Dodgers 2016 Player Review: Joc Pederson
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Dodgers handed the keys in center field to a rookie in 2015 as Joc Pederson earned the starting role and generally speaking did not disappoint.

He slugged 20 home runs in the first half, earning a spot on the National League All-Star roster, as well as in the Home Run Derby in which he placed second. However, Pederson struggled in the second half and quickly fell from the contention for the Rookie of the Year Award.

Pederson spent the offseason refining his swing and entered this season looking to become a more complete hitter. In particular, there was a goal to cut down on his 170 strikeouts from 2015.

Pederson’s consistency was much improved, which dispelled any concern that may been surfacing of whether or not he was capable of playing center field on an everyday basis.

In 137 games Pederson batted .246/.352/.495 with 25 home runs and 68 RBIs while striking out 130 times. He thrived against righties, posting a .918 on-base plus slugging percentage, but in limited action against left-handers had just a .469 OPS.

Often times during the regular season he wasn’t in the lineup against southpaws, but in the postseason Dodgers manager Dave Roberts valued Pederson’s defense so much that he started all 11 games.

In those 11 games he went 9-for-40 (.225 batting average) with a home run and four RBIs while walking three times. Roberts said after the Dodgers were eliminated that he was encouraged by Pederson’s at-bats would likely give him more opportunities against left-handers next season.

2016 Highlight

In the winner-take-all Game 5 of the National League Division Series against the Washington Nationals, the Dodgers struggled to muster any offense against Nationals starter Max Scherzer.

With the Dodgers trailing, 1-0, Pederson led off the seventh inning and lifted the first pitch he saw from Scherzer, a 96 mph fastball, to left field. The ball carried over the wall to tie the game, and forced Nationals manager Dusty Baker to remove Scherzer from the game.

Los Angeles scored three more runs in the inning off Washington’s bullpen, and went on to win the game, 4-3, to advance to the NL Championship Series.

2017 Outlook

Going into his third MLB season the 24-year-old Pederson will look to continue improving. Barring any injuries, he will go into 2017 as the team’s unquestioned starting center fielder.

Pederson will need to improve against left-handers though if he wants to avoid being a victim of the Dodgers’ reliance on platoons. Los Angeles figures to have multiple options if Pederson struggles against same-side pitching.