Joc Pederson’s calling card has always been power since he made his way to the big leagues with the Dodgers. Now he has become an above-average corner outfielder.
Ever since breaking into the big leagues with the Dodgers, Joc Pederson has always been known for his power. He mashed his way into the home run derby as a rookie and he once again participated in the HR derby this year and put on a show. Joc is in the midst of another strong season at the plate.
Entering Tuesday’s game, Joc Pederson will have a wRC+ of 116 and twenty-four home runs. That leaves him just one home run shy from his 2018 total and three home runs shy of setting a new career-high. This season has been an interesting one for Joc as the Dodgers tried him out at first base.
While the first base experiment turned ugly and coincidentally he started slumping when he first appeared at first base, that experiment is now over. The Dodgers have found a new way of keeping Joc’s bat in the lineup against right-handed pitching and that is in right field. Cody Bellinger has gone back to first base with Max Muncy sliding over to second base.
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After a couple of weeks in which the Dodger defense was awful, the defense has settled in ever since Joc moved to right field and Bellinger took over at first base. It remains to be seen how Muncy at second base plays out going forward but his DRS of 5 and recent play has been more than good enough.
In right field, Joc has performed well defensively in the 64 innings he has played there so far. Joc has a DRS of 3 and a UZR/150 rating of 18.7 in right field. In left field, he has been even better with a DRS of 5 and a UZR/150 rating of 17.9. While he was a below-average centerfielder and first baseman, Joc has become an above-average corner outfielder.
As long as Joc keeps blasting home runs, or being “Joc Pop”, the Dodgers may not be able to give Gavin Lux an extended look in September. Max Muncy has become the “regular” second baseman against right-handed pitching and Bellinger is back at first base. Once Alex Verdugo returns that will only reinforce LA’s current lineup configuration against right-handed starters.
It’s easy to overlook Joc with Cody Bellinger producing at an MVP level and Will Smith hitting his way into the Dodgers’ rookie record books, but Pederson is having a very strong season. As long as he keeps producing the Dodgers have no reason to pull him from the lineup. Especially with him playing above-average defense in right field.