Joc Pederson has been a staple in the Dodgers lineup over the past five years. While there are some obvious flaws, he has generally been a model of consistency.
2019 was a particularly impressive campaign for Pederson, topping a career high in both batting average and home runs.
|Joc Pederson (2019)|
.@yungjoc650's last 6 at-bats:
— MLB (@MLB) September 5, 2019
Additionally, Pederson improved defensively. His first base experiment ended miserably, but he otherwise gave the Dodgers strong defense in both left and right field. For the first time in his career, Joc ranked above average in all three of Fangraphs’ Defensive Runs Saved, Ultimate Zone Rating, and Baseball Savant’s Outs Above Average.
Joc Speederson. pic.twitter.com/fAONpVas6a
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) August 7, 2019
Despite all this, there are still some parts of Joc’s game that could use work this Winter.
In his early years, #JocWalk was a popular hashtag on Twitter due to his high walk rate. That hasn’t been the case as of late.
Pederson’s walk rate dipped below 10% (league average) for each of the past two seasons after four consecutive where it was above. This is nothing to panic over, as Joc has still been a very good hitter, but it raises the question of how complete of a hitter he could be if he increased his base on balls rate.
This notion goes for essentially every hitter, but is especially prevalent to Joc as we have already seen this ability to draw walks. We know he has it in him, it’s just a question of if it can be implemented once again.
Staying on Off-speed Pitches
This has been a problem for quite sometime, but took an especially bad turn in 2019.
As seen above, Joc’s barrel rate on off-speed pitches took a significant blow. Opposing scouting reports started to get privy to this glaring weakness, and Joc began to see more of this pitch type than ever before.
Joc will need to figure out a way to plug this hole, as he will continue to be pounded with off-speed pitches. If he is able to make this adjustment, pitchers will be forced to start throwing more fastballs and breaking balls again, which are Joc’s bread and butter.
This has been a topic of controversy for many Dodger fans. Most are frustrated by Joc never starting against left handed pitching, even if he is red hot, while others understand his horrendous career numbers versus southpaws. In 375 plate appearances, he has sported just a measly 57 wRC+.
During the regular season this is not an issue as the Dodgers have plenty of depth to mix and match. The problem is the postseason, where teams are much more aggressive in using their bullpen early. When this happens, Joc sees lefties as early as the third or fourth inning, forcing his removal from the game. This comes back to bite the Dodgers in the later innings when one of their best bats versus right-handed pitching is out of the game.
No one is asking Joc to become a lefty masher, or even a full-time starter. But if Joc can at least be respectable against southpaws, it would greatly help the Dodgers preserve their bench pieces in the playoffs, as well as give them a bit more versatility and depth.
At the end of the day, Joc serves his role extremely well as a right-handed pitching masher who plays solid defense. However, if Joc can increase his walk rate, hit off-speed pitches, and just be serviceable against lefties, he would provide the Dodgers with far more value. Joc’s days in Dodger Blue may be dwindling due to his upcoming free agency next winter, and if he wants to reward himself with a big contract, those three steps are the best place to start.