Dodgers: 2018 May Be Joc Pederson’s Last Chance in Blue

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LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 01: Joc Pederson
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 01: Joc Pederson /
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Joc Pederson broke out in the World Series, reminding us of the ability he seemed to have lost. But, unfortunately, he is back to his struggles in spring training.

2017 was easily the worst of Joc Pederson’s major league career as a Dodger. He set career-lows in hits, home runs, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage, while nearly matching his rookie-year batting average (.210) with a .212 average.

The counting stats were low because of a lack of games, due to yet more injuries and being demoted to Triple-A. But, even the numbers he was on pace for would have been lower than the previous two seasons’ totals.

Once that demotion happened, some fans speculated that his career as a Dodger may have come to an end while others, like myself, believed that the demotion would potentially be a reset switch for the young outfielder to start fresh, just like it was for Yasiel Puig.

However, his struggled only continued in the minors, genuinely putting his career in Los Angeles in jeopardy. But, Pederson came on strong in the World Series, giving hope that he may be turning a corner.

Now, with Spring Training of 2018 in full swing, Joc has gone back to his struggles yet again. Yes, it is only spring training, and I usually never put much stock into it statistically. But, the fact that his numbers are not too far from what we have come to expect shows that it may be a pattern and unfortunately, legitimate.

This time of year is used to evaluate positional competition, and left field is the only position the Dodgers have yet to sort out. As it turns out, that is where Joc is fighting for a spot along with Andrew Toles and Matt Kemp.

Let’s compare the spring training numbers of the three guys fighting for a spot in left field:

Joc Pederson: .152/200/.212 and zero home runs in 33 at-bats

Matt Kemp: .379/.419/.862 and four home runs in 29 at-bats

Andrew Toles: .355/.353/.677 and two home runs in 31 at-bats

*As of Tuesday evening

There is something to be said of the discrepancy in statistics because no one has a rightful claim to the starting position. So, these numbers are arguably the best thing to go off when judging who should get the job.

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Andrew Toles looks as if his return from a torn ACL will be a strong one. He has the bat, when healthy, to win the starting job. Like Toles, Matt Kemp looks excellent, both with the bat and physically. It seems like the weight loss is making a difference for Kemp who lost over 40 pounds this past winter. A platoon of these two would be the Dodgers’ best option in left field.

At this point, I would put Toles and Kemp in left field as they are the more consistent players. Both Kemp and Toles have the ability to outplay Joc and do so more consistently. This also brings Joc’s future as a Dodger into question.

If he starts the season in Triple-A or starts in the show and struggles, it may be time to move on from the soon to be 26-year-old outfielder. The Dodgers have major league ready depth for all three positions in the outfield and have more arriving in a few years in the form of DJ Peters and Yusniel Diaz.

And, defensively, Pederson is average at best. He is no longer a center fielder because of Chris Taylor but he would have eventually been moved because his defense has slipped and he was horrific in 2017. Joc does not hold a defensive advantage over anyone anymore. There is no reason to keep wasting a spot on a struggling player, especially one who will be eligible for free agency after 2020.

And with options remaining, the Dodgers can put him down at Oklahoma City it is just a question of how long they would be willing to keep him there. He may have more value for another team who is willing to buy into his potential.

Next: Innings Plan for Walker Buehler

Once a heralded prospect,  it is time to seriously question Joc Pederson’s future in blue if things do not work out. The front office has stayed patient, but after this year, that patience should run out.

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