The Los Angeles Dodgers have a great core of players, and a talented roster. That’s why Dodgers Nation has decided to run a ‘Why We Love’ series, featuring some of your favorite Dodgers players. Our third installment focuses on possibly the most popular current Dodgers player. Today’s installment brings to light one of the Dodgers who makes you smile most, Joc Pederson.
After a short audition in September of 2014, Joc Pederson burst on the scene in the first half of 2015 with one of the more impressive stretches of power-hitting I can recall from a young player. Pederson amassed 20 home runs in that first half of baseball, prompting an invite to the 2015 Home Run Derby in Cincinnati. The young slugger advanced to the finals of that tournament, eventually losing in walk-off fashion to champion Todd Frazier.
And then began Pederson’s long, strange trip through Major League Baseball. He would finish with just 26 homers, hitting six the rest of the way in 2016. The batting average plummeted to a meager .210, with many fans declaring that the derby itself ruined a promising young player’s swing.
Of course, this is never quite the case. A singular event like a home run hitting contest is never the cause of ruination of a player. The truth is – the problems were on the horizon prior to the derby. Pederson was a tremendous young power hitter but failed to do things that complete hitters do like use the entire field. Still, he finished sixth that season in Rookie of the Year voting.
The on-base skills were evident at that point, as Pederson drew 92 walks in his first full year. That would continue into the following season, when he hit 25 home runs and had an OPS of .847 in over 100 fewer plate appearances. Yet, Pederson remained a pull-happy power hitter who struck out in abundance.
Things came to a head in 2017 when he hit just .212 in the regular season with 11 home runs and 35 runs batted in. By season’s end he was relegated to mostly a reserve role. Pederson still managed to hit three huge home runs in the World Series, showing flashes of the brilliance that once made him the darling of Dodgers Nation as a young player.
Everyone loves a good comeback story. In 2018, Pederson has become a more composed and all-around offensive player. Through 94 games played his OPS is north of .880, and hits lead-off against right-handed pitching. The adjustment period for Pederson happened early on in the year. While the power numbers weren’t there – a light had clearly gone on. Pederson was displaying patience in his at-bats and using more of the entire field. He’s cut his strikeouts down by a large margin (15.4 percent from a career 24.8 percent). At first, Joc seemed to sacrifice power for putting the ball in play. Then, the home runs began to come in bunches.
Pederson is playing the best baseball of his career, and is an integral piece of the 2018 Dodgers. He is another member of the team that is extremely easy to love.
Why We Love Joc Pederson:
Greg Bergman (@BergmanGreg): Joc could have folded and been a throw away and toiled in the minors for the rest of his career, but he fought through all of the adversity and proved himself in the World Series last year. He has reinvented himself to be a consist on-base guy with some power that is a reliable lead off guy so far. I love that he proved that you shouldn’t give up on young guys that had strong rookie seasons and then struggled. Love some JocPop!
AJ Gonzalez (@AJontheguitar): I’ll admit, I’ve been down on him before. I have spoken in great detail into how his swing was broken, his approach was atrocious, and his ‘head turning’ after a lumberjack type swing was akin to a 5 year old trying to kill every pitch he saw. It’s because of this that I I’m such a big fan. He has battled his way back to be a legitimately good leadoff hitter, and his power seems to be back, without his overly high K percentage. He is the prime example of perseverance and persistence.
Clint Evans (@Diamondhoggers): I remember the first time I saw Joc live and in person was the derby. At that time, I thought I was watching a young Ted Williams in Dodger Blue. Obviously, it hasn’t played out exactly to that script, but he’s a valuable offensive player in this game. Pederson is a reminder that not every young player goes straight to superstardom. Sometimes there are bumps and turns along the way, and you can still experience a nice career and contribute to some great teams. The adjustments in his approach are commendable, and will prolong his career as a big leaguer. He seems like a great teammate and a guy who would be fun to play ball with.
And then there’s this. I saw someone post this on twitter as ‘basically every Joc Pederson interview’. It basically is true.
That’s Joc if I ever saw him.
Why Love You Joc Pederson
I’ve always supported him, but really became a fan when he slumped, never said a word, and just worked to get better. Never seen a Dodger that twitter fans turned on so hard or so fast – and that includes Baez. I’ll always be in his corner
— Troy (@TheRaterpillar) July 24, 2018
Love the fact that he’s matured as a player. His swing has leveled out some and he still has the pop when he has a chance to use it, yet work an at bat when the Dodgers need it. His single in the ninth was that of a guy who’s working to get better.
— Tom Riordan (@triordan14) July 24, 2018
Never a doubt of his talent. Not afraid of the big stage, and always kept pushing through despite adversity when things weren't going well. He's a bonafide Dodger, a good man and a great brother.
— Jordan Aguilar ? (@unlimited_stick) July 24, 2018
Because even though he is a stellar major league ballplayer, he has stayed true to his brother and brought him along for the ride. That, is so cool.
— RCPH (@RCPHinc) July 24, 2018
Joc is not only a great a great player but a great person and he has a lot to offer the team and my hope for him never goes away. I know he can be a big part of the team and I am a firm believe he needs to be a part of the team to win the title.
— Jesse-Michael ? (@b1vcksheep) July 25, 2018
He has fun. In the lineup or not.
He loves being here.
— Bert Calderón (@TheRealArcalde) July 24, 2018
Because his brother's THE champ! pic.twitter.com/tcn1UyLPNT
— Danny Watt (@patriotpedaler) July 24, 2018
Because he brings joy to the game and is going to be a great dad!
— Shady (@Shady52503157) July 24, 2018
he always have smile on his face and he has been hitting well. #DODGERS ???????
— Jin (@jjpearl76) July 24, 2018
Lucky To Have Joc Pederson as a Dodger
Whether it’s the fun he has with his brother champ, the adjustments he’s made at the plate, or the joy he has playing the game; the player the Dodgers drafted in the 11th round of the 2010 draft has been a success. It’s great to take a step back and appreciate guys like this who may never be superstars – but who are solid everyday contributors to your favorite team. It’s clear that Dodgers Nation really does appreciate (and love) Joc Pederson.
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