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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

FANTASY BASEBALL CRISIS POINT: JOC PEDERSON OUTFIELDER LOS ANGELES DODGERS

When a minor league players put up a statistical line of 33 home runs and 30 stolen bases in a given season, the hype meter in looking ahead to his potential fantasy baseball impact at the major league level begins to go into overdrive.  Such was the scenario that unfolded this past drafting season when it came to Los Angeles Dodgers powerful outfielder Joc Pederson who posted that splendid 33/30 line in 2014 at Triple-A which was so impressive that the team guaranteed him a starting spot in the field/lineup for the beginning of 2015.  Once the Dodgers cleared up some outfield space by moving Matt Kemp to the San Diego Padres, Pederson was set to unleash his vast potential on major league pitching right out of the gate.  As a result, Pederson saw his name skyrocket in 2015 fantasy baseball drafts as visions of at least a 20/20 danced in his prospective owners' heads and at the age of only 23, more improvement into the future.  Pederson went along with the immense expectations early on as well, in particular with the power as he smacked 4 home runs with a .298 average in April and than followed that up with an even more impressive 9 and 7 home runs in May/June.  As a result Pederson was selected to the All-Star Game and he even showed off his power in a very good appearance in the Home Run Derby.  At the halfway mark of the season, Pederson sat with 20 home runs and 40 RBI which were incredibly impressive numbers for a rookie.  The .230 average was not so much but being a young slugger who tends to strike out a bunch, it was not a total shock.

Unfortunately as often happens with young hitters, the grind of a long MLB season for the first time and opposing pitchers figuring our weaknesses have conspired to make Pederson as gigantic fantasy baseball liability in the second half.  Things have gotten so bad that Pederson's formerly giddy owners can't even put him in the lineup, so bad is his slump.  For the month of July, Pederson hit a hard-to-fathom .169 with only 1 home run and than somehow did even worse in August by hitting a horrific .122 with 2 home runs as of this writing.  As a result Pederson has been dropped out of the leadoff spot by the Dodgers and he is showing absolutely no signs of getting out of this massive slump. 

So we can say that the grind of a long season and opposing pitchers figuring out Pederson's weaknesses are a big part of the problem but that is not the entire story here.  Pederson has not helped himself one bit with a season-long strikeout problem that now has him up to 142 strikeouts in only 393 at-bats.  In addition, where has all the minor league speed gone?  After swiping those 30 bases a year ago, Pederson has managed only 3 stolen bases in 2015 and has been caught a crazy 6 times.  Clearly Pederson has not gotten down his stolen base timing and we even have to wonder if his speed doesn't translate to stealing bases at the major league level.  Thus looking at Pederson as a power/speed dynamo is not longer an option.  Also with Pederson not showing any signs of progress from his free swinging ways, opposing pitchers will continue to not give him anything to swing at, allowing him to continually get himself out chasing.  Thus there are a vast array of negative issues that threaten to diminish what could be a terrific young career.

Overall from what we can clearly see this season, Joc Pederson is a major work in progress who has a ways to go before he can be counted on now as anything more than a low-end outfielder 2 at best.  IN fact Pederson really is only an outfielder 3 given that he only helps in home runs and RBI and is a major liability in batting average.  We can still be very high on Pederson's ability going forward into his career but the light has also dimmed somewhat overall on his immediate outlook. 

 

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