Coming out of the gate in 2015 the Los Angeles Dodgers, specifically their offense, could not be stopped. With a revamped lineup that manager Don Mattingly said was deeper than last season’s, outs rarely came cheaply or easily for opposing pitchers.
Adrian Gonzalez was the team’s hottest batter, and Howie Kendrick and Joc Pederson also presented a challenge at the plate. Offensive duos can be the spark plug for a struggling offense.
Last season Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez of the Detroit Tigers took the American League by storm. With Martinez now on the disabled list, new dominant hitting duos have emerged. According to Dave Schoenfield of ESPN, Gonzalez and Pederson rank in the top five:
5. Adrian Gonzalez/Joc Pederson, Los Angeles Dodgers
I was a little hesitant to include this pair because I believe they are due for regression. But right now they’re the only teammates both carrying a wOBA of .400 or higher, with Gonzalez ranking third in the majors at .447 and Pederson in 13th at .405.
Gonzalez’s OPS is up 200 points over where it’s been the past three seasons. What’s he doing? Crushing fastballs. From 2012-14, he hit .310 and slugged .505 against fastballs. This season, he’s hitting .414 and slugging .759, with six of his 10 home runs.
Pederson’s first two months in the majors have been impressive, showcasing a patient approach that results in a lot of walks and a lot of strikeouts while producing a .263/.392/.553 line. Impressively for a young hitter, six of his 12 home runs have coming against breaking balls or changeups. The projection systems don’t see him continuing this, projecting more of a .240/.330/.440 hitter. How he adjusts will be interesting to watch. If he does start to struggle a bit, however, you can just replace him on this list with Yasiel Puig when he returns.”
It is interesting that these two were chosen as the fifth-best duo in baseball when considering Pederson leads off and Gonzalez either bats third or fourth. That being said, two are a lot alike when it comes to hitting. Gonzalez has 11 years in the Majors under his belt, so it comes as no surprise the first baseman is performing much more consistently than the rookie.
Pederson does take a higher percentage of balls than Gonzalez, however he also takes more strikes. Gonzalez swings at 76.2 percent of strikes and makes contact on 90.1 percent of those swings. This is compared to Pederson, who swings at 68.1 percent of strikes and makes contact on 74.7 percent of those swings.
Although Pederson’s ability to see pitches is a strength, it at times is also a weakness. With only 65 Major-League games under his belt, the hopeful rookie should improve as he gains more experience and gets familiar with pitchers in the league.
Pederson has 12 home run to Gonzalez’s 10, which is good for the team lead, and the 23 year old also leads the Dodgers with 59 strikeouts — 23 more than second-on-the-team, Kendrick.
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