Dodgers: Joc Pederson’s Journey Back to the Home Run Derby

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 04: Joc Pederson #31 of the Los Angeles Dodgers rounds the bases after hitting a home run during the first inning against the Atlanta Braves during Game One of the National League Division Series at Dodger Stadium on October 4, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 04: Joc Pederson #31 of the Los Angeles Dodgers rounds the bases after hitting a home run during the first inning against the Atlanta Braves during Game One of the National League Division Series at Dodger Stadium on October 4, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /
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CINCINNATI, OH – JULY 13: National League All-Star Joc Pederson #31 Los Angeles Dodgers bats during the Gillette Home Run Derby presented by Head & Shoulders at the Great American Ball Park on July 13, 2015 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

2015: The Rookie of the Y̶e̶a̶r̶  First Half

We all remember the Joc Pederson allure from when he first got called up to the big league club. The front office turned down any and all deals regarding Pederson, even if the return would have been a star like left-handed ace Cole Hamels.

He followed up his break out Double-A season in 2013 (22 homers and 26 steals), with a massive 2014 campaign at Triple-A, winning the Dodgers Minor League Player of the Year with his 33 home run, 30 steal season.

And just like Yasiel Puig, Pederson was electric right when he came up to the majors.

In his first 20 games as a Dodger in March and April of 2015, the 6’1 lefty mashed .298/.461/.596 with 5 doubles, 4 home runs, and 17 walks. He was looking like the future four-hitter in what was a stacked Dodgers lineup at the time.

He did more than live up to this hype in May and June. At least in the power production department. In May, Pederson popped 9 more dingers but struck out a staggering 37 times in 123 plate appearances. In June, more of the same, as the suddenly average-less Pederson struck out 35 times while mashing 7 more home runs.

When it was all said and done, Pederson’s 20 first-half home runs were more than enough to power him into the Home Run Derby, representing the National League as a 2015 All-Star. And he didn’t disappoint. Pederson swatted more home runs than all of his opponents in the Derby until the final round, in which he suffered a defeat at the hands of Todd Frazier.

His first half numbers were no doubt impressive both on the good and bad ends of the spectrum, especially for a rookie: 15 doubles, 20 home runs, and 107 punchouts to go along with a .230 batting average.

But despite his early success, his May and June struggle to get hits would be exacerbated through the dog days of summer. In 61 second-half games, Pederson limped to the finish line with a .178 batting average with just 6 home runs and 4 doubles while striking out more than once per game on average (63 strikeouts in 61 games).

This historic collapse would prove costly, as Pederson would receive only 1 NL Rookie of the Year vote, losing unanimously to the Cubs’ Kris Bryant, and these same struggles would continue for much of the next two seasons.