How Joc Pederson's Start Stacks Up Among MLB Rookie Greats
There is no doubt that Major League Baseball is undergoing a very powerful youth revival here in 2015.
The emergence of young sluggers like Kris Bryant, Bryce Harper, Joey Gallo and the presence of established young stars like Giancarlo Stanton and Mike Trout have brought some much needed power back into the game. Among those young sluggers is one who is off to a ridiculously hot start in this, his rookie season: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson.
What Pederson is doing right now in kind of ridiculous. In 53 games and 220 plate appearances, Pederson is hitting .267/.393/.606 with 17 home runs, 34 runs scored and 32 RBI, with a weighted on base average (wOBA) of .420 and a weighted runs created (wRC+) of 172. His fWAR of 2.8 is sixth-best in all of baseball, and his 17 dingers are tied for second, behind Harper and Nelson Cruz, who both have 18.
What is most impressive is that Pederson is doing this as a 23-year-old rookie, and the kinds of numbers he's putting up are rare indeed.
The table above ranks players 23 or younger by home runs hit through the first 53 games in a season. Only Harper's start to the season (hard to believe he's a year younger than Pederson at just 22) has hit more homers at that age in the first 53 games of a season than Pederson has this year.
Pederson is on pace for 52 home runs this year, which would put him on top of this highly prestigious list.
|Albert Pujols||2001||St. Louis||37||21|
|Mike Piazza||1993||Los Angeles||35||24|
That table lists the all-time home run leaders in a rookie season, with McGwire's legendary 49-home run performance in 1987 the benchmark. While it's impossible to know if Pederson will keep up this pace, he is currently hitting homers at a brisk enough rate to pass McGwire and become the all-time rookie home run leader.
What's fascinating is that Pederson is providing so much of this power from the leadoff spot. Here are the single-season home run leaders among lead-off hitters, and you'll see one guy dominates this list.
Obviously, if Pederson was to hit 51 home runs, he'd blow this field away. But, of course, his prodigious power could also force the Dodgers to move him out of the leadoff spot and into the middle of the order at some point.
Also, Pederson comes into tonight's game at Dodger Stadium having hit a longball in five straight games. He'll try to make it six in a row at Dodgers Stadium against the St. Louis Cardinals, and he'd join an exclusive list if he's able to pull that off.
|Ken Griffey Jr.||1993||8|
|14 tied at 6||Â|
The last player to hit six homers in six straight games was Chris Davis for Baltimore in 2012. But never before has a a lead-off hitter hit a homer in five games in a row, and never has a rookie hit a dinger in six straight. He'll have his work cut out for him tonight against one of the best young pitchers in the National League, Michael Wacha, although Wacha should probably watch out for stuff like this.
Joc donâ€™t stop. pic.twitter.com/AOwX8Zo4bCâ€” MLB GIFS (@MLBGIFs) June 3, 2015
Of course, it's unlikely he'll keep up this home run pace all year. Our projections see him slowing down considerably, finishing with 29 home runs, 78 RBI and 74 runs scored with an OPS of .829. But that would still be an outstanding rookie campaign for the 23-year-old.
But if he manages to surpass those projections, we could be looking at a historic rookie season for Joc Pederson.