansas City Royals have gone longer without a postseason appearance.

One player who can help the Blue Jays break their postseason drought is JosÚ Bautista. In 2010, Bautista had a breakout year, hitting a major league-best 54 home runs.

Since the start of that year, Bautista’s 172 home runs are tied with Miguel Cabrera for the most in baseball.

Another player who has been a key cog in the Blue Jays' success is JosÚ Reyes, who has been aggressive this season, swinging at 47 percent of the pitches he sees. That’s his highest swing rate in the past six seasons.

Reyes is a tough batter to put away, even in an 0-2 count. From the start of the 2012 season on his .302 batting average in such a count over that time span is the highest in MLB.

As for the defending world champion Red Sox, they are in last place in the AL East. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the 1998 Florida Marlins are the only team to finish last in the division or the league the year after winning the World Series.

Boston also finished last in the AL East in 2012. No team has ever finished in last place one year, won the World Series the next year, and then finished last the next year.

Dustin Pedroia has been struggling for the Red Sox; his batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage are all at career-worst levels.

Meanwhile, teams have used an infield shift on more than 8,800 balls in play this season, already more than all of last season (8,134), and David Ortiz has seen his fair share of shifts. The shift has certainly had an effect on him this season.

•  He’s hitting .157 on ground balls and soft line drives against the shift this season.
•  He’s hitting .333 on similar batted balls when there is no shift.
•  Only three hitters (minimum 125 PAs against the shift) have a larger difference in batting average on grounders and soft liners without the shift vs. against the shift.
•  His BABIP is .241 this season (his BABIP was .318 overall the previous four seasons).

Pitching Notes
• R.A. Dickey went 0-2 with an 8.53 ERA against the Red Sox last season. This year, he’s 2-0 with a 3.65 ERA.

•  Dustin Pedroia is hitting .167 (3-for-18) in his career against Dickey, including 1-for-his-past-12.

•  Clay Buchholz has allowed at least four earned runs in seven of his past 10 starts. Of course, in the middle of that, he threw a three-hit shutout against the Houston Astros with 12 strikeouts and no walks.

Top stats to know: Red Sox-Yankees

June, 29, 2014
Tonight features the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees squaring off on "Sunday Night Baseball" (8 ET, ESPN/WatchESPN) in the rubber game of a three-game series.

Here are some things our broadcast crew will be talking about as John Lackey takes the hill for Boston against Chase Whitley.

Life in the fast lane
Lackey's fastball will likely be the key for him tonight, as he has relied on his heater considerably more often since missing the entire 2012 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

In 2011, Lackey turned to his fastball 49 percent of the time while using his curve on about 18 percent of pitches. A season ago, after returning from his elbow injury, his fastball usage was up to 57 percent, and this year it's at 66 percent while he turns to his curveball only 11 percent of the time.

No matter what he's using in his arsenal, Lackey has found the zone often this season. Overall, his strike percentage of 69 percent is third highest in the majors, behind only Phil Hughes and David Price.

Which Whitley?
Whitley will look to get back on track for the Yankees. Through his first seven career starts, Whitley was 3-0 with a 2.56 ERA. He had allowed three earned runs or fewer in all seven starts, but his eighth start had no resemblance, as he allowed eight earned runs.

The difference was line drives. His ground-ball percentage remained nearly identical (43 percent in his first seven starts compared to 42 percent in his eighth start), but what were fly balls in his first seven starts became line drives in the eighth. He allowed eight of them in his loss to the Blue Jays, seven of which went for base hits.

Fresh face
Tonight will feature the major league debut of Mookie Betts, who will potentially be in right field for Boston. Betts has carved up the minors this season with both Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket. He batted .355 in 54 games with Portland and .322 in 23 games with Pawtucket, and the table to the right shows just how successful he's been at getting on base.

He looks to provide a boost to a Boston team that has been struggling on offense lately. Since the start of June, the Red Sox have managed a .295 on-base percentage, better than only three teams in the majors.

Dustin's decline
While power hitting is not his calling card, Dustin Pedroia's slugging percentage has fallen off for the fourth consecutive year, sitting at just .377 this season (it was .493 in 2010). Pedroia simply hasn't been able to produce fly balls as he once did; only 28 percent of his batted balls have been classified as fly balls this season, down from 38 percent in 2012.

Pitchers have taken notice of Pedroia's diminished power and are challenging him more often. Of all the pitches Pedroia has seen this season, 57 percent have been located inside the strike zone, the highest rate of any hitter in baseball. Pitchers are throwing him fastballs 60 percent of the time, which is more often than all but 13 hitters this season.

Overall, Pedroia has slugged .365 in at-bats ending with fastballs this season, down from a .530 rate from 2010 to 2013.

Pedroia's Power Outage Continues in 2014

June, 27, 2014

The Boston Red Sox second baseman has struggled through one of his worst power-hitting seasons.
As the Boston Red Sox travel to New York to make up ground on its AL East rival, Dustin Pedroia looks to right the ship on what has been one of the worst offensive seasons of his career.

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

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

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

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.

Top stats to know: Orioles at Red Sox

April, 20, 2014
The Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox face off on "Sunday Night Baseball" at 7 p.m. ET in a matchup of veteran pitchers. Here are some of the stats our broadcast crew will be focusing on tonight:

Ubaldo Jimenez struggling
Jimenez has had his issues against the American League East teams, no more so than the Red Sox. He is 1-3 with a 10.27 ERA in five starts against them (also 1-4 with a 6.67 ERA against the New York Yankees).

The only active pitcher who has made at least five starts with a worse ERA against the Red Sox is Rick Porcello (10.42).

Jimenez closed 2013 with an AL-best 1.82 ERA after the All-Star break, even with a fastball that has dropped nearly 6 mph over the last four seasons to its current 90.3 average.

He has been battered around a bit in his first three starts. Opponents are hitting .348 and slugging .576 against him, and his ERA/WHIP combo stands at 7.31/2.06.

Peavy off to solid start
In contrast to Jimenez, Red Sox starter Jake Peavy has a 1.93 ERA and .179 opponents’ batting average through three starts. Hitters are 12-for-67 against him this season.

Jake Peavy
Peavy appears to have made two key adjustments to his approach over the past few years: throw more strikes early and increase the frequency with which he’s pitching batters inside.

His first-pitch strike rate has climbed by year from 57.7 percent (2010) to 66.7 percent in 2013, though it’s dipped to 55.1 percent this season.

He is 2-0 with a 3.15 ERA in three starts against the Orioles, with a 23-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio and zero homers allowed in 20 innings.

Red Sox situational struggles
The Red Sox are hitting .223 with runners on base and .207 with runners in scoring position, which ranked 25th and 26th in the majors entering the day.

The hitters struggling the most are a couple of the younger ones; Daniel Nava and Xander Bogaerts are a combined 4-for-43.

Red Sox hitter to watch: Dustin Pedroia
Pedroia is hitting .250 this season but has been better the last couple of days since getting a clean bill of health. He is 5-for-17 with four walks and five runs scored in his last four games.

Opposing pitchers have taken to pounding Pedroia with fastballs until he proves he can hurt them this season. He has seen a fastball or some variant 66 percent of the time this season, compared to 57 percent in 2013.

Chris Davis
Orioles hitter to watch: Chris Davis
Davis hit 53 home runs for the Orioles last season but has only one in his first 16 games in 2014.

The flaw in Davis’ game has been an inability to hit pitches in the upper half of the strike zone.

Last season, Davis hit 15 home runs against pitches to that area. This season, he has only one hit against the 100 pitches he’s seen (54 against 1,071 pitches in 2013).

Top stats to know: 2013 Gold Glove Awards

October, 29, 2013

USA TODAY Sports/Getty ImagesYadier Molina and Dustin Pedroia have Gold Gloves to go along with a World Series appearance.

The Gold Glove Awards were announced on Tuesday, with this year’s field featuring a nearly even mix of first-time honorees and repeat winners.

For the first time, a statistical component factored into the voting -- the SABR Defensive Index accounted for 25 percent of the vote. The remaining votes came from major league managers and coaches.

Royals, Orioles take home the most Gold
The Royals and Orioles each won three Gold Glove Awards. First-time winners Salvador Perez and Eric Hosmer joined Royals left fielder Alex Gordon, who won his third straight.

Manny Machado, who led the majors in Web Gems at third base, joined repeat winners J.J. Hardy at shortstop and Adam Jones at center field for the Orioles.

With a statistical component comprising part of this year’s vote, Jones wasn’t necessarily expected to win this year. He was the only Gold Glove winner with a negative defensive runs saved total for the season, but he passed the eye test, garnering enough votes to beat out Lorenzo Cain of the Royals and Jacoby Ellsbury of the Red Sox.

Another one for Molina
Yadier Molina became the fourth catcher to win six straight Gold Gloves, joining Ivan Rodriguez (13), Johnny Bench (10), Bob Boone (7) and Jim Sundberg (6).

Molina’s current streak is the best for an NL catcher since Bench won 10 in a row from 1968 to 1977.

Molina’s teammate, pitcher Adam Wainwright, won his second Gold Glove. They are the second pitcher-catcher combo to win the Gold Glove together more than once. The other is Kenny Rogers and Rodriguez, who won as teammates in 2000 and 2006.

Victorino, Phillips win again
Red Sox right fielder Shane Victorino and Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips each won their fourth Gold Gloves.

Victorino, who had won three previous times with the Phillies as a center fielder, joined second baseman Dustin Pedroia as Red Sox winners. Victorino finished with a major league-best 23 defensive runs saved in right field, the highest total in any season in his career.

Phillips has won the award four times in six seasons. His four wins are one shy of Hall of Famer Joe Morgan for the most by a Reds second baseman.

New winners becoming a tradition
The corner infield spots in the National League were won by a pair of first-timers: Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado.

Goldschmidt is the NL’s fifth different winner in the last five years at first base. Arenado is the sixth different winner in six years at the hot corner.

It’s been a long time
Some notable droughts were broken with Tuesday’s awards. Among them:

Perez became the first Royals catcher to win a Gold Glove since Bob Boone in 1989.

Hosmer became the first Royals first baseman to win a Gold Glove. Hosmer beat out a field that in past years would have been led by Mark Teixeira, Albert Pujols and Adrian Gonzalez. With Teixeira and Pujols injured and Gonzalez now in the National League, the field was wide open at that position.

Machado became the first Orioles third baseman to win a Gold Glove since Brooks Robinson in 1975.

Andrelton Simmons became the first Braves shortstop to win a Gold Glove and the first Braves infielder to win one since Terry Pendleton in 1992.

Carlos Gomez became the first Brewer to win a Gold Glove since Robin Yount in 1982 and the first Brewers outfielder to win one since Sixto Lezcano in 1979. Gomez led the majors with five home run robberies. No other player had more than two.

Cardinals' walk-off win is unprecedented

October, 27, 2013
Jeff Curry/USA TODAY SportsThe Cardinals are the first team to win a World Series on an error since 1986.
It was a World Series game that ended in a way we’ve never seen before.

The St. Louis Cardinals won after Allen Craig scored on an obstruction call at third base. Jon Jay grounded into a fielder’s choice, as Dustin Pedroia threw Yadier Molina out at home. As Craig approached third base, Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia threw the ball past third baseman Will Middlebrooks. Craig tripped over Middlebrooks and was tagged out attempting to come home, but obstruction was called, which resulted in Craig scoring the game-winning run.

It was the first postseason game ever to end on an obstruction error, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

From the MLB rule book:

Rule 2.00
OBSTRUCTION is the act of a fielder who, while not in possession of the ball and
not in the act of fielding the ball, impedes the progress of any runner.

Rule 2.00 (Obstruction) Comment: If a fielder is about to receive a thrown ball and if the ball is in flight directly toward and near enough to the fielder so he must occupy his position to receive the ball he may be considered "in the act of fielding a ball." It is entirely up to the judgment of the umpire as to whether a fielder is in the act of fielding a ball. After a fielder has made an attempt to field a ball and missed, he can no longer be in the "act of fielding" the ball. For example: an infielder dives at a ground ball and the ball passes him and he continues to lie on the ground and delays the progress of the runner, he very likely has obstructed the runner.

It was the first time the Red Sox lost a World Series game on a walk-off since Game 6 of the 1986 World Series against the Mets -- aka “the Buckner game."

It was only the fourth World Series game ever to end on an error, the first since that same Mets-Red Sox game in 1986.

The Cardinals, leading the series 2-1, are in the driver’s seat. According to Elias, 16 of the 18 teams to win Game 3 of the World Series after the series was tied 1-1 went on to win the series.

How do you pitch to Dustin Pedroia?

October, 22, 2013
The Stats & Information team offers a look at a key hitter on each World Series team and uses Next-Level data to analyze how he might best be approached by opposing pitchers. This article looks at Dustin Pedroia.

Pedroia’s tendencies in 2013 run counter to those he’s shown in past seasons.

Pedroia has been hampered by a thumb injury in 2013 and his power numbers are down considerably. He only has nine home runs this season, down from the 21 he hit in 2011 and 15 in 2012.

But he still is a formidable threat at the plate.

How do pitchers get him out?

Up, up and away
Pitching Pedroia up in the strike zone used to be an unwise choice, but with Pedroia now less of a power threat, it makes sense to do so.

The chart on the right shows Pedroia faring worse against pitches in the upper-half of the strike zone and above.

Of the pitches in those locations that Pedroia has hit, the ball is not jumping off the bat. Our video-scouting service has credited Pedroia with hard-hit balls on only about 19 percent of the upper-half pitches that he made contact against.

From 2010 to 2012, that rate was 33 percent.

Last year Pedroia homered once every 93 pitches to that area. This year, it's once every 253.

Lefties especially should be intent on pitching Pedroia upstairs. Pedroia is hitting .191 (13-for-68) in at-bats against lefties that end with a pitch in the upper half of the strike zone or above this season.

He’s hitting .432 (57-for-132) against them on pitches thrown to the lower half of the zone or below.

Accept that there will be some long at-bats
Pedroia will frustrate opposing pitchers with his ability to foul pitches off. He had the second-highest foul-ball rate in baseball - 42.7 percent - in the regular season and ranked ninth in the majors with an average of 4.19 pitches per plate appearance.

Pedroia is a good hitter in two-strike counts. His .283 batting average and 84 two-strike hits both ranked second in the majors in the regular season.

If you want to get Pedroia out with two strikes, you’re better off throwing him a fastball than an offspeed pitch.

Pedroia hit .312 in two-strike at-bats ending with an offspeed pitch this season, nearly double the major-league average of .159.

His miss rate of 14 percent was less than half the major-league average of 29 percent.

The best defense
Pedroia hits about 20 percent of his ground balls to the opposite field so he’s not someone who would necessarily warrant a shift.

The one adjustment a defense might consider making is playing Pedroia to hit the ball in the air the other way in the games at Busch Stadium.

Pedroia has about as many balls hit in the air to the left side as he does to the right side in Fenway Park this season, which makes sense, given how the Green Monster is a hitter-friendly target.

On the road, Pedroia when Pedroia hits the ball in the air, he’s more than twice as likely to hit it to the right side of the field (45 percent) as he is to pull it (21 percent).

5 stats to know: Yankees at Red Sox

August, 18, 2013

Getty Images
CC Sabathia’s Yankees are one of two teams that Ryan Dempster has never beaten.

With a win, the Boston Red Sox can clinch their fourth straight series against their archrivals as they host the New York Yankees on Sunday Night Baseball (8 ET on ESPN/WatchESPN).

Here are five stats to know going into tonight’s action at Fenway Park.

1. The Yankees are having their worst offensive season since 1990, but the recent addition of Alfonso Soriano and the return of Alex Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson have helped. New York has averaged 5.2 runs per game with all three on the roster, nearly a run and a half better than they averaged in the first 110 games of the season.

2. CC Sabathia is having the worst season of his 13-year MLB career. He is posting career highs in ERA, home runs and hits per nine innings. His fastball is down 1.4 mph from last season and more than 3 mph from his first year with the Yankees in 2009.

3. Ryan Dempster is 0-5 with a 6.98 ERA in seven career starts against the Yankees. That’s his second-highest ERA against any opponent (he has a 7.62 ERA against the Los Angeles Angels), and the Yankees and Detroit Tigers are the only teams he hasn’t won a game against.

What should he focus on against the Yanks?

When Dempster needs an out, he goes to his Vulcan changeup, which acts like a splitter. This season, opponents are hitting .137 and striking out 35 percent of the time against the pitch.

4. The Red Sox have seen more pitches than any other team this season, nearly 1,000 more than the second-most. Six of the Red Sox starters are in the top 50 in the American League in pitches per plate appearance, and Boston has forced more starting pitchers out before the sixth inning than any team in the majors.

Based on their most common starting lineup, the Red Sox see nearly two more pitches each time through the order than the average American League team – 36.5 to 34.7.

5. Soriano has filled a major void in the Yankees’ lineup. Before his arrival, Yankees’ right-handed hitters hadn’t hit a home run in 26 games. In the 20 games since then, they’ve hit 14, with Soriano accounting for eight.

Odds and Ends

• Ichiro Suzuki is closing in on 4,000 professional hits. He is third among active MLB players with 2,717 hits and had 1,278 hits during his career in Japan.

• Mariano Rivera has blown three straight save opportunities for the first time in his career. According to Elias, since Rivera became the Yankees’ closer in 1997, 33 different pitchers have had at least one streak of three or more blown saves in the ninth inning or later in the same season.

• David Ortiz has 24 home runs this season. It’s his 11th 20-homer season since joining the Red Sox, tied for second most in franchise history behind Ted Williams. His next home run will give him nine 25-homer seasons.

5 stats to know: Rays at Red Sox

July, 24, 2013

USA TODAY Sports, AP PhotoFelix Dubront (left) and David Price (right) will take the mound for their respective teams on Wednesday Night Baseball. The teams have split the first 2 games of the 4-game series
The Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox play the third game of a four-game series tonight at Fenway Park at 7 ET on ESPN/WatchESPN.

Here are five stats our broadcast crew will likely be talking about during Wednesday night’s game.

1. Since returning from the disbaled list on July 2, David Price has a 3-1 record and a 1.97 ERA. During that stretch, he’s walked one batter in 32 innings.

One of the biggest changes for Price since returning from the disabled list has been his increased usage of his changeup.

In April and May, he threw the pitch only 13% of the time. In his last four starts, he’s throwing it 21% of the time.

Price is 8-5 in 17 career starts against the Red Sox, with a 3.27 ERA. However, he’s been much better at Fenway, going 4-1 with a 2.13 ERA in eight starts.

His ERA is the lowest of any active visiting pitcher at Fenway with at least five starts.

2. Dustin Pedroia has reportedly agreed to a seven-year extension worth about $100 million that would keep him in a Red Sox uniform until 2021. The team plans to make a formal announcement within days.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, if Pedroia plays out this new contract with Boston, he would have spent 16 seasons with the team, something only five players have done: Carl Yastrzemski (23 seasons), Ted Williams (19), Dwight Evans (19), Tim Wakefield (17) and Jim Rice (16).

Pedroia’s contract would be the fourth contract worth at least $100 million handed out by the team in its history.

None of the previous three completed the contact in a Boston uniform, although Manny Ramirez almost got there.

3. Despite losing Tuesday night, the Rays are still one of the hottest teams in baseball, having won 21 of their last 26 games. This streak has moved them within 1½ games of the first-place Red Sox in the AL East.

However, Tampa Bay has struggled against Boston this year, going 4-10 (20-15 against the rest of the AL East). The Rays have lost the season series to the Red Sox for the first time since 2007.

4. David Ortiz is one home run shy of reaching 20 for the 11th time in a Red Sox uniform. That would match Dwight Evans and Jim Rice for the second-most such seasons in club history, behind only Ted Williams (16 years).

5. Felix Doubront is enjoying a solid run for Boston, as he hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in a start since May 8, compiling a 2.59 ERA in those 12 starts.

Doubront is the first Red Sox pitcher to go 12 straight starts while allowing three or fewer earned runs since Pedro Martinez went 16 straight ending in April 2003.

Quick Hitters
• Tampa Bay will play 38 road games after the All Star break, the most in the majors. The good news is the Rays have the best road record in baseball since 2010 (.550 win percentage).

• The Red Sox and Atlanta Braves are the only teams that have remained above .500 for the entire season. It’s the latest Boston has stayed above .500 since 1946, when they stayed above that mark the entire season.

Numbers show Pedroia is among the elite

July, 24, 2013
Elsa/Getty ImagesDustin Pedroia won the 2008 AL MVP award.
Dustin Pedroia has signed a seven-year extension (beginning in 2015) worth around $100 million with the Boston Red Sox, according to's Gordon Edes and multiple reports.

If Pedroia’s contract is indeed worth $100 million, it would be the fourth of at least $100 million handed out by the Red Sox organization in the team's history.

None of the previous three –- Manny Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford –- completed their contracts in a Red Sox uniform, although Ramirez came close before being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the final year of his deal. Coincidentally, Gonzalez and Crawford were also traded to the Dodgers, so perhaps that means Pedroia will end up in Los Angeles one day.

Not many second basemen have been as productive as Pedroia.

Since Pedroia’s first full season in 2007, he ranks first or second among second basemen in batting average, hits and doubles.

Pedroia leads all second basemen in Wins Above Replacement (WAR) since his MVP season in 2008, narrowly ahead of Chase Utley.

Only four second basemen who debuted since 1980 have more Wins Above Replacement through their age-29 season: Roberto Alomar, Chuck Knoblauch, Ryne Sandberg and Robinson Cano.

Pedroia’s numbers are historically elite for a second baseman. He’s one of five second basemen (players who played at least 50 percent of their games at second base) to hit at least .300 with at least 450 RBIs in their first eight seasons. The first two to do so were Jackie Robinson and Pete Rose. The others were Jose Vidro and Cano.

That’s not the only honor Pedroia shares with Robinson.

Since Major League Baseball first handed out the Rookie of the Year award in 1947, Robinson and Pedroia are the only second basemen (players who played at least 50 percent of their games at second base) in history to win Rookie of the Year, MVP and a World Series title while playing for the same team.

Pedroia isn’t just elite among second basemen. Since his rookie season in 2007, he has the fifth-most Wins Above Replacement among all players.

Based on that list, it seems that a raise was well deserved. The other four players on the list are each earning at least $15 million this season, while Pedroia’s 2013 salary is $10.3 million.

Home runs come in a variety of paths

July, 1, 2013

G Fiume/Getty ImagesChris Davis hit 12 home runs in June, increasing his major league-lead to 31.
If June taught us anything about the way home runs were hit, it would be the fact they come in many shapes and sizes.

On June 22, Jay Bruce hit the longest home run of the month, a 472-foot shot off Patrick Corbin at Chase Field. That tied him for the third-longest home run hit this season and since the beginning of ESPN Home Run Tracker in 2006, only Adam Dunn has hit longer home runs as a left-handed batter off a left-handed pitcher.

Dunn hit a 504-foot HR off Glendon Rusch on September 27, 2008 and launched a 474-foot shot off John Grabow on April 6, 2006.

Masher of the Month
Mark Trumbo his six June home runs, averaging 423.8 feet per homer. His longest was a 457-foot home run off Jordan Lyles, and all but two went over 425 feet. For the season, Trumbo is averaging 417.2 feet per home run, second-longest in baseball to Justin Upton (427.9 feet, min. 15 HR).

On the flip side, Dustin Pedroia hit the shortest home run of the month, a 330-feet dinger off Alexi Ogando at Fenway Park that barely snuck over the Green Monster. Three of the four shortest home runs in June have come at Fenway Park.

Hitting Homers in Different Ways
Chris Davis had the most home runs in June (12) and leads the majors with 31 overall. Davis has shown power to all fields this season, as nine of his home runs have gone to either left or left center field.

Domonic Brown is second in the National League with 21 home runs, however all but one has gone to either right or right center field (he finally hit a home run to center field on June 27). Brown’s average home run distance is 381.4 feet, the shortest for any player with 10-or-more home runs.

Check out the home run spray chart for Davis and Brown:

Where Have the Long Home Runs Gone?
On June 8, Jeff Baker hit a 440-foot home run in Toronto, the 16th home run at Rogers Centre to go at least 440 feet this season, by far the most in baseball.

It was also the only time this month Rogers Centre yielded a 440+ foot home run. There have been 23 other home runs hit at least 440 feet in June.

Vastly Different Paths Lead to Same Result
On June 19, Hanley Ramirez hit a home run at Yankee Stadium that went 353 feet. Six days later, Juan Francisco hit a home run at Miller Park that also went 353 feet.

The significance? Ramirez’s home run left the ballpark in 3.03 seconds, the second fastest a home run has left any park this season. Francisco’s home run was in the air for 7.25 seconds, the longest hang time for a home run since the beginning of ESPN Home Run Tracker in 2006.

Check out the trajectories of each home run (Ramirez top, Francisco bottom):

Pedroia, Phillips differentiate with glove, bat

June, 11, 2013
It took 14 innings for the Boston Red Sox to outlast the Tampa Bay Rays, something that would not have happened without the defense of Dustin Pedroia.

Pedroia made two huge plays, a catch on a pop up and a snag of a bunt hit attempt in key spots for the Red Sox to preserve the tie game.

Pedroia picked up another Web Gem from Baseball Tonight, giving him five this season. That’s second-most among second basemen behind Brandon Phillips, who had seven.

Phillips had quite the day as well.

Let’s review the pivotal moments for each on Monday night.

Pedroia’s Plays
Pedroia entered Monday with eight Defensive Runs Saved (for an explanation of the stat, click here), the most in the majors among second basemen.

Pedroia’s 37 Defensive Runs Saved dating back to the start of the 2011 season also rank most among second basemen. In fact, only three players have more than that at any position in that span—Mariner shortstop Brendan Ryan (50), Royals leftfielder Alex Gordon (47) and Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie with 39.

What makes Pedroia so good is that he maximizes great plays while minimizing his mistakes.

Baseball Info Solutions does video-tracking, crediting fielders for more than 30 categories of Good Fielding Plays (think Web-Gem nominees) and penalizing them for more than 50 categories of Defensive Misplays & Errors.

Pedroia’s ratio of Good Plays to Misplays & Errors is 40 to 6 (he’s yet to make an error this season). By comparison, three of the game’s best defensive second basemen- Barney, Phillips, and Robinson Cano, all have ratios of around 3-to-1. In other words: about half of Pedroia’s ratio.

Pedroia’s defensive value is integral to what he brings to the game. And he’s recognized for it. Entering Monday Pedroia was worth 3.7 Wins Above Replacement this season, edging out Miguel Cabrera for the highest among position players in the American League.

Phillips’ power
Phillips had a day on the offensive end that was just as good, if not better as Pedroia’s on the defensive end.

Phillips drove in all six of the Reds runs in their win over the Chicago Cubs, four by way of his fifth career grand slam.

The day put Phillips in pretty good company. He’s the first Reds player to account for all of his team’s runs with at least six RBI since Johnny Bench did so in a 6-2 win over the Braves on September 12, 1974.

Phillips has been been extremely productive with the bases loaded this season, going 5-for-7 with a walk and a sacrifice fly. He’s hitting .435 (27-for-62 with runners in scoring position.

The grand slam came on a curveball from Scott Feldman and one of the keys to Phillips success is making pitchers pay for those pitches. He’s 13-for-21 with four doubles and the grand slam in at-bats that end with a curve or slider with runners in scoring position.

This is also part of a run of being consistently clutch. In each of the previous two seasons, Phillips hit better than .300 with runners in scoring position.

There’s a good chance he’ll do that again. Consider this: If Phillips went 0-for-his-next-27 with runners in scoring position, his batting average in such situations this season would still be above .300.

Cobb tries to ground Red Sox hitters

June, 10, 2013

AP Photo/Mike CarlsonAlex Cobb has been one of the best pitchers in the AL since Aug. 1 of last season.
Alex Cobb has quietly put together a great season and has been excellent since the start of August last season. He’ll face one of the best offenses in baseball when the Tampa Bay Rays host the Boston Red Sox on "Monday Night Baseball" (ESPN/WatchESPN, 7 ET).

Cobb is 13-3 with a 2.72 ERA since the start of August (the Rays are 17-5 in his 22 starts since then), and he’s struck out nearly four times as many hitters as he’s walked.

He’s been even better at home, with a 1.84 ERA at Tropicana Field in that span and a 0.82 WHIP. He’s third in the American League in ERA this season and has the third-lowest in the league since Aug. 1, 2012.

Cobb may not blow you away with velocity, but opponents are hitting .209 against his fastball, seventh-lowest among starters in the AL. His strikeout rate is up with the pitch relative to seasons past, and he's throwing it in the strike zone more often.

Cobb works his splitter off that fastball. Only three pitchers have more strikeouts with their changeup or splitter this season.

And he’s done an excellent job of keeping the ball on the ground. More than 58 percent of balls in play off him this season have been grounders, the highest rate in the AL.

The Red Sox have hit just .173 against Cobb since he joined the big leagues with more strikeouts (23) than total hits (18). Current members of the Sox are hitting .181 against him with 22 punchouts and just 13 hits.

But this Red Sox offense is one of the best in baseball, and that starts with former MVP Dustin Pedroia. He’s reached base in 62 games this season, more than anybody else in baseball.

He’s hitting .333 during his 13-game hitting streak and has a hit in 29 of his past 31 games, batting .369 in that span.

Pedroia has been great with two strikes this season, leading the majors in hits and on-base percentage, and his .321 batting average in two-strike counts trails only Brandon Phillips' (.333).

It hasn’t been all Pedroia for Boston. Daniel Nava has the highest on-base percentage of any regular outfielder in the AL, as you can see in the second chart.

And he’s improved in all facets of hitting each year in the majors, striking out less often, drawing more walks and hitting for more power.

Quick Hitters
• Jose Iglesias is 20-for-46 (.435) during his 13-game hit streak. He’s reached safely in 21 of 22 games this season.

• Mike Carp is 8-for-16 with three home runs in his past five games. He’s batting .318 in 85 at-bats this season with a 1.048 OPS.

• Stephen Drew has a .306 batting average and .393 OBP in his past 14 games.

5 stats to know: Red Sox vs Yankees

June, 2, 2013

Five stats you’ll likely hear quite a bit more about on tonight’s "Sunday Night Baseball" matchup between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.

1-- Since the start of the 2010 season, the Yankees lead the series 30-29. Head-to-head, the Yankees have outscored the Red Sox 317-294 and outhomered them 91-63.

The Yankees hit 43 home runs against the Red Sox last season, the most they’ve ever hit against them in a single season.

2-- Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda threw seven scoreless innings in his last start against the Mets. Kuroda has made 10 scoreless starts of at least seven innings since the start of the 2012 season, the most in the major leagues.

Kuroda has been very tough on right-handed hitters. They entered the day hitting with a .185 on-base percentage and .226 slugging percentage against him, both lowest in the majors against any pitcher currently qualified for the ERA title.

3-- Clay Buchholz enters Sunday 7-0 for the Red Sox this season. He's trying to become the fourth Red Sox pitcher to start 8-0 in a season since Roger Clemens started 14-0 in 1986. The other three are Rich Garces (8-0 in 2000), Josh Beckett (9-0 in 2007) and Daisuke Matsuzaka (8-0 in 2008).

One of the things that plagued Buchholz last season was that hitters were able to get to him with two strikes. He allowed 25 extra-base hits with two strikes in 2012, but has only yielded three (and no home runs) in 2013.

4-- Speaking of two-strike hitting, baseball's best hitter with two strikes this season has been Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia.

Pedroia entered Sunday with a major-league leading 41 two strike hits, and .407 on-base percentage.

Pedroia has 13 hits on 0-2 counts this season, also the most in the majors.

5-- The return of former Red Sox infielder Kevin Youkilis to the Yankees lineup should make an immediate impact. Youkilis is hitting .333 with a .928 OPS when playing third base for the Yankees this season. He has as many home runs (2) in those 48 at-bats as the Yankees other third basemen (who have had only a .646 OPS this season) have in 156 at-bats.

Kuroda's look outside nets improvement

August, 19, 2012

U.S. Presswire/Kevin JairajHiroki Kuroda has been among the best pitchers in the AL the last two months.

The pitcher to watch in the Sunday Night Baseball matchup is not who you might think it would be. Let’s take a snapshot look at that and other things to keep an eye on heading into tonight’s series-deciding clash.

The new-look Hiroki Kuroda
Hiroki Kuroda has found an unusual amount of success making the conversion from the National League to the American League.

He’s tied with Felix Hernandez for the major-league lead in scoreless starts of at least seven innings this season with six, including a two-hit shutout of the Texas Rangers in his last appearance.

The strategy you’ll see from Kuroda tonight will likely involve keeping the ball away from opposing hitters.

Of the hitters Kuroda has retired this season, 52 percent have gone down on a pitch away. That’s the ninth-highest rate among the 101 pitchers who have currently qualified for the ERA title.

Kuroda has worked inside and outside with his fastball, slider, and splitter. He’s established himself as the best in baseball at keeping the ball away from a hitter’s sweet spot.

Only 18 percent of his pitches (in other words, about 18 to 20 per game) are over the middle-third of the plate, width-wise. That’s the lowest rate in the majors (an average pitcher throws about 24 of 100 pitches to that area).

Beckett’s fastball
Josh Beckett’s plummeting fastball velocity has been a storyline throughout this season. The pitch that averaged 94 miles-per-hour in 2009 now clocks at 91 to 92 regularly.

In turn, opponents have hit it. They’ve gone from missing at a rate of about once every 5.5 swings to once every nine swings. When they do make contact, they do a lot of damage. They’ve raised their batting average against it from .230 in 2011 to .297 in 2012, and their slugging percentage has jumped from .356 to .459.

The one thing that Beckett has done to compensate appears to be keeping the ball down. Nearly 30 percent of his fastballs have been in the lower-third of the strike zone or below this season, a jump from 18 percent in 2011.

The Yankees touched Josh Beckett for six runs in five innings earlier this season. Keeping the fastball down didn’t help. He yielded four baserunners and got just three outs with that pitch in that area.

The Yankees approach vs Dustin Pedroia
Why are Dustin Pedroia’s slashline numbers (.280/.336/.428) all career-lows this season?

One reason is a decline in success against inside pitches.

The chart on the right shows how Pedroia has fared against pitches on the inner-half of the plate, or closer to him.

The Yankees seem to have taken notice. They’ve increased the percentage of inside pitches to him from 21 percent last season to 31 percent this year.

The fill-ins are working out fine
Just as the Red Sox didn’t expect to use Pedro Ciriaco as much as they have, the Yankees certainly didn’t expect to need Eric Chavez, Casey McGehee and Jayson Nix to play as much as they have. But Alex Rodriguez’s injury necessitated that.

Rodriguez is hitting .276 with a .449 slugging percentage this season. The Yankees third-base trio listed above is hitting .370 with a .713 slugging percentage since July 25.

Chavez, who should start tonight, is 15-for-27 with four home runs against right-handed pitching the last two weeks. Much of that damage (eight hits, two home runs) has come against offspeed pitches.