No one is drafting Joc Pederson. I got an email from the barber that used to trim Fidel Castro’s beard before emigrating from Cuba and he said, “No tengo Joc Pederson en fantasy beisbol.” Granted, he also asked for me to wire him $1000000000 to help pay for a dead aunt I hadn’t heard of previously, so the legitimacy of the email could be debated, but Pederson as non-entity is legit. This is likely due to his known quality, as in ‘it is known he is not quality.’ If I had to guess why, I’d say it’s because people assume what they’re going to get from him — low average, some pop, prolly platoon. Okay, that’s enough to be unenthused, I can understand that. I think that’s selling him short like Christian Bale moving tranches as he waits for a bubble to burst. Just to be clear, you’ve moved your enthusiasm away from a 24-year-old who had 25 HRs and 6 SBs last year and has hit that many homers for two straight seasons and has 30+ steals in two separate minor league seasons. Yeah, no hitter has ever been better in his third full major league season. That was sarcasm. Lots of data has shown the third-year breakout season doesn’t exist, but there was some data there to begin with to even investigate it. In other words, that third-year breakout theory isn’t a bastard child because there’s data there. So, what can we expect from Joc Pederson for 2017 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?
Last year, Pederson cut his strikeouts from 29.1% to 27.3%. It’s something. Sure, he didn’t go from Chris Davis to Pie Traynor. By the by, Pie had a sister, Hairpie. Weird family. So, Pederson got better, even if smally (hey, if bigly can be a word, smally can too). To say he got a little better isn’t the whole picture. He went from 1.3 Fastball runs Above Average to 14.5. Um, come home to papa! That’s about the same as Carlos Gonzalez, Correa and Kemp. His Hard Contact rate was 38.7%, which is 28th in the majors with Votto, V-Mart and Kyle Seager around him. Then his ability to drive the ball up the middle was 30th in the majors around Nelson Cruz and Starling Marte. (Some good names in all of these lists, huh? Yeah, well, I’m cherrypicking so much I should be working on a cherry orchard.) He hits a decent amount of fly balls and not many ground balls. His line drives are a bit the dog’s breakfast, but he feels like he’s due for a much better BABIP than his career .277 mark. If he can get his strikeout percentage down to 22%, he could hit .270+, and that’s his one drawback, right? I mean, the power is there. A 24-year-old going into his third season after hitting 25 homers and 26 homers in his first two seasons is begging for a 35+ homer season. 35 HRs and .245 isn’t that exciting, but there’s speed here too. Maybe it’s not 30+ steal speed as it was in the minors, but if the brakes come off, he easily takes 15 bases. His one big Pitfall Harry that I can’t get around, he can’t hit lefties. Big whoop! You grab a bat off waivers on the days Pederson’s sitting vs. a tough lefty. Guys and five girl readers, I’m so jazzed I could be A Tribe Called Quest beat. For 2017, I’m going to give Joc Pederson the projections of 72/31/79/.252/10 in 440 ABs which is an easy number three outfielder for the price of a fifth.