It’s been an up-and-down ride for Joc Pederson during his four-year career with the Dodgers. 2018 was definitely an up, as Pederson had his most complete season as a big-leaguer.
What went right
When Joc was called up, he was expected to be a middle-of-the-lineup type of bat. With such a powerful swing, nobody anticipated he would establish himself in the leadoff spot. Boy, did he ever.
In 2018, Pederson set the Dodgers single-season record with eight leadoff home runs. When he led off a game, his slash line was .309/.356/.818/1.174, among some of the best in all of baseball.
For the 26-year-old, it was the third time in four seasons he’s finished with at least 25 home runs. Nearly half (10) of his 25 home runs came during the month of June.
As summer was getting underway, Pederson’s bat was heating up. During a 17-game stretch, Pederson was arguably one of the hottest hitters in baseball. In just 54 at-bats, Pederson slugged 10 homers. During his hot-stretch, he hit .315 with a whopping OPS of 1.356.
More impressively, Joc’s eye at the plate was the best it had ever been. Over the 17 games, he had a near-identical strikeout percentage (13.1%) than he did walk percentage (11.5%).
What went wrong
Though it was one of the better seasons of Joc’s career, he was still practically unplayable when LA faced left-handed pitching. Pederson only had 53 at-bats on the year versus southpaws, and he just couldn’t figure things out. He had only nine hits (.170 AVG), and only hit one home run.
Even with 25 homers on the season, Pederson only had 56 runs driven in. Joc was one of 48 players in 2018 that had at least 25 long balls, his 56 RBI were the least amount amongst those players.
Opportunities were there for Pederson to drive in runs, he just couldn’t capitalize. With runners in scoring position, he hit just .217. With two outs, just .133.
Through the first six games of the postseason, Pederson had the hottest bat in the Dodgers lineup. Over the course of the final 10 games, it was the coldest. From game 3 of the NLCS until game 5 of the World Series, Pederson was 2-for-22 (.091 AVG). He nearly struck out in half of his at-bats, striking out nine times.
Given the bases occupied/out situation, Pederson was the result of -3.1 runs. Pretty much meaning, he cost the Dodgers vitally during the most crucial part of the season.
Stats: .248/.321/.522/.843, 25 HR, 56 RBI, 98 H, 65 R, 125 OPS+, 2.3 WAR
Game of the year
The scorching-hot month of June began on June 2 in Colorado for Pederson. He was 4-for-5, with two home runs and a double. He scored four runs as well, the most he had in 2018.
Pederson has four years and 28 days of service time. He is arbitration eligible until 2021, when he’s set to become an unrestricted free-agent.