It wasn’t too long ago this season when Joc Pederson’s spot in the lineup translated into an easy out for the opponents. However, recent play has flipped that narrative.
Well, it seems as if Joc Pederson’s latest trip to the disabled list may have actually done him some good. Whether it was mechanical, mental, or both, Joc seems to be an entirely different player since returning to the Dodgers from his second DL stint of the season.
In his ten games, before his substitute appearance on Friday vs. the Rockies, since becoming healthy again, Pederson has hit .313 with a 1.176 OPS and three home runs. What is even more impressive is his strikeouts or lack thereof. He has only six strikeouts in ten games, compared to an impressive nine walks during this span.
He has shown a better eye, more patience and awareness, and better bat speed. During Thursday’s game against the New York Mets, Joc was called upon to pinch-hit during the bottom of the seventh inning of a 3-3 game. He turned on a pretty high in the zone fastball and absolutely crushed it into right field. That is the ability he has, to take a pitch that should be a ball or swinging strike, but instead, disposes it into the stands.
Pederson will continue to get a lot of high fastballs because of his longer than average swing length which is caused by his “all or nothing” mentality. This has led to a lot of strikeouts during his career, so until he proves he can hit them consistently, he’ll keep getting a large dosage.
However, if he can repeatedly turn on those high fastballs and make some solid contact, he could become a force to be consistently reckoned with.
Before this recent hot streak, I was of the mindset that Joc should be expendable and considered in a trade for pitching upgrades. He’s young and talented but was resembling more of a bust than anything this season.
In his defense, many Dodger fans have the habit of placing some high expectations on Joc, so when he doesn’t live up to these unfair expectations, we dislike him.
However, as long we have realistic expectations and are OK with them, we won’t be too disappointed. Joc is never going to hit for a high average, and that is something we have to live with. He is a career .225 hitter, so do not expect him to challenge the .300 mark anytime soon.
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To be fair to the fans, he was terrible up until the past ten or so games. Also, the reason he is so frustrating is that he tries to hit everything out of the park instead of just trying to put bat to ball and letting his ridiculous power do the work for him.
However, he did improve his batting average from 2015 (.210) to 2016 (.246) by 36 points. He has shown the ability to make more contact and at least have a respectable average. I think he will max out as a .250-.260 hitter, but even that may be pushing it.
However, he has a great ability of drawing walks, so as long as he keeps getting on base, hitting for power, and playing above-average defense, his production could be appreciated. Also, if he stops his “all or nothing” habit, he will not only continue to hit for power but improve everywhere else.
Joc has the special kind of raw power where anything less than his max effort can still produce bombs. We still need to see more from Pederson before we can fall in love again, but he is starting to resemble the guy who finished the last 62 games of 2016 with 12 home runs and a .900 OPS. Here’s hoping that Joc hasn’t been jinxed.