Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson opened a lot of eyes in the first half of the season with his play on both offense and defense. At one point he was top-five in the National League in both home runs and walks, while playing Gold Glove caliber defense in center.
Although his defense is still outstanding, as most rookies do, Pederson is currently going through a streak where he is struggling at the plate. In his last three games, he is 0-for-13 with seven strikeouts, prompting Dodgers manager Don Mattingly to move him from the lead off spot to the seventh spot in Wednesday’s game against the Oakland Athletics.
Mattingly recently discussed that move, stating that he thought it would help the rookie not get frustrated. “We been talking about Joc [Pederson] for a few days. He seemed frustrated [Tuesday] night. I didn’t really want to keep seeing that,” Mattingly said.
The 23-year-old was moved to the leadoff spot at the beginning of May where he thrived, hitting 13 homers from May 1-June 3, including a stretch of five straight games with a homer. Pederson has only homered once in the month of July though, which helped Mattingly make his decision to move Pederson down in the order and veteran shortstop Jimmy Rollins back up to the leadoff spot.
“Just try to take a little pressure off him and put him back down towards the bottom. I know Jimmy [Rollins] can handle the top,” Mattingly said.
Another area of concern is that Pederson has not drawn a walk in 10 games, something that was one of his biggest strengths in the first half of the season.
There’s no need for Dodger fans to panic yet, as he is just 23 years old and going through a slump, but if the Dodgers want to make a championship run the Pederson’s bat will need to play a part in that.