Taken in the 11th round of the 2010 Draft, Joc Pederson has faced high expectations for much of his young career. When the Los Angeles Dodgers needed to call up an outfielder in June of 2013, many were surprised Pederson was passed over in favor or Yasiel Puig, his Double-A teammate.
Pederson advanced to Triple-A last season, needing to wait for his opportunity in the crowded Dodgers outfield. He was among the September call-ups when active rosters expanded, and took hold of the starting job in center field during Spring Training.
While Pederson has provided Gold Glove-caliber defense in center, which the Dodgers haven’t had in years, his performance at the plate has been a mixture of success and frustration. Pederson’s work ethic certainly is not in question, but New York Mets broadcaster Keith Hernandez took issue with the rookie’s batting practice session, via ESPN’s Buster Olney:
Strong words from Keith Hernandez about Joc Pederson's pre-game preparation of mashing fly balls: "Worthless batting practice."
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 25, 2015
Hernandez’s comments came during Friday’s game between the Dodgers and Mets, and he went on to add Pederson is a “five o’clock hitter.” It’s been customary for a handful of Dodgers to engage in a friendly home run derby-type of competition during batting practice this season, which is what Hernandez presumably witnessed and led to his criticism.
Pederson finished 1-for-5 Friday night with an RBI double. He’s batting .228/.356/.461 on the season and is tied for second-most in the Majors with 117 strikeouts heading into play Saturday. However, he’s also drawn 59 walks, which leads the Dodgers, and he tops all rookies with 20 home runs; his 42 RBIs are tied for second among rookies.
Suffice to say Pederson compares favorably to a Mets roster, albeit decimated by injury, that’s struggled in nearly every aspect at the plate.