Joc Pederson: your leading runner for rookie of the year. Pederson started off at the beginning of the year in the bottom half of the order and was mashing the ball with authority. Don Mattingly had us all scratching our heads when he refused to bat Joc Pederson first in favor of the aging Jimmy Rollins. But after tremendous production from Pederson and lack thereof from Rollins, Mattingly finally made the switch.
Batting mostly from the bottom of the order in March and April, Pederson walked at an ungodly 22.1% and batted his way to an inflated .406 BABIP en route to a .440 wOBA. His strikeout sat at an ugly 28.6% but with his walk rate also in the 20’s, it balanced out nicely.
Upon his move to the leadoff spot, Pederson has gotten very aggressive. His walk rate has plunged, and his strikeout rate has increased; sitting at a 12% and 30%, respectively. Despite these negative trends, Joc has adjusted nicely and is still hitting the ball with authority… against righties. All of 12 of his home runs have come off of righties and he has compiled a total of 19 extra-base hits against them. Against lefties, Pederson has only collected one extra-base hit, a double off of Madison Bumgarner on 5/21, and has walked only once. Given these struggles, Joc has hit a bit of snag lately dropping his average tremendously and has neutralized his BABIP a bit. He has hit for the occasional home run but that’s about it.
Is it time to panic? Absolutely not, Joc is a rookie and has only 35 plate appearances against lefties, making it a small sample size. He’s raised his average against lefties above .200 at the end of May suggesting he is starting to adjust. However, for those who own Pederson, be aware he is young and is still going through the growing pains of being in the majors. Continue to send him out in your lineups, but be aware that the production he had in the bottom order may not continue through the year in the leadoff unless he adjusts. Given his talent, that’s certainly possible.