Dustin Pedroia. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Wednesday is Hall of Fame day. It’s when we uncover the next class. But with most of the voting having gone public, the results will ultimately be somewhat anti-climatic.
That’s why we should spend today having a different conversation.
We have plenty of time for the David Ortiz talk. The year 2021, to be exact. So with the designated hitter starting his Hall of Fame clock, now we can turn to which player still wearing a Red Sox uniform should be considered Cooperstown-worthy.
It’s a debate that might take a bit more effort — which, as we found out through the latest round of balloting, isn’t often times a favorite of voters. But a worthy exercise, nonetheless.
Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts have Hall of Fame talent. That much we do know. But their cautionary tale is teammate Hanley Ramirez, who through is first five years as a major leaguer had .313 batting average and .906 OPS to along with the sixth-most total bases from 2006-10.
Now we can’t, with all good conscious, introduce Ramirez into any Hall of Fame conversation.
The pitchers? David Price could make a run at it. Through his first eight seasons he has the third-most wins over that span, equaling Clayton Kershaw. The lefty has also turned in more innings than all but four starters, while managing a 3.23 ERA, all while pitching exclusively in the American League.
Hall of Famer Randy Johnson had 20 fewer wins and a 3.55 during his first eight full seasons in the bigs, hitting his ninth legit year two years older than Price. So there is a chance.
But with the volatility of pitchers’ shoulders and elbows, projecting into their 30’s, is a dangerous proposition.
That brings us to Dustin Pedroia.
The Red Sox’ second baseman has put himself in a pretty good position.
His health is obviously the wild card. But for the sake of this discussion, we will work under the assumption that Pedroia is going to be using the momentum of last season’s health (154 games) to stay on the field.
The foundation of his case should be with the most recent second baseman to enter the Hall, Craig Biggio. Through the same number of plate appearances Pedroia currently own (6,280), the former Astro owned a .290 batting average and .809 OPS with 126 homers. They’re all numbers the Sox’ star eclipse, with both players hitting the plate appearance jumping off point at relatively the same age.
As we sit here right now, Pedroia has a career batting average of .301, an .811 OPS and 133 homers.
Biggio did go on to play nine more seasons, but hit just .269 during that stretch with a modest .776 OPS.
Perhaps comparing Pedroia to a sure-fire first ballot middle infielder might offer more of a convincing case. Let’s use Derek Jeter.
Through that 6,280 plate-appearance jumping off point, Jeter is ahead of Pedroia. But not by as much as you might think. During that start of the former Yankee’s career, he hit .315 with an .850 OPS and 151 homers. The rest of the way? Jeter totaled 6,271 plate appearances over just more than nine seasons and hit .304 with a .785 OPS.
Catching Jeter might not be realistic, but presenting a better case than Biggio? That isn’t out of the realm of possibility. And if that’s the case, then you should have another Red Sox Hall of Famer.
Such a long way to go, and plenty of time to talk. Seems like a good a time as any to kick things off.
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