Is Red Sox Performance Actually Correlated to the State of Pedroia’s Beard?

Short answer: The second baseman better not shave until November.

If you haven’t noticed—and really, why would you have?—the Red Sox all have beards. The team’s magical run, which included clinching a playoff spot Thursday night, has inspired much discussion about the team camaraderie fostered by a joint commitment to facial hair.

In a recent New York Times article, Phil Olsen, the founder and captain of Beard Team USA, took things one step further: “My unscientific observation: The Red Sox’ record improves with the length of Dustin Pedroia’s beard,” he told the Times. Guess what? Our highly scientific study of Phil’s theory shows that he may be on to something.

The general correlation between Pedroia’s beard and the Red Sox’s success has been evident to many this year, to say the least. During one of the Red Sox’ most memorable regular seasons, Pedroia is sporting what may be the bushiest beard of his career.

Dustin Pedroia

Photo via AP. Sept. 17, 2013

Of course, one year is hardly a large or precise enough sample to make any conclusive determination on whether the length of Pedroia’s beard positively correlates with Boston’s standing in the win column. But if Olsen’s claim is true, then the reverse—that the Red Sox are less successful as Pedroia’s beard diminishes—should also be true.

Can you still remember the collapse of 2011? Oh, you can? Well through the month of August, Pedroia boasted a beard that would have drawn favorable comparisons to his 2013 efforts, but, as the season progressed, and the losses mounted, Pedroia gradually groomed himself until all that remained was a short layer of stubble. In fact, the final time that Pedroia appears close to fully-bearded is on August 31st in a 9-5 victory over the Yankees, improving Boston’s record 83-52—the team’s high-water mark at 31 games above .500.

From there, however, it was all losses and closer shaves for the Red Sox and Pedroia, who sheared away most of his beard—perhaps in frustration—as the Sox defaulted on the 2011 season.

Pedroia through the collapse:

Dustin Pedroia

Image via AP. Aug. 25, 2011

Dustin Pedroia

Image via AP. Sept. 9, 2011

Dustin Pedroia

Image via AP. Sept. 17, 2011

In addition to the these dramatic periods of success and failure that have corresponded with periods of great growth and great decline on the part of Pedroia’s beard, here are other notable instances when the Red Sox’ second baseman has gone beardless to poor result:

  • May 6, 2011 Pedroia shaves because his wife yells at him, he says.

Result: The Red Sox lose 9-2 to the Twins that night, part of a three-game losing streak in which the Red Sox are outscored 25-5.

  • July 26, 2011 Pedroia shaves his beard in the midst of a 22-game hitting streak.

Result: The Red Sox go 6-5 over their next 11 games, well off their 63-38 pace. Pedroia sure seemed to shave an awful lot during the 2011 season…

  • June 24, 2012 In an apparently non-baseball related decision, Pedroia tells reporters, “I’m trying to spice up my love life with my wife, so I shaved my beard, man.”

Result: The Sox lose to Detroit that night, but rebound after an off day to win nine of 10 games. It must be said, however, that the off day allowed Pedroia’s beard to recover somewhat. It probably also allowed Pedroia and his wife—well, you get the point.

One winning streak aside, there appears to be ample evidence—enough to fuel a reasonable conspiracy theory for fans to latch onto, anyway—that in recent years, bad things happen to the Red Sox when Dustin Pedroia shaves his beard. If you’re reading this, Dustin, all Red Sox Nation asks is that you keep the beard through September and October. Other temptations will, of course, arise, but with a great beard comes great responsibility.