One season after setting a Los Angeles Dodgers franchise record with eight leadoff home runs, Joc Pederson appears poised to maintain his position atop the lineup.
That didn’t appear to be a likely scenario when the Dodgers signed A.J. Pollock to a four-year contract during the offseason. Not only did Pollock immediately project to unseat Pederson in center field, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said his new outfielder was a natural candidate to bat leadoff.
It’s where Pollock was penciled in during the early stages of Spring Training. But that then went to Pederson for each contest of the exhibition Freeway Series and his last seven starts of the spring.
“I think for the time being,” Roberts answered when asked if his intention was to keep Pederson batting leadoff come the regular season.
“And I think with a right-handed pitcher, I see A.J. in the five and Joc in the one. That could change, but right now that’s kind of how it is.”
Pollock’s last time in the leadoff spot was March 20 against the Chicago Cubs. He opened the game with a home run and went 2-for-4.
The Dodgers are due to face Zack Greinke on Opening Day and a right-hander in three of four games during the Opening Series with the Arizona Diamondbacks, which should bode well for Pederson.
He’s a lifetime .231/.317/.481 batter with 27 doubles, two triples, 35 home runs and 65 RBI in 137 career starts as the leadoff man. The bulk of his opportunities came in 69 such starts as a rookie in 2014, and 59 starts in the leadoff spot last season.