When the Los Angeles Dodgers traded away Matt Kemp in the offseason, they freed up a starting spot for their best young prospect, Joc Pederson.
Pederson has rewarded the Dodgers for that move so far in this young season, by impressing with both his glove and his bat. Since Dodgers manager Don Mattingly inserted his centerfielder in the lead off spot, the Dodgers are 4-1. Furthermore, Pederson homered in four consecutive games, making him the first Dodger rookie to do that since Bill Sudakis in 1969.
According to Bill Plunkett of the OC Register, Dodgers second baseman Howie Kendrick believes that Pederson is setting the table in the leadoff spot:
I think Joc’s been setting the tone at the top of the lineup,” said Kendrick of a Dodgers team that has a three-game winning streak with Pederson batting in the leadoff spot. “He’s been swinging the bat well and getting it done on defense too.”
Pederson is batting .292 on the season, but his .421 on-base percentage ranks eighth in the NL, and he is fourth overall in walks with 19. He has shown a recent power surge, as his five home runs since being moved to the leadoff spot give him seven on the season, putting him one behind Adrian Gonzalez for the team lead.
The 23-year-old became the first player in 80 years to hit 30 homers and steal 30 bases in the Pacific Coast Leage (Triple-A) last year. He’s only stolen one base in four attempts so far this season, but as long as he remains in the leadoff role he will have plenty of opportunities to steal bases.
Couple all of that with Gold Glove caliber defense in centerfield, and Los Angeles may have just found its next star.
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