Should we? Shouldn’t we? I just don’t know anymore.
I have a pretty good idea who Joc Pederson is. We all should. We’ve seen him go on home run binges occasionally, usually finishing with 20-25, but never over his nine-year career has he hit better than .249 in a season. He’s also a career .205 hitter against left-handed pitchers, making him best suited for a platoon role. It’s one he figures to fill for a team like the Giants, especially.
But he was arguably the best hitter in baseball for the first three weeks of this season, batting .353 (18 for 51) with six homers in 16 games. Who cares, right? Small sample, and he went on to hit .089 (4 for 45) over his next 17 games, bringing his numbers down to size. That’s baseball, Suzyn.
Nonetheless, it happened, and now it’s happening again. Pederson homered three times Tuesday against the Mets, driving in eight runs.
“It was probably the best offensive performance that I’ve ever been around,” manager Gabe Kapler said.
So what? Hot, cold, hot … what comes next? Cold, presumably. Maybe. Probably. But I’ll note that Pederson’s first cold stretch was immediately preceded by a groin injury, which cost him time and potentially threw off his rhythm. I’ll also note that the three-homer game came on the same day he had an intense conversation with Barry Bonds about hitting, one that lasted right up to the point when Pederson was supposed to take the field.
“Just getting knowledge from such a good hitter and the way he thinks about baseball and hitting, it just helped connect some dots to free my mind up at the plate,” Pederson said. “I was able to put some good swings on pitches today.”
I’ll grant you there isn’t a lot of meat on those bones, but the timing is certainly curious. And, worth noting, Pederson followed up the three-homer game with another home run Wednesday … off a lefty. It was his first start against one. Granted, that lefty was one almost no one has heard of (Thomas Szapucki), but still. Maybe Kapler is loosening the restrictions.
How usable can he be in Fantasy Baseball if he never — er, almost never — plays against left-handed pitchers? Well, if he’s going to continue to produce like he has so far, usable enough. Statcast actually thinks he deserves better than he’s gotten, assigning him a .335 xBA and .716 xSLG. Plus, this Giants regime has a gift for maximizing the talents of veteran players, having done so with numerous pitchers and hitters over the past couple years. In that context, maybe I don’t know who Pederson is after all.
But probably I do. I think so, yeah. Wait, he’s only 52 percent rostered in CBS Sports leagues? Perhaps I can squeeze another outfielder on my roster just to see. It’s not the highest priority in weekly leagues, but in leagues where you can change your lineup daily, avoiding left-handers as needed, it’s probably a must.
Possible waiver wire pickups