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Unsubstantiated Prediction regarding Joc Pederson of the Los Angeles Dodgers

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Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

From the Minor League Ball mailbag:

How about giving me an 'unsubstantiated prediction' for Joc Pederson? I picked him up for my fantasy team three years ago, held on with him on my farm roster, and am happy with the power this year. But I was hoping for batting average and speed too and he's not producing in those areas. Will he eventually?---LHP in Chicago.

I'm glad you asked for an "unsubstantiated prediction" because it lowers your expectations and cuts down on my research load, LHP, but we can certainly take a look here and make an educated guess.

The basics first. Pederson is hitting .224/.355/.451 through 107 games with the Los Angeles Dodgers, with 18 doubles, 21 homers, 67 walks, and 130 strikeouts in 366 at-bats. Despite the low batting average, his combination of power and patience results in a strong wRC+ of 128 and a fine overall fWAR of 2.7.

This is not far off from what we should expect based on his minor league track record. His strikeout rate trended upward through his minor league career, although his walk rates and isolated power marks increased at the same time. His batting averages in the high minors (.278 in the Double-A Southern League, .303 in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League) were only middling quality per the league contexts. His MLEs showed him hitting somewhere in the .230-.240 range, so the .224 isn't out of the bounds of reasonable expectation at all. He projected as a guy with a low batting average but substantial power and a solid OBP and that's exactly what he is.

The only thing that looks weird really is the lack of stolen bases. He swiped 30 in 43 attempts last year, 31 in 39 attempts the year before, 26 in 40 attempts the year before that. He's just 2-for-8 this year so if you were hoping for 20 steals (or even 10) you're no doubt disappointed.

However, you have to consider the team context. Pederson's running speed has always been rated just slightly above average. He was given the green light frequently in the minors but his success ratio was just barely acceptable overall. The Dodgers under Don Mattingly simply don't run often: they've only made 48 stolen base attempts all season (succeeding just half the time). Given Mattingly's managerial strategies, Pederson's lack of steals is completely understandable, if annoying for fantasy managers who were expecting more.

As for the unsubstantiated prediction, my guess is that Pederson will eventually stabilize as a .260ish hitter overall, though with a fairly wide band of potential outcomes in any given year: some years (like 2015) he'll hit in the .230 area; in other years he could hit as high as .290, say in his age 27-28 window. His best year will be 2020 when he hits .307/.420/.570.

Although the batting average will oscillate, OBP and SLG production will be consistently good and you could eventually get a few steals out of him if he moves to a different team or if the Dodgers change their baserunning philosophy.

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