Beginning on Opening Day of the 2015 season, the Los Angeles Dodgers were reliant on at least one young player. That initially was Joc Pederson, though it grew to include the likes of Kiké Hernandez and eventually Corey Seager.
On top of playing a strong defensive center field, Pederson enjoyed plenty of success at the plate. He began the year as the Dodgers’ No. 8 hitter, though moved to the top of the order as Jimmy Rollins slumped.
Pederson hit .230/.364/.487 with 20 home runs, 40 RBIs and 58 walks during the first half of the 2015 season. He earned a spot in the Home Run Derby and started the All-Star Game in left field.
However, the rookie’s success at the plate began to wane near the midway point of the season, and the struggles carried over to the second half.
Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi viewed the peaks and valleys as what’s to be expected from a young player, via an interview with Chris Russo on MLB Network’s High Heat:
“At some level that’s just the trials and tribulations of a young player. He came in and set the world on fire in the first half, went to the Home Run Derby and put on a show there. Then the league caught up to him, started throwing him more breaking balls and changed their approach to pitch him more inside. For any young player, these guys shoot through the Minor Leagues and barely have to deal with any adversity, and certainly don’t have to deal with the level of sophistication of advanced reports and that kind of thing at the Major League level.”
Zaidi called on Pederson to make the requisite adjustments at the plate, and believes the Dodgers’ coaching staff will significantly aid that process:
“There’s an adjustment period for every young player, no matter how talented. Joc is no different and he made some of those adjustments late in the season, which we’re encouraged about. We have a new hitting coach in Turner Ward and new assistant hitting coach in Tim Hyers, who we think are going to help Joc a lot. Just like any young player, it’s on him now to make adjustments and get back to the level he was at in the first half [of 2015].”
Pederson hit .178/.317/.300 with just six home runs and 14 RBIs after the All-Star break. He drew 34 walks in 219 plate appearances over 62 games (54 starts). Pederson was eventually supplanted as the club’s starting center fielder by Hernandez.
Dodgers President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman stated that he is expressed confidence in Pederson’s ability to hit left-handed pitchers. He enjoyed mild success against lefties last season, batting .216/.295/.397 with six home runs, 14 RBIs, 48 strikeouts and 13 walks in 129 plate appearances.