The Los Angeles Dodgers have had a frustrating second half and are in a close battle with the San Francisco Giants for the National League West division title. While there are many reasons as to why the team hasn’t played well, one particular player who has struggled since the All-Star break is Joc Pederson.
The rookie sensation had a fantastic first half, hitting 20 home runs and found himself on many highlight reels thanks to his outstanding defense in center field. However, his numbers have deteriorated drastically. He is currently batting .214 on the season, has hit just three home runs in the second half and went through a lengthy period where he struggled to draw walks.
With the emergence of fellow rookie Kiké Hernandez, Pederson has frequently found himself on the bench as of late. While Dodgers manager Don Mattingly recently voiced his support for Hernandez, he hasn’t given up on Pederson, via ESPN’s Mark Saxon:
We have no problem with Joc. It’s not like he’s been a prospect that comes up and just doesn’t care,” Mattingly said. “He’s totally actually the other direction, probably cares too much, probably letting it bother him too much. I have no doubt that Joc’s going to end up being a great player. But at this moment, we feel like Enrique is a better alternative.”
Mattingly added coaches continue to work with Pederson, but isn’t sure if improvement will need to wait until the offseason:
I don’t necessarily know if it’s now or it will take until the offseason when he can really make true changes,” Mattingly said. “But you can’t just say, ‘Hey, we’ll wait until next year.’ I think you try to go to work. He’s been trying to do it, so hopefully they’ll fall into place for him.”
While the 23 year old’s average is down, Pederson does have a .413 on-base percentage in August and still leads the team in walks. He last started Aug. 21 and may continue to be saddled on the bench in the coming games as the Dodgers will face two left-handed starters over their three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds.