2015 Fantasy Baseball: Rookie Report – It’s Goin’ Down feat. “Yung” Joc Pederson
Joc Pederson is surely surpassing all expectations even the most homerific Dodgers fans had for him coming into the season. The freshly turned 23-year-old leads all rookies in Wins Above Replacement as of May 8. He also leads in home runs, runs and walk rate. Pederson’s performance to date is mostly unexpected, but it’s not too far off his minor league numbers.
Pederson improved his home run and isolated power totals each year from 2012 to 2014 in the minors. He hit 18 homers in ’12, followed by 22 and 33, respectively, the next two years. His ISO mark went from .203 in ’12 to .219 and .279, respectively, in ’13 and ’14. Pederson’s .368 2015 ISO is surely unsustainable, but even if it stabilizes around his career minor league mark of .223 that’s still a great number especially for a player in a great offense. One might also look at Pederson’s BABIP and see it sitting at .341 and expect regression. But thanks to Pederson’s plate discipline – he leads the majors in walk rate – and his penchant for hitting the ball extremely hard – he ranks tied for 16th among hitters in batted balls hit over 100 mph – he’s very capable of keeping a high BABIP. His minor-league BABIP was .356.
Pederson recently moved up to the leadoff spot in the Los Angeles lineup April 29, and even though he’s only batting .212 in those nine games, he has a .366 OBP and six homers. That’ll do. He’s not going to keep hitting home runs at this pace, but his plate discipline, batted ball velocity and lineup spot make him a fixture for now and the future.
Pederson’s teammate Carlos Frias has started twice in the past eight days, and he’s scheduled to start twice this week. With the loss of Brandon McCarthy and Hyun-jin Ryu still out, the Dodgers desperately need someone to step up and help out their rotation. Enter Frias. The 25-year-old has a 3.15 FIP and 3.00 xFIP this season in 12.2 innings. Despite not making it out of the sixth inning in either start, he has a 9:2 strikeout to walk rate in his two starts.
Frias has the chance to be a deep-league asset this week against Miami and Colorado, both of whom he gets at home. Both teams are about average against right-handers, and Frias has arguably the most upside of anyone that would be available in almost any league for an upcoming two-start week. Among pitchers with at least 100 pitches thrown this season, he has the highest average velocity on all his pitches by well over a mile per hour, according to Baseball Prospectus. His out-pitch is his cutter, and he has recorded 10 strikeouts in 16 at-bats this season ending in a cutter. It gets a lot of swings and misses; in fact Frias ranks third in whiffs per swing with a cutter this season, according to BP.
Frias started his 2015 tenure in LA in the bullpen, and he might return there. But for now he’s shown some signs of being able to be a successful starter.