Pedroia's list of comps doesn't offer much more peace of mind. His most similar player from ages 26-28 is Jose Vidro. The peak of the unsung Vidro's career looks remarkably similar to Pedroia's:
And his fade was painfully fast. Some of that decline was due to injuries, and Vidro wasn't the mostly finely conditioned athlete of the 21st century. But again, it's at least a small reminder: second base, to paraphrase semi-fictional Ron Washington from "Moneyball,'' is incredibly hard.
If you're skeptical, imagine yourself waiting for a throw from the third baseman while just out of your line of vision, Yasiel Puig is barreling toward your left knee with the ferocious intent of breaking up a double play no matter what it takes. Me, I'd go fetal roughly 20 feet behind the bag. Make it straightaway center field just to be safe.
Second base is a tough position to endure even if you play with self-preservation in mind. Dustin Pedroia has never played with self-preservation in mind. It's one reason why Boston loves him like it loved Neely, a player who was robbed of the years beyond his prime and thus never faded in our eyes.
If a player is going to make $20 million per year, sure, it might as well be Pedroia, if you want to look at it in a vacuum, with no consideration to how it might affect team-building, the salary structure, and so on. But if this contract is a five-year extension rather than one that starts anew next year -- and it is apparently the former, with an average annual value of roughly $15 million -- here's a suggestion to tuck away for future reference:
Make a note to remember how fun he was to watch when he signed this deal. Because as adept as he has been at proving doubters wrong, chances are that in 2019 and beyond, Pedroia, will bear only a faint resemblance to the player he is now.
About Touching All The Bases
Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.