Los Angeles Dodgers rookie center fielder Joc Pederson hit five home runs in the last five games, and had the streak snapped only by a few feet Thursday as he doubled off the top of the left field fence.
Pederson’s nonetheless leads the Dodgers and all rookies with 17 home runs, and is behind only Nelson Cruz and Bryce Harper, who both have 18 home runs. Despite the success Pederson has had, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly believes the best still lies ahead, according to Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times:
So I still think the best is yet to come for Joc. That doesn’t mean he’s going to hit 60 homers or anything but, I think, just the consistency of at-bats, the best is yet to come.”
Both literally and figuratively Pederson has been hit-or-miss this season. He’s batting .266/.390/.603 with the 17 home runs and 32 RBIs, but also has 65 strikeouts. Mattingly addressed some of the concern over Pederson’s on-base percentage and identified a benchmark of sorts:
Well, you want him to get on-base and I know he’s close to .400 on-base, so I think he’s doing OK,” Mattingly said. “We like what Joc’s doing. We can cut up any part of it and take it anywhere. We could hit him sixth, we could hit him eighth, we could hit him ninth, he’s going to do the same stuff. It’s not really going to matter where we hit him.”
Jimmy Rollins was originally designated as the Dodgers’ leadoff hitter, but his ongoing slump forced Mattingly’s hand in making a change. Rollins was bumped to the two-hole and has since been dropped to batting seventh or eighth on any given night. Mattingly said prior to Thursday’s series opener against the St. Louis Cardinals he doesn’t have any intentions on moving Pederson out of the leadoff spot.
2015 Sports Spectacular — Chester Pitts