Joc Pederson 2016 Breakout Hitter @ScoutFantasy

In his first full season of the majors, OF Joc Pederson smashed 26 HRs in 480 at bats while each HRs traveled 421.7 feet (longest in the majors in 2015 with 18 or more HRs). Unfortunately, Joc only hit .178 after the All Star break with only six HRs and 14 RBI in 180 at bats to remove him from Fantasy owner’s wish list in 2016.

His failure was tied to his high K rate (29.1) with almost equal during his success (29.2 percent before the break even with 20 HRs in 300 at bats) and failure (28.8 percent over his second half slump). He clearly lost his confidence and rhythm over the second half of the year, but he maintained a high walk rate (15.5), which almost matched his plus walk rate (15.8) over the first half of the season.

Just for comparison, 3B Kris Bryant is an up and coming star in major league baseball. He led the National League in strike outs (199) with a high K rate (30.4) and a lower rate (11.9) than Pederson. Bryant’s ability to hit for a respectable batting average (.275) was due to his huge batting average when he made contact (CTBA — .428), which was supported by his 2014 season in the minors (.485) plus .462 over 128 at bats in the minors in 2013 and .408 in 228 at bats in the college in 2013. Over 648 at bats in the minors, Kris hit .327 with 206 Ks in 773 plate appearances (26.6 K rate).

Over five seasons in the minors, Joc hit .302 with 84 HRs, 271 RBI, and 113 SBs in 1641 at bats. This projects to about 28 HRs, 90 RBI, and 38 SBs over 550 at bats. His K rate (21.1) was below the league average, but much better than his failure in this area in the majors while showcasing a high walk rate (13.7).

Before the All Star break, Pederson hit .358 when he made contact compared to .403 in his minor league career. After the break, he only hit .274 when he didn’t strike out.

Another player drawing high interest in the 2016 draft season is George Springer. Over 796 plate appearances in the majors, George has a K rate of 28.0 (33.0 percent in his rookie season over 345 PA). His walk rate (11.2) has been well above the major league average while falling just below his minor league career (12.5). In his minor league career, Springer hit .301 with 65 HRs, 207 RBI, and 88 SBs in 1291 at bats with a 26.4 percent K rate. His ability to hit for a high batting average is due his elite contact batting average (.437 in his minor league career). So far in the majors, his CTBA is .380. His minor league resume projected over 550 at bats would be 28 HRs, 88 RBI, and 37 SBs.

Just based on minor league resume, Joc Pederson and George Springer have resumes that are real close to each other. Pederson should have a lower strike out rate over his career while flashing a stronger walk rate. Springer has plus strength and power leading to an edge in higher batting average when the ball is put in play.

Since March 1st in the NFBC draft season, Kris Bryant has an ADP of 13 and George Springer has an ADP of 25 compared to 165 for Joc Pederson. Joc can’t match the upside of power Bryant, but his approach at the plate is just as good with more upside than both of these top drafts picks.

When you add in the change in manager for the Dodgers (Dave Roberts), who stole over 30 bases five times in his career, the Dodgers should be much more aggressive on the base paths in 2016. Joc didn’t have a great success rate (73.8) in his minor league career so I have to temper my expectations.

I believe his approach should lead to a top of an order opportunity in 2016. I’ve projected him to bat leadoff while his future points to him being the number three hitter for the Dodgers. This season Pederson is an undervalued asset in the early draft season and I expect him to be a top 40 player selected in 2017. Based on my early projections, I have Joc hitting .266 with 111 runs, 29 HRs, 72 RBI, and 23 SBs in 570 at bats with minimal growth in his K rate (25.7).

Over the next three weeks, a Fantasy owner will need to follow spring training closely while keeping a close eye on drafts to see if Pederson is gaining momentum. Joc is my breakout hitter of the year and I view him as a must own in the 2016 drafts season. It really comes down to his value on draft day. In the home leagues, he should be discounted unless you live in Los Angeles.

In Las Vegas at the National Fantasy Baseball Championship, I drafted Joc in all three of my main events plus rostered him on the $15,000 Platinum League. Needless to say, I’m all in on Pederson in 2016.