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Saturday, February 6, 2016

2016 FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: JOC PEDERSON OUTFIELDER LOS ANGELES DODGERS

One of the more hyped sleepers coming into the 2015 fantasy baseball season (no doubt with a giant assist from this peanut stand) was Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson.  Having shown massive power/speed ability the season prior at Triple-A where he hit 33 home runs and stole 30 bases, Pederson was guaranteed a starting outfielder spot to begin 2015 which sent the hype machine soaring.  Projecting as the next great power/speed five tool fantasy baseball outfielders, Pederson found himself fought over with big-time vigor in drafts.

Once the 2015 season got underway, it certainly appeared all the acclaim for Pederson was spot on as he hit .298 in April with 4 home runs.  While the average tailed off in May and June, Pederson showed off immense power as he hit a total of 20 long balls the first three months of the season with a .230 average.  As a result, Pederson was selected as an All-Star as a rookie and also was include in the Home Run contest where he opened up a bunch of eyes by hitting a slew of tape-measure bombs.  Again the average was low due to a high K rate which is somewhat understandable as a rookie and also Pederson struggled on the bases in swiping just 2 bags in 7 attempts as he seemed to have trouble getting his timing down.  Overall though Pederson was showing he was worth whatever price his owners paid for him in March.

Of course the Major League season is six months long and not three and what happened from the All Star Game onward was beyond ugly.  Almost like a switch was turned off, Pederson couldn't hit air during the second half of the season as he hit a pathetic .178 with just 6 home runs in 180 at-bats.  The high K rate during the first half of the season got even worse as Pederson struck out a ridiculous 63 times in those 180 at-bats.  The power also dried up as Pederson was completely out of whack with his swing and that got him demoted from the precious leadoff spot and inserted as low as seventh which is major trouble for a hitter in the NL.  In addition, Pederson continued to shockingly be a non-factor on the bases as he swiped only 2 more bags in the second half.  The result was the following composite numbers:

.210
25 HR
54 RBI
67 R
4 SB

While the 25 home runs were excellent (especially for a rookie), everything else was hideous for Pederson.  The .210 average would have made only Adam Dunn proud and the much-ballyhooed steals never materialized as Pederson took just 4 bags after swiping 30 in Triple-A the season before.  By the end of the season, Pederson was not even worth using in most lineups given how poorly he was hitting.  So now as we look ahead to 2016, let's see what could be in store.

So right off the bat we have to assume that someone as naturally gifted as Pederson will start figuring some things out his second time around in the majors.  Clearly the grind of a long MLB season took a toll as Pederson was simply awful from July onward.  Figure he will have a better idea how to pace his body for the long season which should help his numbers.  Again the biggest positive for Pederson is his natural power and 25 home runs as a rookie was phenomenal.  Figure on Pederson challenging 30 home runs as a sophomore this season with a sizable uptick in RBI as well.  With Pederson showing leadoff may not be a good fit, he could land in the 3 of 5 spot in the order which should boost the RBI over the 65 mark.  Also Pederson's OBP was still solid despite the low average last season, coming in at .346 which will help the runs total.  Count on 70-plus being a good place to start.

Now for the average and steals.  The .210 average has to improve and by a solid margin for Pederson's power to play as positively as it can for you.  A low average hurts you badly in ROTO formats which lessens the impact of the power.  Overall Pederson's K rate was an unsightly 29.1 percent which is a problem no doubt.  Even in his big Triple-A campaign in 2014, Pederson's K rate was a very high 26.9 percent so the average will never be glowing.  We are hoping for .250 but this could be a Chris Young Arizona Diamondbacks situation where a .240 average goes with the power. 

Finally as far as the steals are concerned, it can be argued that his negative there was even more disappointing than the low average.  Pederson never found a groove when it came to that area, stealing just 4 bases in 11 attempts which is unacceptable.  Twice however Pederson stole 30 or more bases in the minors though so figure he starts to get going there a bit in 2016.  A case in point was the similarly skilled George Springer who was a big minors league steals guy but then who did almost nothing in that area as a rookie in 2014 with the Houston Astros.  Springer began to swipe bases in 2015 however as he started to figure things out there and Pederson could make such a jump in 2016.  Still until we see it, expecting 10 steals is about the most we can endorse until he shows otherwise. 

When combined together, Joc Pederson is a very flawed player at this point in fantasy baseball and that means you should watch how much you are willing to pay here.  While we were huge fans coming into last season, we have cooled on the kid given how badly he played at times in 2015.  Sure the talent is still there and a major breakout could take place soon but Pederson has a lot of rough edges to his game at this stage. 

2016 PROJECTION:  .230 28 HR 67 RBI 74 R 10 SB 

 

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