by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Joc Pederson has long been a player on fantasy radars, especially after he posted a 30/30 season at Triple-A back in 2014 (after a 20/30 year at Double-A). However he’s never managed to live up to the hype in the Majors, as his stolen base totals have disappeared and he’s struggled to make consistent contact. Just look at the numbers from last season as proof:
406 At Bats
.246 Batting Average (100 Hits)
25 Home Runs
6 Stolen Bases
.353 On Base Percentage
.454 Slugging Percentage
.287 Batting Average on Balls in Play
So why would anyone think that things are going to be any different in 2017? A career .224 hitter in the Majors, Pederson actually showed signs of improvement in 2016 and there’s reason to believe that he’ll finally live up to the hype. Why? Let’s take a look:
While he didn’t show much improvement in his strikeout rate, Pederson actually improved his contact against all types of pitches:
He continued to show the ability to take a walk (13.2%) and had shown an even bigger improvement early in the season (25.2% strikeout rate in the first half). With the steps that he took in making contact, given two MLB seasons of experience, there’s a chance he can maintain that first half mark throughout the year. That’s not necessarily a glamourous number, but with his power/speed it would be more than enough.
As it is, he’s proven capable of hitting the ball hard routinely. His 38.7% Hard% from ’16 would’ve tied him for 21st in the league, along with Joey Votto and Kyle Seager. Given that number, with his speed, it’s easy to also imagine better than a .296 BABIP. He already showed an improved popup rate (15.2% to 11.1%), and like with the strikeouts he was even better in the first half (9.1%).
Is he going to be a .300 hitter? Absolutely not, but would .260 be a shock? Could he, if things go right, rise all the way into the .270-.280 range?
The power is already established and with a higher average he should be able to swipe 10+ bases (and maybe even more than that). In other words, while others could downplay him based on his poor averages over his first two seasons this could easily be the year he rises up and emerges. They call them post-hype sleepers for a reason, and Pederson could prove to be a prime example of one in 2017.
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball
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Make sure to check out our other Early 2017 Rankings: