Dodgers: Joc Pederson Slowly Starting to Prove Us All Wrong
Going into the season, Joc Pederson’s spot on the Dodgers’ roster was one of the gripes fans had with the front office. But now, his play should have us apologizing to both him and management.
All those that believed that Joc Pederson would be having a good season for the Dodgers, please raise your hands. Ok, put them down, liars. The only ones that should have lifted them are the people that continuously defended him, leading into the season, like Andrew Friedman & Co. I, for one, was not one of them, and I am glad to be proven wrong so far.
Pederson has provided a much-needed spark for a Dodgers offense that is starting to come alive in recent weeks. Regarding Joc, he is just starting to heat up. However, his improved play has been flying a tad bit under-the-radar, until yesterday, when he had another multi-homer game.
On the season, he is hitting .272/.345/.523 with seven home runs entering Saturday’s matchup with the Atlanta Braves. However, before the Dodgers embarked upon their most road trip, he was hitting a paltry .246/.333/.385 with two home runs.
But on the road trip, he had five home runs and two doubles in all 17 June plate appearances. His 1.941 OPS for the month has raised his numbers exponentially. It’s still early in the month, but it is looking like June was the refresh button Joc needed because, after a strong April, his production went down in May.
He looks a like a completely different player. More mature and giving better at-bats. Perhaps the most impressive part of 2018 for Joc is his 14.4% strikeout rate, well below his career mark of 25.4%, leading to a career-best .71 walks-to-strikeout ratio.
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If numbers hold, his batting average, slugging percentage, and OPS would all be career-highs, along with his 133 wRC+. Weighted Runs Created attempts to quantify a player’s total offensive value and measure it by runs, and Weighted Runs Created Plus attempts to compare it to the entire league, with 100 being average.
However, Joc is historically a streaky player, so you must be wary about this just being a hot streak. He went through a similar phase last year before getting ice-cold and taking a trip to Oklahoma City. So do not be surprised if he goes into a prolonged slump. But he is also a guy that had a .900 OPS in the last 62 games of 2016 after his return from injury, so he does have the ability to have sustained success.
He will never be a .300 hitter, but somewhere around .260-.270 with an OBP in the range of .350-.360 is plausible. Currently, though, he still serves as a platoon option at best due to his struggles against left-handed pitchers. But him serving as a potential fourth outfielder, with a healthy team, the way he is hitting is a bonus. And to his credit, he’s only struck out twice on 21 plate appearances against southpaws this year.
FanGraphs still does not love his defense in center field, but their metrics like him just fine in left. And long-term that may be his best fit because Corey Seager will move back to shortstop, pushing Chris Taylor into center field.
It is time to lay off Joc. He, along with Matt Kemp, is proving the doubters wrong and are carrying a hefty load of the offense. Throw in what looks to be a resurgent Cody Bellinger, and Chirs Taylor and Yasiel Puig who are on fire, and the offense could be what the team needs to offset the multitude pitching injuries the team has suffered.
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We need to give Joc Pederson the credit he deserves, and at the same time, apologize to the front office as well because they stood in his corner every step of the way while fans were clamoring for Pederson’s demotion. This situation has shown it’s all about patience.