Dodgers News: Joc Pederson Draws Split Results Between MLB Network’s The Shredder, Analysts In Debate Over Top-10 Center Fielders For 2017
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Joc Pederson of the Los Angeles Dodgers was somewhat of a polarizing name during MLB Network’s recent unveiling of the top-10 center fielders for the 2017 season, as determined by The Shredder.

Pederson was left off algorithm-based ranking, which takes into account offensive and defensive performance, but was viewed as a top-10 player at his position in the eyes of multiple analysts. “Where’s Joc Pederson for everybody else? I feel like I’m out on an island,” said Brian Kenny, who ranked Pederson the third-best center fielder.

“He slugged .495, plays at Dodger Stadium, and is going to be 25 years old. He’s plus defensively, and I think this guy is going to be a star.” Mike Petriello ranked Pederson fourth on his list of the top center fielders heading into this season.

“I really like Joc Pederson,” Petriello said. “He had the neat trick of cutting his strikeout rate while increasing his power.”

However, former center fielder Preston Wilson wasn’t nearly as bullish on Pederson at this stage in his career. “I think he’s got a chance, but the one thing I’d like to see Joc Pederson do is limit mistakes and not make the same mistakes over and over again,” Wilson explained.

“When you play center field you have to make sure that you know the hitters, their tendencies, and get your positioning. I think that’s something Joc Pederson is going to have to get better at. It was tough to leave him off.”

After skidding through much of the second half of the 2015 season, Pederson reported to Spring Training last year with a new swing and refined approach at the plate that focused on being a complete hitter.

Pederson reduced his strikeout rate from 29.1 percent in 2015 to 27.3 percent last season. That was coupled with increases in on-base percentage (.346 to .352), slugging percentage (.417 to .495), OPS+ (113 to 129), wOBA (.335 to .360) and wRC+ (116 to 129).

Pederson’s 25 home runs last season were one less than his total from an All-Star campaign in 2015, but his 26 doubles were seven more than the year prior. Pederson’s improved production at the plate is likely to lend to more opportunities against left-handed pitching this season.

Defensively, the 24-year-old improved from a -3.9 UZR in 2015 to 1.5 last season, and from -3 Defensive Runs Saved to 1. Among qualified center fielders last season, he ranked seventh in UZR and ninth in DRS.

Pederson was recently named an honorable mention by ESPN’s Buster Olney in his ranking of the top-10 center fielders.

RankThe ShredderBrian KennyPreston Wilson
1Mike Trout (Angels)Mike Trout (Angels)Mike Trout (Angels)
2Christian Yelich (Marlins)Jackie Bradley Jr. (Red Sox)Christian Yelich (Marlins)
3George Springer (Astros)Joc Pederson (Dodgers)George Springer (Astros)
4Jackie Bradley Jr. (Red Sox)George Springer (Astros)Lorenzo Cain (Royals)
5A.J. Pollock (Diamondbacks)Christian Yelich (Marlins)Jackie Bradley Jr. (Red Sox)
6Adam Eaton (Nationals)Adam Eaton (Nationals)Charlie Blackmon (Rockies)
7Lorenzo Cain (Royals)Charlie Blackmon (Rockies)Adam Eaton (Nationals)
8Charlie Blackmon (Rockies)Dexter Fowler (Cardinals)Dexter Fowler (Cardinals)
9Kevin Kiermaier (Rays)A.J. Pollock (Diamondbacks)Adam Jones (Orioles)
10Dexter Fowler (Cardinals)Odubel Herrera (Phillies)Ender Inciarte (Braves)