Classic baseball knowledge states that left-handed hitters do not hit left-handed pitchers very well, so when the Los Angeles Dodgers rookie center fielder Joc Pederson hit his first Major-League home run off a lefty on Sunday, it caught attention.
Pederson hit another home run against a left-handed pitcher the following day and has slugged four homers in the last four games. When asked about the perception he struggles against lefties, the rookie center fielder took exception to that idea, according to ESPN’s Mark Saxon:
You guys are the ones who say I can’t hit left-handed pitching,” Pederson said. “I hit them fine last year, so I guess you guys can tell me.”
Last season in Triple-A Pederson hit .299 against left-handers, belting 14 home runs, including and .598 slugging percentage; compared to .573 against right-handed pitching.
Although he only has 42 plate appearances against lefties this season, Pederson is slashing .306/.405/.583 against them compared to .248/.378/.589 against righties. His BABIP against lefties is an impressive, even if unsustainable, .421.
However, the rookie strikes out 33.3 percent of the time against left-handed pitching which is five percent more than when he’s faced a righty. At this point in the season, Pederson is on pace to strikeout an even 200 times in 2015. The month of May was not friendly to the center fielder as he hit just .236, however, he’s batting .315 in the last two weeks of the season.
Pederson is currently tied for second in the Majors in home runs and he leads all rookies with 17. He is also in the top 10 among all players in walks, largely due to his selective eye. However, his selective eye may also be the source of his struggles with strikeouts.
Even though the rookie is having a breakout season, he still ranks 10th in the latest National League All-Star voting update. While Pederson may have an outside shot at making the All-Star Game, he’s more than stating his case for the Home Run Derby.