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2015 Dodgers review: Joc Pederson

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Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Joc Pederson had an effective rookie season with the Dodgers, but his path to getting there was anything but ordinary, in many ways splitting his 2015 into two different seasons.

What went right

The Dodgers traded away one of their most popular players ever in Matt Kemp in part to open up a spot in center field for Pederson, and the rookie proved worthy of the task. Pederson on the whole had a productive season on offense alone, even if he got there unconventionally.

Factor in Pederson's defense in center field, which ranged from above average in Total Zone Rating (+7 runs) to below average in both Defensive Runs Saved (-3) and Ultimate Zone Rating (-3.9), which was relatively much better than what the Dodgers had in recent years, and Pederson's rookie season in total was a successful one.

He also made this game-saving catch, on June 14 in San Diego to rob Justin Upton:

Pederson got off to a hot start, and after play on June 3 was hitting .267/.393/.606 with 17 home runs in 53 games. June 3 was the date of Pederson's fifth straight game with a home run, trying a Dodgers franchise record.

He was just the third National League rookie ever with 20 home runs before July 1, per STATS LLC, trailing only Wally Berger of the 1930 Braves (22 home runs before July 1) and Albert Pujols of the 2001 Cardinals (21).

Pederson's strong opening to the season earned him an All-Star berth, and with a pair of injuries in the outfield, Pederson got to start the midsummer classic in Cincinnati. Pederson was just the sixth Dodgers rookie to be named an All-Star, and was the first Dodgers rookie position player to start.

But Pederson left his biggest mark in Cincinnati during the Home Run Derby, during which he got all the way to the final round, hitting 39 home runs in total, but falling just short of hometown hero Todd Frazier of the Reds.

Pederson's 26 home runs were the second-most hit by a Dodgers rookie, trailing only Mike Piazza's 35 home runs in 1993.

Pederson ranked fifth in the National League with 92 walks, the third-highest total by a Dodgers rookie, behind only Jim Gilliam (100 in 1953) and Billy Grabarkewtiz (95 in 1970).

He was the 16th Dodger with 25 home runs and 90 walks in the same season, and the first since Shawn Green in 2002.

What went wrong

After those five straight games with a home run ending on June 3, Pederson hit just .177/.319/.303 with nine home runs and 22 RBI in his final 98 games of the season.

Pederson tied a team record with 170 strikeouts, matching Kemp's 2010.

Pederson's worst month was July, when he hit .169/.229/.258. It was also the one month in 2015 during which his walk rate plummeted, with just four walks against 31 strikeouts in 96 plate appearances.

He followed that up with a 6-for-50 (.120) August, during which he also walked 21 times for a .384 on-base percentage. But that month also saw Pederson lose his everyday starting job, though it was only temporary because his replacement Kike Hernandez strained a hamstring a week into his expanded duties.

"I just think mechanically he slowly over time got into bad habits," Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said of Pederson in November. "Nobody wanted to correct that as badly as he did, but it's just a really difficult thing to do in season."

Pederson started in the leadoff position 69 times in 2015, and his production batting first in the batting order was a nice enough .216/.325/.437 (National League OBP batting first was .330 in 2015), but when actually leading off an inning Pederson hit just .155/.286/.331, and when leading off a game he hit just .159/.232/.333.

He started just two of the five games in the National League Division Series against the Mets, and went 0-for-4 with a strikeout and four walks during the series.

2015 particulars

Age: 23

Stats: .210/.346/.417, .33 wOBA, 112 OPS+, 115 wRC+, 26 HR, 92 BB, 170 K, 2.3 rWAR, 2.8 fWAR

Salary: $510,000

Game of the year

Pederson was 2-for-4 against the Padres on May 22 and hit the game-winning home run in the eighth inning in a 2-1 Dodgers win.

Roster status

Pederson has one year, 28 days of major league service time and three option years remaining. He is under team control for 2016 and will make somewhere near the league minimum next year.