After an impressive year at Double-A in 2013 and a 30/30 campaign at Triple-A in 2014, the bar was set high for Joc Pederson’s first full season with the Dodgers in 2015. Obviously, there were a lot of disappointed owners, but there were enough positive signs to give fantasy owners hope. Things did not go much better in 2016. We did see some positive steps in his underlying metrics, setting Pederson up as a post-hype sleeper entering the 2017 season.
Here we are in May, and Pederson is fresh off the DL. His ownership was on the decline prior to the injury, and it continues to slowly dwindle (67% CBS, 54% Yahoo, 43% ESPN). Are owners giving up too early, or are the ones getting out now smart for doing so while there are still viable options available on waivers?
The Pederson proponents may point to his power as a source of optimism.
I will concede that Pederson has power, but that power seems to be lacking right now. A five-point drop in hard-hit rate this year puts him in average territory. The .120 ISO is what you would expect from your all speed shortstop/second baseman with minimal pop. If you take away the power, what else does Pederson offer?
It certainly isn’t speed. From 2012 to 2014 he stole 87 bases across three levels in the minors. In 2015 during his first full season, he was 4 for 11 in attempts, and 2016 wasn’t much better with just six steals in eight attempts. Maybe Pederson still has some speed – it’s not like he is old and lost a step, but it seems that management doesn’t think much of his prowess on the base paths and put the kibosh on that part of his game.
OK, so maybe this is just a slow start and he can hit his way out of this power funk.
Pederson made some positive steps in 2016, but early results have him reverting to his 2015 form. Using 2016 season totals his current O-Contact would rank in the bottom five just above the likes of Chris Carter, Alex Gordon and Michael Saunders. The Z-Contact would be the 7th lowest ahead of Carter, Melvin Upton, Khris and Chris Davis, Corey Dickerson and Justin Upton. Finally, the overall contact is just ahead of Carter, Upton and both Davis’.
His F-Strike% would rank among the elite, unfortunately, the swinging strikeout rate, like everything else, ranks near the bottom of the barrel. All that bad contact doesn’t bode well for a batting average revival – things don’t even look positive that he will reach last year’s .246. The patience shown on that first pitch is great for walks, but as you’ll see below that too is starting to feel the effects of the rest of his declining game.
There was a steady increase in walks which reached its peak in 2014. Since then there has been a steady decline. A 12% walk rate is still great, but the downward trend is concerning. As the walks decrease, the strikeout rate has been gradually going up. One of those positive steps Pederson took last year was in strikeouts, but he appears to have given those gains back this year.
Increased strikeouts, declining walks, poor contact, no speed, and now a power outage. If that wasn’t enough, Pederson has been hitting towards the bottom half of the order since last season. Last year 61 of his at bats were between the 1st and 5th spot in the order. He had 140 batting 6th, and 205 batting 7th through 9th. It is the same story this year with 39 of his 51 at bats coming from the six-hole or lower. You will not drive in or score many runs hitting that low.
In many ways, Pederson reminds me of Randal Grichuk. Both teased us in 2016, saw their power decline this year, have bad contact, increasing strikeouts. and a stolen base total that disappeared upon arrival to the majors. In fact, their 2016 fantasy season numbers are a mirror image of each other.
If there were a doppelgänger in the major league for Pederson it would be Grichuk. How do you feel about your upside power hitting outfielder now? Pederson was selected on average in round 16 on Yahoo – Grichuk round 20.
Based on their ADP Grichuk falls into that dart throw category. Pederson, with similar numbers and upside, should have been selected much later, making him a dart throw as well. We have enough of a sample size and track record with Pederson to draw a safe conclusion, and that is he is a marginal bench bat which you can replace.
As of today, I own zero stock in Pederson as I put my money where my mouth is. I would rather gamble on Aaron Altherr (recommended yesterday) or play the hot hand off waivers than stumble along with Pederson for another week/month/season.
He may have a hot month where you regret not owning him, but the other 15-16 weeks you’ll have the peace of mind knowing that someone else is dealing with your former headache. Just rip the band-aid off – it will only hurt for a second, and I promise you’ll feel much better afterwards.
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