The 2015 season is almost halfway over and the Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder is on pace to hit 41 homers and drive in 82 runs with a .390 on-base percentage. No, it’s not Matt Kemp, and no, it’s not Yasiel Puig.
Dodgers rookie center fielder Joc Pederson has taken the league by storm in 2015, leading all rookies with 19 home runs and ranking fourth in the Major Leagues with 51 walks.
While he has been great offensively, batting in the leadoff spot for most of the season, the 23-year-old has been even better defensively. According to ESPN’s Mark Saxon, one person impressed by Pederson’s defense is his manager:
It’s not so much those unbelievable catches against the wall, but more ones in those little seams in the gap that are a little short, that seemed like they dropped so much more last year. He gets to a lot of those balls,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said.
Pederson has five defensive runs saved this season, which ranks second among National League center fielders. He also has four outfield assists, which ranks eighth among Major League center fielders. He has also made just one error on the season which comes to a .993 fielding percentage.
Gold Glove-caliber defense in center field is a luxury the Dodgers have not been able to have in the last couple years. Whether it was an aging Matt Kemp, or corner outfielders like Andre Ethier and Yasiel Puig, the Dodgers did not have a true center fielder until Pederson came along and began robbing hitters of extra base hits left and right.
Whether it’s with his bat or his glove, Pederson has opened many eyes in 2015 as he seems to be that game changer that the Dodgers organization hoped he would be when they traded Kemp and Dee Gordon and didn’t resign Hanley Ramirez in the offseason.
Don Mattingly Says Joc Pederson Is Best Center Fielder He’s Been Around