Dodgers: Is Joc Pederson the Dodgers Left Field Starter?

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 01: Joc Pederson /

After a stellar performance in the post season has Joc Pederson proved he should be the starting left fielder next season?

Joc Pederson was having a very disappointing season before the playoffs began. He started the year as the Dodgers primary starting center fielder. He started the season with a bang hitting a grand slam on opening day and driving in 5 runs against the Padres. It looked like Pederson was poised to have a breakout season as he had now entered his third year in the majors, but that was not the case.

After that opening day grand slam Pederson didn’t hit a home run until May 21st against the Marlins. Overall, Pederson only ended up hitting 11 home runs during the season after hitting 51 home runs in his first two seasons combined. He struggled so badly that he even got sent down to the minors on August 19th when the Dodgers acquired Curtis Granderson and didn’t even get an initial call-up when September call-ups came around. In fact, he didn’t get called back up until September 5th. Pederson used to be touted as one of the Dodgers young stars and future franchise players.

Before Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger, it was Pederson who was thought of as the untouchable young Dodgers prospect. Before the 2015 season began, Pederson was ranked as the number two prospect on Baseball America. He was coming off a great 2014 season in AAA in which he hit .303 with 33 home runs and a 1.017 OPS with 30 stolen bases. The average and stolen bases have not translated to the majors, but the power was shown to be there over the first two seasons.

Pederson initially got off to a fast start his rookie season having 20 HR at the break and earning an all-star appearance as well as competing in the HR derby where he finished 2nd to Todd Frazier. He then struggled in the 2nd half of his rookie season hitting .178 with only six home runs. His sophomore year Joc should some improvements raising his average from .210 his rookie season while maintaining his power hitting 25 home runs.

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His home run frequency improved from his rookie season from 18.5 AB/HR to 16.2 and slightly lowered his strikeout percentage from 29.1% to 27.3%. It looked like Pederson was starting to figure it out and was going to improve his average even more while maintain his massive power, but things didn’t turn out that way. His disappointing regular season had doubters giving up on Pederson. It looked like his Dodger career wasn’t going to last much longer, but a great World Series performance against the Astros has people all of the sudden reevaluating their thoughts on Pederson.

Pederson wasn’t even on the division series roster against the Diamondbacks, but after his replacement, Curtis Granderson struggled miserably the Dodgers gave Pederson a chance and put him on the NLCS roster against the Cubs. He only had six plate appearances with one double, but he showed the Dodgers enough to give them the confidence to put him on the World Series roster. In the World Series  Pederson didn’t disappoint hitting .333 with three home runs with 5 RBI and 1.344 ops in 20 plate appearances. If the Dodgers had gone on to win it all, there’s a good chance that Pederson would’ve been the MVP of the series.

Pederson was a different player against the Astros. He was a lot more patient and relaxed. He was seeing the ball well and waiting for his pitch, and it seemed like his stint in the minors humbled him. The knock on Pederson was that he tried to swing for the fences too often but in the WS he focused on just making solid contact and in the process still hit HR due to his natural power. He is talented enough to hit HR without even trying to hit them and as soon as Pederson starts to understand that is when he will fully maximize his potential.

Maybe the fact that in the post season players are putting their ego aside and doing whats best for the team is what led to his turn around, but it’s a game plan Pederson should have all the time. During a 162 game regular season its easy to just worry about yourself and your numbers especially when you’re on a great team. I still think Pederson is a valuable player to this Dodger team. I don’t think what he did in the WS was an aberration.

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Pederson had always been capable of playing at that level he just needs to stay disciplined. He is more talented than the other options the Dodgers currently have at that position. If  Pederson can stay true to his game plan, I believe he should be the main starter next year at the beginning of the season, but if he struggles the Dodger would have no problem replacing him again.