It is no secret that Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson has struggled at the plate in recent weeks, as since July 28 he is just 1-for-35 with four walks and eight strikeouts. His lone hit was key, however, as it was a game-tying double against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
While Pederson has worked to cut down his strikeout numbers since his rookie year, as he is striking out in just 21.5 percent of his plate appearances this season, the lowest rate of his career, it is balls in play that haven’t gone his way recently.
Pederson grounded out to second base twice (once into a shift) and hit a foul ball popup that Jose Pirela reached over the wall to make a catch on in the Dodgers’ win Sunday against the San Diego Padres.
There have been hard-hit balls throughout August that have amounted to nothing more than loud outs. Beyond that, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts explained he believes Pederson’s slump is mechanical, according to J.P. Hoornstra of the Southern California News Group:
“I think for Joc there’s a mechanical issue,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “There’s an approach issue. He understands this: getting back to the big part of the field, he’s going to have more success. When he’s coming out of his swing, getting more rotational and hitting the ball to the second baseman, that’s not where he wants to be.”
Overall on the season Pederson’s slash line is down to .216/.330/.420, with 11 home runs and 31 RBIs in 85 games. He batted .246/.352/.495 with 26 doubles, 25 home runs, 68 RBI and a 126 OPS+ in what was considered a bounce-back year in 2016.
Whether it were to happen with Triple-A Oklahoma City or with the Dodgers, a solution may be more work with OKC hitting coach Shawn Wooten. Pederson benefitted from time spent with Wooten while on his rehab assignment and it continued as Wooten briefly joined the Major League staff.
Pederson’s current slump, coupled with Adrian Gonzalez’s forthcoming return from the disabled list, may lead to the young center fielder finding himself on the bench. Gonzalez is expected to primarily start against right-handed pitching, which would push Cody Bellinger to left field.
Considering how well Chris Taylor has swung the bat, the Dodgers presumably would keep him in the lineup. Taylor could spell Logan Forsythe or Justin Turner at second and third base, respectively, but he’s also capable of playing center field.
A similar scenario unfolded for Pederson in 2015, when he was supplanted in center field by Kiké Hernandez down the stretch of the season.