Yasiel Puig is still the best Dodger outfielder in my opinion, but I must admit that I underestimated Joc Pederson‘s defensive abilities. Pederson has really impressed in center field so far this season, and I’m thrilled the Dodgers have such a powerfully packed outfield. Puig and Pederson are a young and dynamic duo in the outfield who are potentially both long-term stars.
During the final game against Seattle on Wednesday at Dodger Stadium, Joc Pederson made two extraordinary plays from center field. Both plays were at the expense of catcher Mike Zunino who also had a Golden Sombrero in the second game.
Outfield assists are one of my favorite plays to watch, and usually it’s Yasiel Puig‘s cannon arm mowing down base runners. Joc showed off his surprisingly strong arm while collecting his first major league assist in the same game on Wednesday versus the Mariners.
With a powerfully-armed outfield consisting of Yasiel Puig, Joc Pederson and Andre Ethier (who still has a strong arm as well), the competitors better be wary when running on the Dodger outfield in 2015. Yasiel Puig amassed 15 outfield assists last season which led the National League. Puig was just one assist behind the MLB leader Yoenis Cespedes for the year. Matt Kemp had 7 outfield assists last season.
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One of the reasons Matt Kemp was traded was due to his declining defense. Kemp was never an elite defender, but his injuries certainly took a step or two away from him. The Dodgers focused on improving defense not only in the middle infield, but also the outfield during the busy offseason. Moving Yasiel Puig back to right field and opening the season with Joc Pederson in center field was a process in the works for awhile. The reconfiguration already looks like it is paying dividends for the Dodgers this April.
The new front office has also provided the outfielders with “papers and numbers and charts” which help the outfielders to play in the optimum spot in the outfield. Lorenzo Bundy is in charge of the outfield defense, and he has taken the new information that Andrew Friedman provides to coach the outfield in a more in depth way accounting for individual hitters and pitching counts.
Joc Pederson is all for using statistical information in his preparation as a player.
"“Numbers don’t lie,” Pederson said. “It’s accurate. It’s pretty funny. Sometimes, they hit and you don’t even move, and you’re like, ‘Wow.'”"
Yasiel Puig and Joc Pederson played together in the minors in 2012 for Rancho Cucamonga, and perhaps the outfield pair were destined to become superstar Dodger outfielders together.
"“He’s always been in center and I’ve always been in right,” Puig said. “I like playing with him.”"
Even though they come from two totally different backgrounds, their talents could be both very impactful to this Dodger team for years to come. Joc is not too bad with the bat too.
There will be mistakes and errant throws. After all, Puig and Pederson are still only 22 and 24-years old. Their talent combined with the new inclusion of advanced statistics could really mean a recipe for amazing results.
Even though the Wild Horse’s pasture in the outfield has been decreased a bit with his move back to right field, the Cuban phenom still has the space to utilize his speed and aggressive style of play. Puig’s desire to not only be the best at the plate as well as out in the field is a reflection of his dedication to the game. No. 66 is already one of the best right fielders in the league, but with the additional information the Dodgers are providing their outfielders, Puig could really hone in on that Gold Glove.
Puig and Pederson, if communicating well and not colliding with each other, could very well be showing off their skills this October. Pederson’s defense has impressed, and I’m thrilled to watch this kid named Joc’s rookie season unfold. With a baby-faced smirk, Joc has already been electric in center field. It’s a long season, but #Joctober isn’t that far away.