Joc Pederson came into the season as a highly-touted prospect that was expected to be the Los Angeles Dodgers everyday center fielder after they traded away former All-Star Matt Kemp.
Pederson had a tough time in limited opportunities last September with the Dodgers, but hit 30 home runs and stole 30 bases in Triple-A. Even with those numbers, it was not his offense, but his defense, that was supposed to impress the most. While Yasiel Puig played well in center last season and Kemp was a two-time Gold Glove award winner, the Dodgers haven’t had a true center fielder in some time.
The rookie center fielder has already put together quite a list of highlight-reel catches and that led manager Don Mattingly to sing his praise when asked about it.
“He’s probably the best center fielder I’ve been around, as far as seeing every day,” Mattingly said.
Mattingly played 14 seasons with the New York Yankees, then coached the team before joining the Dodgers as a coach and now manager. During his time playing, he played with Bernie Williams, who won four Gold Gloves.
He was asked if Pederson was better than Los Angeles Angeles of Anaheim center fielder Mike Trout, but Mattingly declined to give a real answer by saying that he doesn’t see Trout every day. The manager was then asked how much value Pederson brings with the glove. “I don’t know how to put a number on him. I’m sure there’s metrics,” Mattingly said.
The 23-year-old has been worth six Defensive Runs Saved so far this season and has just one error on the season. He’s made plenty of great catches, including one in the bottom of the 9th inning to rob Justin Upton of the San Diego Padres of a game-winning hit.
Mattingly credits Pederson with making tough plays look easy, and says it’s because of his routes to the ball and running to his spots instead of tracking the ball the entire time.
If he continues his play, Pederson could find himself with his first Gold Glove of his career.
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