Vladimir Guerrero has missed the past two weeks with a small fracture in his right hand and had a measly .385 slugging percentage in 83 games before the injury, so naturally the Orioles have him batting cleanup tonight in his return from the disabled list.
Obviously the Orioles aren’t overflowing with fantastic cleanup-hitting options, but using Guerrero there is just silly at this point. Not only has he been punchless this season, the 36-year-old’s struggles date back to the middle of last season as well.
Since last year’s All-Star break Guerrero has hit .278 with a .318 on-base percentage and .404 slugging percentage in 142 games, totaling just 16 homers and 25 walks in 610 trips to the plate. To put that in some context, consider that Greg Dobbs has hit .267 with a .312 on-base percentage and .409 slugging percentage for his career.
Welp, that didn’t last long. Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia is going back on the injured list with more knee issues. If it matters the Sox say it’s not a big deal and they expect him back sooner rather than later, but they also said that his post-2017 knee surgery was just a “cleanup” at first and that basically cost him a year. So.
Pedroia has played in six games and is 2-for-20 with a walk.
I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that Pedroia’s career may be nearing an end. Sure, he’s under contract for two more years after this season, but he’s also in a unfortunate spiral that so many players experience in their mid-to-late 30s.
Running a website like this makes it all the clearer, actually. When you search a player’s name in our CMS, you get every post in which he appears in reverse chronological order. Just about every long-tenured player ends with about six posts in which he is alternately placed on and activated from the disabled/injured list. Then an offseason link to a big feature in which he’s written about as being “at a crossroads” followed by something vague about “resuming baseball activities” and then, inevitably, the retirement announcement. I can’t count the number of guys whose careers I can tick off in that way by browsing the guts of this site.
I hope that’s not the case for Pedroia. I hope that there’s a “Pedroia wins Comeback Player of the Year” post in the future. Or at the very least a silly “Miller’s Crossing” reference in an “And that Happened” in which I say “the old man’s still an artist with the Thompson” after he peppers the ball around in some 3-for-4, two-double game. I want that stuff to happen.
It’s just that, if you watch this game long enough, you realize how unlikely that is once a player starts to break down.