In case you hadn’t noticed, Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Cody Bellinger is going absolutely nuts this year. The lefty leads the league in average, slugging, wRC+, and fWAR, and he’s a major reason for the Dodgers’ .667 win percentage. However, one player cannot do it alone in baseball, and fellow outfielder Joc Pederson has been a fantastic Robin to Bellinger’s Batman. The slugging leadoff hitter is among the best in baseball and deserves more appreciation for his career year.
Joc Pederson Having a Quietly Effective Season
With Bellinger breaking records left and right, it’s easy to overlook the fact that Joc Pederson made history last night. Pederson launched his 16th home run from the leadoff spot in Thursday’s 2-0 win over the New York Mets. In doing so, he became the first player in National League history to hit 16 leadoff home runs before the month of June.
— Stats By STATS (@StatsBySTATS) May 30, 2019
It’s not just his penchant for power which makes him such a valuable part of the team. The lefty has developed into one of the best all-around players in baseball, and his efficiency at the plate and in the field is evident everywhere you look. As of this posting, Pederson owns a .268/.372/.647 slash line with a 165 wRC+ and a .416 wOBA. His wRC+ and wOBA are both good for the eighth-best marks in the league. Pederson isn’t just one of the Dodgers’ best hitters, he’s one of the best hitters in all of baseball.
WAR isn’t the be-all, end-all statistic, but it’s hard to ignore just how good Pederson’s been relative to the rest of the league. Despite not bringing anything special as a fielder or baserunner, Pederson is already worth 2.0 wins, according to Fangraphs. This fWAR ties him for 20th-best in the league, and he’s easily on pace to shatter his career marks.
Entering the season, Pederson recorded a career-high 3.5 fWAR in 2016 while playing in 148 games. His 128 wRC+ made him an above-average hitter and he actually graded out well as a fielder. He’s on pace to shatter both marks this season, and his .240 BABIP suggests that he could actually improve his numbers as the season goes on.
How Pederson Affects the Dodgers
The Dodgers have the best record in the National League, but this isn’t a new sensation by any means. Los Angeles has been the best team in the NL for quite some time, making it to each of the last two World Series. However, they’ve fallen short both times to the Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros.
However, this Dodgers team could be the one to finally take home a title. Bellinger is playing at a ridiculous level, but the rest of the team is providing the support needed to be one of the most intimidating rosters in the league. With Joe Pederson performing like a top-10 hitter complemented by solid play from Justin Turner and Alex Verdugo, this team has never looked better. It’s obviously early, but perhaps this is the Dodgers team destined to break LA’s championship drought.
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