If Pederson does in fact post similar numbers to those, he will certainly win the NL Rookie of the Year and might even receive a few MVP votes. To compare, ZiPS projects him to hit .239/.337/.420 with 22 home runs, ultimately being worth 3.3 WAR, while Steamer thinks he’ll record a .705 OPS with 20 home runs and being worth 2.2 WAR.
If there’s anything in common between these three projection systems, it’s that Pederson will hit plenty of home runs, draw many walks, and provide solid defense throughout the season. The strikeouts will be there, but who doesn’t want a player with tremendous power, excellent plate discipline, and near-elite defense?
And while it wouldn’t be fair to immediately compare him to Kemp, Bill James projects him to slash .289/.353/.495 with 25 home runs. Keep in mind those statistics were based on if Kemp was still a member of the Dodgers, so it’s not unreasonable to expect a decline with his transition to Petco Park. Even though those stats look awfully similar to Pederson’s, his poor defense and health concerns vastly separate the two in terms of overall value for the 2015 season.
With Spring Training approaching, it seems inevitable that center field is Pederson’s job to lose with Yasiel Puig slotting back to right field. Should Pederson struggle, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him begin the season in Triple-A, judging by Don Mattingly’s comment that him sitting on the bench doesn’t make sense.
The only other options for the center field job are recently acquired Chris Heisey and Andre Ethier, who is surprisingly still on the roster. It obviously wouldn’t be ideal for either of them to start, as a big part of the decision for trading Kemp was to free up a spot in the outfield for Pederson.
No matter what happens, Pederson is figured to be a large part of the Dodgers’ plans for this upcoming season and many, many seasons after that. From his outstanding power, to his impressive patience at the plate, and of course, his Gold Glove-caliber defense, it’s no wonder why Los Angeles covets him so much. He has all the makings of the next exciting rookie to take MLB by storm, and 2015 could very well be the year we see that.