Dodgers: Joc Pederson Needs to Hit His Stride in 2018

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 25: Joc Pederson
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 25: Joc Pederson /

While the Dodgers tough loss of a World Series Game 7 may still be fresh in the minds of the organization and their fans, come Spring Training, there is virtually nothing that anyone can do except to move on.

Sure it was a good run. The Dodgers came that close to being on top of the world. You know what, though, it didn’t happen. There are always things that even championship teams need to improved upon for the coming season. For the Dodgers, however, their problem is neither good or bad. It’ll come down to relying on a solid outfield. One that’ll be able to get the job done and positively contribute every day.

In recent years, their outfield has been a bright spot in the command and execution of playing quality baseball. All-star caliber players have roamed the outfield for Los Angeles recently. Many of those notable individuals have constructed a fantastic reputation while being out on the field. Respectively, some of the star-studded outfielders have been young talents who have risen to the occasion (in most cases); etched into the recent stars is Joc Pederson.

Before @yungjoc650 hit the ground running in 2015, he was a highly-regarded prospect in the Dodgers’ organization, as well as throughout Major League Baseball. Pederson was respected for possessing more than two, or even three tools in his repertoire. He pretty well fit the bill for what the Dodgers needed at the time; a young, fresh, electrifying player, with some pop to bolster their offensive attack.  With a powerful stroke like the one Joc has, many young hitters tend to face the consequences of striking out and having an ‘all or nothing’ approach at the plate.

That seems to have translated into the way that Pederson has been performing after being a first-time All-star in 2015. There could very well be instances where it is reasonably acceptable to sacrifice an out or two; like laying low and waiting for the pitcher to make mistake and take it deep. This mentality of all-or-nothing swings has been what I consider to be the Achilles heel of a new breed of young hitters.

For Pederson, the California vacation is over. His demotion to Triple-A last season was a shock, but  he knows as well as anyone that he needs to adapt to this game, or it will run him right out of the show. Joc is still young and has learning to do, sure, but he is at a point where his value will likely decrease drastically if he does not bounce back in 2018.

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The 25-year-old outfielder might be better off if he simplifies his mechanics at the plate and goes back to the basics that got him called up to the Majors in the first place. His offensive struggles have really only been the biggest concern, and his swing got bigger, which eventually led to holes being exploited by opposing pitchers – most problems coming with left-handed pitchers.

Personally, it would be easiest to connect Joc’s poor offensive output in 2017 to the ever-changing batting stance.  If he is able to just break down the basic fundamentals of his game and depart from his near superstitious need to keep the front shoulder in, he could be more aggressive in the box by wearing his signature helmet protective piece. We could potentially see a newly improved stroke, with a more relaxed Pederson.

Joc will certainly have to improve on a .212 batting average and a .738 OPS from 2017, if he wants to re-establish himself as an everyday player. His biggest issue; hitting southpaws (.204 BA, .597 OPS), will be a top priority and could modify his entire approach at the plate, in the coming season.”

By focusing less on numerous factors in which he believes play big into his success and downfalls, he could find more direction by narrowing down his areas of focus to a small amount, with the hope and belief that a simplified swing is ultimately the best thing for him. Looking ahead to 2018, Joc Pederson could be faced with a make or break year; therefore, changes will be made when Spring Training rolls in.

If all goes well, the Dodger faithful will hopefully see his adjustments lead to a successful Regular Season for the beloved California native; and a positive contribution to the Los Angeles Dodgers, as they try to cap it all off this year – but as champions this time.

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