Honestly, in June of last year, if you would’ve asked me if I’d be writing this post come January, I would’ve said you were as crazy as the Republican field for president, but then July through the end of the year happened and Joc Pederson not only looked lost, but he lost his starting job. Yes, Cro-Magnonly was their manager and you need to take all of his moves with a grain of salt, but anyone could see Pederson was struggling. Here, I’ll test you to see if you could tell. Pederson had a high for a month in power with 9 homers in May and followed that with seven homers in June. He cruised into the All-Star break with 20 homers and a .230 average. Post-All-Star break saw him hit only six homers and a .178 average. That’s-a, how do stereotypical Italians say, notta so good. Actually, “notta so good” calls up its attorney about pressing defamation charges for being used to describe Pederson’s 2nd half. The proverbially wheels came off the cart Luke was pushing to buy some frankinstinks. Is that a proverb? I don’t know, but it sounds like it. Anyway, what can we expect from Joc Pederson for 2016 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?
To tackle the 2nd part first, I think he’s going to be a sleeper because I doubt he has a locked in job in spring training, which will scare a lot of people off. That’s not to say he won’t have a full-time job for the majority of the season, just that he’ll need to win the job and that could last into April. Thankfully, that’s gonna cause his stock to plummet. This is for a 23-year-old with a 30/30 season in the minors under his belt. 30/30 seasons are rare at any level nowadays. His 30/30 season in Triple-A was the first time it had happened in the PCL in 80 years. That’s almost as old as those sweatpants you bought from Goodwill! In Double-A, he had 22 homers and 31 steals. In High-A, 18 homers and 26 steals. I mean, these are prodigious numbers and I have no idea what prodigious means but goddamn if it doesn’t sound good. Last year, he only stole 4 bases in the majors. Partly, he was only on base to run around them for a home run, but he’s 23 years old! If he can drop his strikeout percentage from 29.1% to only 22%, he’s gonna hit .275 and steal 25 bases. Can he do that? This is where it gets murky. He swung at only 27% of pitches outside of the strike zone. That’s not bad. Yet, he only swung at 65% of pitches inside of the strike zone. What does that tell me? He’s not swinging at anything. I.e., he has no idea what’s a strike or a ball. To back this up, he only swung a total of 43% of the time. That’s the 27th fewest in the majors. Mostly, that top 27 are guys that, when they swing, they get results. Pederson, however, swings and misses 14% of the time. To give you an idea, Ben Revere only swings 42% of the time, but he only misses 4%. Charlie Blackmon swings 43% of the time, he misses merely 6%. This isn’t good for Pederson. Let’s get back to what is good. For home runs, his True Distance the ball carried, Pederson was the best in the majors at 421.7 feet. 2nd best was Giancarlo with 417.6. Most sluggers are in the 405 feet range. Pederson didn’t just hit balls further, he did it by a far margin. He has room to spare with his power, he’s got great speed, if he can pick his spots better, and he might hit .220, or if due to his age, he takes a step forward with his batting eye, he hits .270. That’s the kind of chance I’m willing to take. For 2016, I’ll give him the projections of 67/26/69/.235/12 with huge upside.