Fresh off a memorable performance in the 2019 Home Run Derby, Joc Pederson entered the second half of the 2019 regular season as a bit of a wild card for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The 27-year-old received the bulk of his playing time against right-handed pitching during the first half and especially thrived in the power department, compiling 30 extra-base hits and a .517 slugging percentage over 300 plate appearances.
While Pederson has proven to be a force in the Dodgers lineup against the opposite split, there will continue to be stretches in the second half where he doesn’t play for an extended period of time.
That was evident during the Dodgers’ three-game series against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Pederson did not make a single start due to a left-handed starting pitcher being on the mound in each game.
Somewhat frustrated with the circumstances, Pederson opined that not playing consistently can be more detrimental to one’s swing than participating in the Home Run Derby, via Bill Plunkett of the Southern California News Group:
“It is what it is,” he said of the familiar platoon frustrations. “When somebody asked if the HR Derby affects your swing. I said I think not playing for seven days probably affects your swing more.”
The notion among many fans is that participating in the Home Run Derby will more often than not negatively affect a player’s swing and production in the second half of play.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts previously voiced confidence that Pederson’s production won’t decrease as a result of taking part in the Derby, citing his similar approach at the plate in regular-season games.
Though Pederson did not start in any of the three games against the Red Sox last weekend, he still appeared in Saturday and Sunday’s respective contests as a pinch-hitter. He went 0-for-2 with a walk and RBI in three opportunities.
Pederson was in the lineup for Monday’s series opener against the Philadelphia Phillies, batting leadoff. It likely marked the start of a string of starts as the Phillies are due to throw a right-hander in each of the next three games as well.
While it must be frustrating for Pederson to occasionally sit out in the midst of successful stretches, he has shown a willingness to expand his versatility.
With a crowded outfield now that A.J. Pollock has returned from the injured list, Pederson is receiving more opportunities at first base as a solution to keep Alex Verdugo in the lineup.
Pederson made 11 starts at the position over his final 15 games played before the All-Star break and experienced growing pains, committing three errors in 90 innings. Despite some of the shaky play, the Dodgers are determined to continue affording Pederson opportunities at first base.