Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that Joc Pederson is a World Series hero. Furthermore, Pederson was discussed in offseason trade talks; and then relegated into the dreaded role of ‘platoon player’ when the 2019 season began. In a word, Pederson began this year as a relative afterthought.
What has resulted through the first month of the season is a player who has shown good value to his ball club. Surely, it would have been easy for Pederson to become a malcontent or ask for a trade where he would be given a more steady path to playing time. However, that’s not what Joc Pederson did.
Recently, he gave a nice interview to Pedro Moura of The Athletic; which made for an excellent read. Pederson told Moura how he has handled this bout of adversity to make himself a better teammate and player.
On Joc Pederson thriving as a platoon player after years of destructive self-doubt, or: How He Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. “I haven’t lost the love for baseball. I think I’ve changed my view on how to love baseball.” https://t.co/vLhqtBRSgr
— Pedro Moura (@pedromoura) April 18, 2019
Initially, Pederson was frustrated before the 2018 season began. Then, he was listed on the depth chart as an ‘extra outfielder’. Pederson decided to immediately get with his mental skills coach and adjusting his thoughts about his role.
“I decided I could either handle it in a negative way, being angry or upset, or I could work on things,” he said. “I know I’m gonna be in a messed-up situation. I know I’m gonna be frustrated. I want to play every day. Who doesn’t want to play every day? But what can I do to keep my mind in a good place?”
Now, Pederson is one of baseball’s most productive players at the time of this post. While playing exclusively against right-handed pitching, he boasts an OPS above 1.000 and eight home runs to put him amongst lead leaders.
Pederson told Moura that his driving force is as simple as it is admirable: his love for the game.
“I haven’t lost the love for baseball,” Pederson said. “I think I’ve changed my view on how to love baseball.”
I feel like as the years go on – and Pederson is now 27-years old – he gets easier to root for. Without question, you have a guy here who has been through so many stages as a professional. From early stardom, to busted, and back again. These are the stories I seem to enjoy most. One quote I read in Moura’s interview with Pederson really sums this up.
“I’ve played their game,” Pederson said. “I’ve done that, where I’m in his office, asking, ‘Can I play versus lefties? Let me play.’ And then I’m not even successful against righties because I’m [expletive] up in the head. I’m losing, and who looks bad? I look bad.”
Lastly, Pederson has shown signs of maturity and selflessness that every good baseball team must have at some point from it’s 21st or 22nd guy on the roster. And when Pederson is your 22nd guy on the roster say – that’s pretty scary. I give Joc a lot of credit for his mental approach, and continuing to grind even when it’s clearly not the ideal situation he would hope for.
Life – and baseball – is all about taking the situation and making the best you can of it at the moment. For a 27-year old, Pederson deserves a world of credit and support.
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