The Los Angeles Dodgers have one of the highest payrolls in baseball. Players such as Jimmy Rollins, Zach Grienke, Clayton Kershaw, Adrian Goznalez, Yasmani Grandal, and Yasiel Puig headline one of the most talent-rich lineups in all the major leagues.
However, the Dodgers biggest producer might be one of its youngest players, Joc Pedersen.
The 23-year-old has been one of Los Angeles’s most consistent performers, taking the league by storm with his blend of offensive power and highlight reel defense. Pederson’s emergence has been a nice surprise for a ball club that moved All-Star outfielder, Matt Kemp, over the offseason.
Although, even with the departure of Kemp, the Dodgers still had a loaded outfield with Andre Eithier, Carl Crawford, Puig, and Pederson all fighting for playing time. Pederson didn’t waste time in proving he belonged, hitting 13 home runs during the first two months of play. As a result, Dodgers manager, Don Mattingly, has made Pederson an everyday outfielder for the team.
Pederson is putting together quite an impressive first season. Through 84 games he has hit the deep ball at a torrid pace, leading the Dodgers with 20 home runs. This display of power is nothing new, as Pederson hit 33 home runs during the 2014 season with the Dodgers AAA affiliate. The only real downfall to Pederson has been an unimpressive .230 batting average.
Regardless of his poor average at the plate, home runs are the sexiest statistic in all of baseball, and Pederson can hit the long ball better than any rookie in the National League. Well, almost any N.L. rookie, as Chicago Cubs third baseman, Kris Bryant, is putting on an impressive display of hitting himself.
Bryant is the only player standing in the way of Pederson’s National League Rookie of the Year. Bryant hasn’t matched Pederson’s home run totals, but he has still managed to produce 12 through his first 74 games. The Cubs rookie is a slightly more disciplined hitter, posting a much more respectable .275 average, and outperforms Pederson in just about every other hitting category.
You can’t really pick a frontrunner for National League Rookie of the Year.
There is still half a season left for each contender to make their case, but 20 home runs at the half way point of the season is such an impressive accomplishment, especially for someone playing in their first full Major League season.
The Dodgers have struck gold with Pederson, and whether he beats Bryant or not for Rookie of the Year is irrelevant. He is going to be one of the feature attractions in Los Angeles for years to come.