Dodgers: Joc Pederson Shouldn’t Be Batting Leadoff

With the bullpen continuing to struggle, a weak offense, and lazy playoff preview losses to the Braves and Yankees, thinking ahead to October isn’t particularly fun at the moment for Dodger fans. Still, with the NL West basically wrapped up, it’s important to ruminate not only what the roster will look like next month, but who will be used for each exact role. 

Appropriately, we should start with the matter of who will bat leadoff. With such a surplus of sound veterans and upstart rookies, there are many candidates to consider. It’s a hard decision, but by every measure, one truth is clear: Joc Pederson should not be the leadoff hitter in the 2019 playoffs.

First, Joc has not hit consistently enough in that position this season to really warrant it. His average sits at .234 as of this writing, albeit with his expected mountain of home runs. He’s also about to hit triple digits in strikeouts for the first time since 2016. That’s not what you want out of your catalyst bat. 

Those in favor of giving Joc a big role this October will no doubt point to his explosive performance in the 2017 World Series. In those seven games, he hit .333 and three home runs, with all five of his RBI coming on those homers. He tied a World Series record with five straight games with an extra base hit, and set one with a hit and a run scored in his first six WS games. Furthermore, that sudden barrage came just months after being demoted to the minors. It could be reasoned that, given such history, he could heat up next month in similar fashion. 

I love Joc’s moon shots and childlike celebrations as he danced around the bases to this day. But in hindsight, that performance looks more and more like a classic World Series fluke. There have been many instances where a middling-to-good player suddenly erupted in the Fall Classic. Think Bucky Dent in 1978, Billy Hatcher in 1990, Pat Borders in 1992, Pablo Sandoval in 2012, and so on. 

For proof, just go right to the 2018 World Series. In five games, Pederson mustered an ugly .083, via a solitary hit in 12 trips to the plate. Of course, being Joc, that one hit was a home run in game three. Yet that’s admittedly on brand for him: big power belying cumulatively substandard batting. 

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Furthermore, his brilliance in 2017 could reasonably be attributed to his overall streakiness as a hitter. That streaky tendency remains strong in 2019, and has been on the downturn as of late. While he had some big home runs against the Padres and Yankees, he struck out four times on Friday night in Arizona, more indicative of a particularly rough August. 

Instead, I believe the Dodgers should go with Alex Verdugo. As my colleague Tim Rogers made clear, there’s a strong case for him, as he ranks near the top in executing almost every in-depth offensive statistic. Additionally, Verdugo has had two of the most indelible walk-off hits this season, one a sacrifice fly and the other a historic home run. He’s already proven he’s clutch, and ready for the biggest stage.   

This isn’t to disparage Joc whatsoever, as him losing the leadoff spot (or even not making the playoff roster altogether) is more a reflection of how good upstart rookies like Verdugo, Matt Beaty and (perhaps) Gavin Lux are. I’m not sure just yet that he should be left off the roster entirely, but that will have to be decided later this month. At this rate, it would honestly be the right decision.  

After back-to-back World Series where the Dodgers’ offense was rendered inert, it is imperative that they manufacture runs consistently from the opening of the NLDS to the last salvo of the Fall Classic. That mission starts, quite literally, with the leadoff spot. They can set the tone for better or worse. As it stands right now, Joc Pederson being that crucial bat would be for the worse.


  1. Marshall:

    I agree entirely. Watching Joc whale away at pitches out of the zone and slide back to his previous undisciplined style of AB’s does not encourage optimism that things will turn around. Clearly the offense needs some spark in the lead off spot and Joc unfortunately, isn’t the answer. I agree that either Verdugo or Beaty should be given the opportunity to step into that role. At this point, with the team mired in the doldrums, the question isn’t why, it is why not? Isn’t Roberts the guy who likes to move shake up his lineup? Or is he too in a slump?

  2. As a Dodgers fan for 50 years it’s a shame to see this management sit on their hands with the opportunity to actually win the World series. This overconfident mentality coming from Dave Roberts and the org is exactly why this team is no better than a dreamer mentality.They didn’t correct the Glaring weakness of the bull pen, nor have they found a consistent bat for lead off. They don’t have any cohesion in the line up as Roberts is still experimenting to find this or that. These players aren’t stupid, and I can already see the frustration of sitting hot hitters because of metrics match ups etc. I must give credit to the Org for building a strong team and retaining talent, but their mentality is always to keep a team to Challenge for a title. I wish they would adopt the mentality of trying to ONLY WIN the title for example the Astros. The Astros manage to keep their young talent then every year ADD the most Dominant pitching at the deadline. This current Dodgers team doesn’t know how to manufacture a run in the most crucial time like the biggest game Ie, World Series. They don’t have Manny to protect J.T. Pollock is a bust, Kenley needs to be moved from closer, Pederson should have been traded for Anything, and Rich Hill is tired and done. I’m a believer that unless you win it all, 2nd place is no better than 30th. They kept Lux instead of making the necessary moves to strengthen the team, so they better bring him up and let’s see just how valuable he really is. Some may assume that my rant is being a nay sayer, and it probably is only because they “Mngt” keep building a triple A team rather than a bonafide powerhouse World Series champion. It’s frustrating because the Org has the most revenue of any team besides the Yankees. They chose not to hurt players feelings rather than go for the throat of the baseball kingdom. I sure hope I’m wrongand a mentality change sweeps through Dodgers land and changes Roberts sabermetric experiments, but I’ve seen this movie too many times expecting a different result and insanity lurks once again.

    1. Most spot-on analysis I’ve read matching my silent one. This should go up in the clubhouse along with mine. This is a team that has such talent and depth that they enjoy playing, therefore, beat whom they’re supposed to. For some reason, they’re also good enough to make it to the W.S. and be competitive. But…..they have a west coast mentality and there’s a difference with our Atlantic Ocean foes. You DON’T let your potential final’s competitor almost sweep you at home without showing any fire after being down. The Yankees clearly wanted it more.
      Better hope you play the A’s again.

    2. You knew Manny was rental at best especially when Seager was coming back Kirk, and Lux is going to be our second baseman you the our other position of need.They tired to fill needs, but costs too much. Also we needed a CFer especially to keep Bellinger out of there. Also why do you care anyways.

  3. I totally agree joc has no business leading off he should be batting at bottom. who they should consider at leadoff my i suggest Kiki or Alex verdugo these two players put the ball in play ,and make thing happen the role of a leadoff hitter is to get on base period not whatever it take punt, walk,hit, error and when on base these two are. threat to steal ,joc can’t do that and once lead off always leadoff from now to end season and into playoffs ,there one more thing I need say to Dave Robert stop screw with lineup all these shuffling is not working Yu want consistents then keep your lineupcard consistent 1.kiki 2.seagerr 3.turner4 bellinger 5.mincy 6.pollard 7 alex verdugo 8 willsmith 9 pitcher and you’ll see run production start to go up it’s a no brainier .

  4. Been aggravating to see this guy at 1 all year. Doesn’t Roberts get it? You can’t rely on a guy hitting streaky homers and batting 230 batting lead off. Same with KIKi who is a career 230 hitter. so what if he hits 375 for a week or 2. A guy like Beaty reminds me of a sort of Turner and should never be on the bench for either of these 2 mediocre at best hitters.

  5. Roberts doesn’t want to replace Joc because he hates to admit that he has made another bad decision. It all goes to the fact he wants to be liked more than win ballgames. Dodgers will never go all the way with him as manager.

    1. We’ll never go all the way with any manger because we’re cursed now so we win for another decade

  6. I agree. Strap, if he bats at all, should NOT be the lead off batter! For all his preparations in the batter’s box (drawing a line in the dirt. holding the bat up and staring at it. Stretching his back and grabbing his crotch), we get very little. Yes, occasionally we get a homer. But he really needs to focus on getting on base.

  7. I totally agree joc has no business leading off Kiki or verdugo leadoff are hustle players sparkplug who get on base, are a hard out , and put the ball play , threat to steal .that’s the role of a leadoff batter .joc is not a occasionally homerun is not what Yu want from yur lead off guy it’s no brainier baseball 101 and one more thing I have to say Dave Roberts stop screw with the lineup card 1.kiki2seager3turner4bellinger5muncy6pollard7verdugo8 will smith 9 pitcher and you’ll start to see run production go up its that simple stop overanalyzing Roberts and that all I have to say about that thks

  8. I don’t care that occassionally “his bat runs into one(a homerun).” Most of his at-bats are an automatic-out. When the opposing team pitches a LHP, joc is not in the line-up and forgets how to hit even when they have a right-handed reliever.

  9. Ya think? What was your first clue?
    Manager Roberts loves saber-metrics but how do .230 hitters work starting in a line up?
    It’s not just that, either!
    Whosever calling the pitching changes definitely doesn’t understand human nature.
    As a former pitcher, I would never want to play for Mr. Roberts.
    Yes, of course throw a lefty at a left hand batter, etc. But there’s a lot more to it than that in baseball.
    I like a lot about Coach Roberts, but his weaknesses are glaring.
    He is a guy that “waits too long to make pitching changes”, misunderstands Rookie pitchers, can’t evaluate a “pitcher missing his spots”, doesn’t understand that some pitchers can’t pitch with certain catchers, doesn’t allow his pitching coach to go to the mound often enough, doesn’t know how to use pitching to prevent rallies, doesn’t use pitching changes as a way of motivating his starters or relievers, taking pitchers who are doing well out of the game too soon, and certainly misevaluates the current abilities of his closer.
    Wow! I just don’t think the Dodgers can win it all with this type of handling of pitchers.
    Admirably, to his credit he has created a versatile team in his position switching and batting line up changes, but he really needs help when it comes to handling his pitchers, and .200 hitters!

    1. Doc V,
      You must be a former pitcher to be able to describe so accurately what’s going on inside a ball club between players and manager. Dave Roberts agrees too much with with the FO in making changes and doesn’t want to hurt players feelings. I only wish Tom Lasorda was still young and managing these Dodgers. Lasorda loved his players but most of the time he made the changes based on what was best for the team to win the game. But I guess that was in the past and we’re still enduring BAD decisions from Roberts. I’m just hoping that we win the WS this year. ???

      1. Yes, Vic, so true. All the guys on his team understand when the Manager has to make tough decisions but he is way too concerned about feelings. And yes, for Championship series especially the WS, it is another world. You must know how to close out games. I’m watching the Colorado game right now and I think Mr. Roberts is reading our blogs!!!
        He finally let one of the greatest pitching coaches (Coach Honeycutt) visit the mound and settle down Garcia (he had two on with only 1 out, Dodgers down 2-0 in the 4th). Then when he got that 2nd out, he yanked him for the lefty Kolarek, to end the inning. That’s baseball!!!
        Although Garcia came in after Urías and has been on a tremendous streak, you can’t go by emotions of “let’s leave him in there and let him work it out because we want him to know we trust him” type of thing. Garcia had already given up a homerun to Arrenado, and he was not hitting his spots. If that’s happening, they need to be pulled immediately. It’s as simple as that! And those pitchers who are having trouble, expect to be pulled. I don’t want to be left out there getting shellacked if I don’t have my stuff, and it’s a team thing and a personal thing.
        It’s like watching your fighter getting bludgeoned and not calling the fight and throwing the towel in. It’s merciless!
        On another point, when are the Dodgers going to protest the poor home plate upping?
        I’ve never seen so many obvious balls off the plate called as strikes!!! The Dodgers are a very, very good team at judging balls and strikes and it really puts them at a disadvantage when they are not rewarded for their patience and “eye”.
        The worst part is they don’t protest balls and strikes enough. They need to approach the home plate umpires more often!!!

    2. They should hire a coach that specializes in handling pitchers and he can under the radar tell Roberts what to do with pitchers specifically

      1. NODH,
        They have one of the greatest in Rick Honeycutt but I don’t think Mr. Roberts takes his advice enough. He certainly doesn’t ask him to visit the mound enough!!! (See my blog above re Garcia, maybe things are changing!)
        Two of the key areas regarding when to change pitchers are:
        1. They are hitting a lot of deep shots
        2. The pitcher is missing his spots.

        There needs to be more catcher communications or signals he pitchers that are not hitting their spots.
        Too many times pitchers are left out there too long.
        If you look at the last two WS you could call the disasters coming on this alone!
        And in a BIG GAME, never ever take a successful pitcher out based on pitch count… ahem… Rich Hill!!!
        Adrenaline and knowing human nature go a long way!!!

  10. Ya’ll are living in the wrong decade. “.234 average is bad” have you seen moneyball or read any literature on analytics? no one cares about average anymore. Joc has a high OBP with an .815 ops and a 112 ops+ the only measure he’s struggling in is an outdated stat that actually doesn’t mean much as far as run production

    1. Triple digits in strikeouts when he does not even play against lefties. Only in the 50s for RBIs, with almost 30 homeruns. That says mostly solo homers. He does not advance runners nor does he have productive outs. These are also facts used by saber geeks and they are not good.

    2. Oh boy of course an actor who casually watches and only shows up in the World Series would say that. He strikes out way too much a worthless out and he’s a solo homer or bust hitter, rarely makes a productive out and has no speed virtually the worst guy to have leadoff.

    3. OPS is not a valid stat to measure a lead off hitter. It is heavily weighted in favor of power hitters. His “high” OBP is .327. A decent lead off hitter should be around .370. Add in his strikeouts and almost total lack of foot speed and he is close to the worst possible choice to lead off.

      1. That being said Pollock is equally as bad and his foot speed or lack thereof should keep him out of centerfield.

    4. Brad, I agree w playing Joc because of those statistics. However, lead off?
      You need a guy that has a good ob% AND really makes the pitcher work. Then once he gets on is a threat on base to steal or stretch a play. That’s not Joc. Also, I understand why you would tend not to play him against left hand pitching, because his average is so low. But why in the world would you put Gyerko in there for him? A .190 hitter? Why not put Joc later in the lineup and work with him against left hand pitching until Freeze is back. That is opportunity lost for Joc to work on it and use the valuable “trust element” that Coach Roberts loves so much!
      But Joc at lead off? NO!

  11. Lux is here now officially here and should be tried in the leadoff spot as he has in the minors with Oaklahoma City.He hits both left handed and right handed pitching.Beatty should be starting over Pederson . Pederson should be used off the bench to pinch hit against right handers. A package of Barnes, Stripling and Pederson in the off season should help acquire prospects or a quality reliever.

  12. You’re over reacting to a rough patch..
    This happens every year, we lose 10 straight and everyone has a theory on how to fix the club. Joc Pederson has the Dodger record for lead off homeruns. The Dodgers got to where they are batting Joc lead off.

    1. How any “tough patches” are we suppose to endure?
      Come on Fernando, losing has become the norm, not the exception.
      Sure Joc hits some homers, but the net effect is that he not getting on base enough, which is what is needed from a lead off guy. Not to mention that he simply cannot hit lefties, at all.
      I like Joc as a platoon player & pinch hitter against righties, his outfield D is not bad, but his skill set is too limited for a lead off hitter. Yet clueless Dave Roberts blunders on.
      At least, after way too many games, Roberts figured out that Pederson cannot play first base.
      More than anything else though, the problem is Roberts.

  13. I totally agree with *all* of the comments above re: Joc Pederson. He is a player who should not be where he is in the Lineup. Leadoff is such an important position in baseball. I think Dave Roberts does a *basically* good job, but hey, are we going for “basically good” OR do we want to WIN the World Series? The best move he has made all season was to bring up Will Smith and KEEP him here. Hopefully Gavin Lux will take Pederson’s locker!

    *Someone* needs to put him in his place…which is NOT batting leadoff!

    1. You have no idea how analytics work do you? The game has evolved! The Red Sox use the same thing and beat us and have won 4 series since changing to it! Wake up before baseball leaves you behind!!

      1. Not quite pal. Boston had a set lineup that could hit all pitching and Cora actually had a mind of his own while managing. Analytics were an option but not a hard and fast rule. Cora even said the Dodgers were predictable and followed a formula no matter what. Kind of embarrassing and pathetic when the opposition says that

  14. Dave Roberts’ managing of the Dodgers line-up has always frustrated me, and putting Joc Pederson in the lead-off spot is #1 on the list of moves I find ridiculous.

    Historically, the role of a lead-off hitter is to get on base and, ideally, make things happen after getting on base. Lead-off and #2 hitters should get on base so the 3-6 guys can drive them home.

    Joc Pederson doesn’t get on base; he’s a .230 hitter. He also is not an effective base-runner. He wouldn’t even be in the line-up if he were playing on the 1977 Dodgers. He’s also not a clutch hitter.

    Why Dave Roberts continues to bat Joc lead-up is one of life’s great mysteries. Joc should be hitting sixth or seventh, if at all. He’s really only a bench warmer at best.

  15. I concur with these posts above here. But whether Joc bats leadoff or not, and I also think he is the wrong guy up there, the Dodgers have shown now in these past couple weeks that they are NOT PS material in any way, shape or form. Losing the first 3 games to the Dbacks says it all as far as I am concerned.

  16. Lyons you hit it with the total truth. My biggest dislike of the Dodgers is the fans made them one of the richest teams in the league and got nothing in return except the excuse about the the luxury tax. Shame on you Dodgers.

  17. Reading this as Joc homers 454 feet in the 11th against the Dbacks to take a 4-3 lead. Typical Joc.

  18. One other thing. While I fully agree Joc should hit much lower in the order when he starts (7th or maybe 8th), the leadoff hitter usually/almost always only leads off an inning in the 1st. After that, it’s the luck of the draw if he leads off an inning the rest of the game. So, while getting something going in the first inning is great, it’s not the end of the world if Roberts can’t pull the trigger and bat Joc lower in the order.

  19. And Dodgers will never win the World Series with this front office, who isn’t aggressive enough to do what it takes to put us over the top. Verlander just threw a no hitter today. Remember his first choice was to be a Dodger and we didn’t want to take on the last two years of his contract.? But let’s not hurt feelings and keep trotting out Kershaw and Jansen to keep serving up home run balls. We need someone like Ned Colletti running the team. He would have brought Verlander here and we would have at least one recent WS trophy.

    1. The geniuses calculated that Verlander would be finished by now. Boy were they wrong. He’s actually peaking

  20. It all starts with Dave Roberts’s poor managing.
    The guy never fails to make bad decisions on a daily basis.
    He is simply surrendering the MLB best record / home field advantage.
    In fact, the Dodgers are now in jeopardly of losing their NL best record to Atlanta.

    1. Jon, a classic example was the fact that Roberts changed up the lineup again just because of a LHP starting against them. I will say this though…later in the game AZ manager brings in a LHP to face Bellinger,and it usually is a % move that takes place here. But AZ manager may not have been too aware of Bellinger hitting LHP much better this year than last. In fact Bellinger’s HR was his 16th off LHP alone! There will be many players in MLB, juiced ball or not that will not have 16 HR’s for THE ENTIRE SEASON!

  21. Welcome to the Joc Pederson’s hater page! Wow!

    I would like to thank Marshall and all the people on this thread who trashed Joc. As he robbed “Chuck Nasty” of a 3 run home run last night, almost hit THREE home runs of his own and had his 7th game lead off home run of the season yesterday against Colorado, all this in ONE game, all this in ONLY 5 INNINGS, I could not help but think…….”Someone must have sent him the link to Marshall’s article and all the nasty comments that accompanied it”

    1. You know he’s always had homer barrages right? Then promptly goes back to striking out and making bad outs. Still can’t hit lefties either. He should be a platoon option and nothing more

    2. And btw if reading an article and nasty comments is the only thing to motivate him then that’s an issue

  22. Welcome back to the Joc Pederson’s hater page! Maybe there is something to my joke about this thread. As soon as this article was posted, & after getting that bat from Andre, Pederson is now 6 for 7 with a double (that just missed being a home run) and five home runs! He had 5 hits in 6 at bats in only a game and 1/2 played for the Colorado series! Over that short span (game four against Arizona to win the game, then a game and 1/2 versus the Rockies ) span he has FIVE home runs in three games leading off. He also tied the Dodger record for most home runs to start off a game from the lead off spot in a season @ EIGHT. But almost everyone on here doesn’t want him in the lead off spot? I am loving this!!!!!

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