Pederson with the 2017 Los Angeles Dodgers
|Born: April 21, 1992|
Palo Alto, California
|September 1, 2014, for the Los Angeles Dodgers|
|MLB statistics |
(through 2020 season)
|Runs batted in||303|
|Career highlights and awards|
Joc Russell Pederson ( PEE-d?r-s?n; born April 21, 1992) is an American professional baseball outfielder who is a free agent. He has played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Pederson was drafted by the Dodgers in the 11th round of the 2010 MLB draft, out of Palo Alto High School. His father, Stu Pederson, played for the Dodgers in 1985. By virtue of his Jewish heritage, he played for the Israel national baseball team in the qualifying rounds of the 2013 World Baseball Classic.
Pederson was ranked the Dodgers' # 1 prospect by Baseball America after the 2013 season. He was named the Pacific Coast League (PCL) Most Valuable Player in 2014, and made his major league debut in September of that year.
Beginning the 2015 season as the Dodgers' starting center fielder, Pederson was selected to the NL All-Star team. He made it to the final round of the 2015 Major League Baseball Home Run Derby, but lost to Cincinnati Reds third baseman Todd Frazier. Though he had 20 home runs before the break, Pederson only hit six after it and lost his starting role at the end of the year. Over the next several years, he was often used in a platoon role, getting starts against right-handed pitchers. He became the first Dodger to hit at least 25 home runs in each of his first two seasons, with 25 in 2016. Pederson was demoted to the minor leagues in late 2017 and initially left off the Dodgers' playoff roster, but went on to hit three home runs in the 2017 World Series, which the Dodgers lost to the Houston Astros in seven games. Pederson returned to the World Series in 2018 with the Dodgers, hitting a home run in Game 3 as the Dodgers lost to the Boston Red Sox in five games. He hit 36 home runs in 2019.
Pederson was born in Palo Alto, California, and is the son of Shelly (Cahn) and Stu Pederson. Stu played in eight games for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1985, and spent a total of 12 years in Minor League Baseball. Joc's mother was an athletic trainer in college. He is Jewish by birth, and is eligible because he is Jewish to play for the Israel national baseball team, which he has played on.[a] Through 2019, Pederson was second among Jewish baseball players in career home run frequency (behind Hank Greenberg), 7th in career slugging percentage (behind Kevin Youkilis), and 10th in career home runs (behind Mike Epstein). Pederson's Jewish maternal great-great-great-grandfather and great-great-great-uncle immigrated to the United States in the 1840s, and were charter members of synagogue Temple Emanuel in San Francisco. His great-great-grandfather Leopold Cahn (born in 1864; son of Israel Cahn, a wool merchant), great-grandmother Zelda Sugarman (born in 1907), and great-great-grandmother Fannie Morris (born in 1873) were born in San Francisco. In terms of his religious identity, Pederson has described himself as "pretty much nothing."
Joc's older brother, Tyger, played baseball for the University of the Pacific, then later played second base in the Dodgers minor league system. Joc's eldest brother, Champ, has Down's Syndrome and sometimes stays with him during the season. His younger sister, Jacey, is an elite national amateur soccer player, who played forward on the US Under-17 and Under-19 Women's National Soccer Teams.
Pederson attended Palo Alto High School, graduating in 2010. In his senior year, Pederson batted .466 with a .577 on-base percentage (OBP) and an .852 slugging percentage, with 20 stolen bases in 22 attempts, playing center field and leading off for the school's baseball team. He also played for the school's football team, leading it with 30 receptions in his senior year for 650 yards and 9 touchdowns.
Following his high school career, he played for the Waimea Waves of the Hawaii Collegiate Baseball League (HCBL). Pederson hit .319 for Waimea, was picked for the league's All-Star Game, and was named the top prospect in the HCBL by Baseball America.
In the 11th round of the 2010 Major League Baseball (MLB) draft, Pederson was selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers. He had committed to play at the University of Southern California, where his father played college baseball, but Joc chose instead to sign with the Dodgers. He was given a $600,000 signing bonus, the second-highest bonus of any Dodger selection in the draft and four times the amount recommended for draft picks later than the fifth round.
In 2011, as the youngest player with the Ogden Raptors of the Pioneer League, he had a .353 batting average/.429 OBP/.568 slugging percentage with 11 homers, leading the league in runs batted in (RBIs) (64), on-base plus slugging (OPS) (.997), and outfield assists (9). He also finished second in stolen bases (24) and on-base percentage, and third in runs (54) and walks (36) while playing 68 games. He was selected as both a Pioneer League and Rookie League All-Star, a Baseball America Rookie All Star, and a Topps Short-Season/Rookie League All Star.Baseball America rated him the Pioneer League # 3 prospect and the Best Hitter for Average in the Dodgers system for the 2011 season.
Pederson was promoted to the Class-A (Advanced) Rancho Cucamonga Quakes of the California League in 2012, at age 20. For the Quakes, he batted .313./.396/.526 with 96 runs (4th in the league), 48 extra base hits, and 26 stolen bases. The Dodgers selected him as their 2012 "Minor League Player of the Year" (the "Branch Rickey Award"), and MILB.com named him a Dodgers organization All Star.Baseball America rated him the California League #3 prospect, the Best Defensive Outfielder, and the player with the best strike zone discipline in the Dodgers system. Following the season, the Dodgers assigned him to the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League, where he was an AFL Rising Star in 2012. He was ranked the Dodgers' # 4 prospect by Baseball America (and # 3 prospect by MILB.com) after the 2012 season.
In 2013, he received a promotion to the Class AA Chattanooga Lookouts in the Southern League, starting the season as the youngest member of the team and the second-youngest position player in the league. Pederson was selected to play for the United States at the All-Star Futures Game, and was also selected to play in the Southern League All-Star Game. He hit .278 while leading the league in slugging percentage (.497). Pederson also finished second in home runs (22) and runs (81); third in stolen bases (31), on-base percentage (.381), and OPS (.878); and fifth in walks. He had 58 RBIs and 10 outfield assists in 123 games during the season, usually batting in the leadoff spot. Pederson earned postseason All-Star honors, was a Topps Double-A All Star and a Baseball America Minor League All Star, and was Baseball America's # 7 prospect in the league. He then played winter ball for the Cardenales de Lara in the Venezuelan Winter League, where he had a .439 on-base percentage. He was ranked the Dodgers' # 1 prospect by Baseball America after the 2013 season.
In February 2014, he was named the 34th-best prospect in baseball by Baseball America. The Dodgers invited him to spring training that year. Pederson was then assigned to the Class AAA Albuquerque Isotopes to begin the 2014 season. He was named minor league Prospect of the Month by MLBPipeline.com in April 2014 after batting .398 (second-best in the league)/.504/.663 with 6 home runs and 9 steals. He was the fifth-youngest position player in the Pacific Coast League, and almost five years younger than the league average. Ben Badler of Baseball America opined, "Pederson is the Dodgers' No. 1 prospect, No. 34 in baseball, and I still think he's underrated."
Pederson was named to the mid-season Pacific Coast League All-Star team after batting .319/.437 (leading the PCL)/.568 (3rdo) with a 1.005 OPS (leading the PCL), 17 home runs (tied for sixth in the minor leagues), 57 walks (tied for first in the PCL), 58 runs scored (2nd in the PCL), and 20 stolen bases (3rd in the PCL), in 74 games. On July 24, he became the second minor leaguer to hit 20 home runs and steal 20 bases in 2014, and the first Isotopes player ever to have a 20/20 season. In doing so, he became the second LA Dodger minor leaguer ever to have two 20/20 minor league seasons, joining Mike Marshall, who did it in 1979 and 1981.
On August 23, in his 115th game of the season Pederson became the first player in the PCL in 80 years (since Frank Demaree in 1934, in 186 games), and the fourth all-time, to hit 30 homers and steal 30 bases in the same season. The only other Pacific Coast League hitters to do it were Lefty O'Doul (1927, in 189 games) and Hall of Famer Tony Lazzeri (1925, in 197 games). He was also only the second Dodger minor leaguer to ever do it, joining Chin-Feng Chen (1999; 31/31 for Class A San Bernardino).
Pederson finished his minor league season hitting .303/.435 (leading the league)/.582 (3rd in the league). He led the PCL in runs (106), home runs (33), walks (100), and OPS (1.017), while stealing 30 bases (3rd in the league). Pederson set Isotopes single-season records for walks and runs scored. He batted .306/.442/.573 against righties and .299/.422/.598 against lefties, while hitting .366 with runners on base. Some accolades he received after the season were the 2014 PCL Most Valuable Player, a selection to the postseason All-PCL team, and the PCL Rookie of the Year Award.Baseball America named him their Class AAA Player of the Year, a Class AAA All-Star, and a member of their 2014 Minor League All-Star team. Pederson won the Branch Rickey Award for the second time, sharing the award with shortstop Corey Seager.
With major league rosters expanding to 40 players for September, Pederson was added to the Dodgers' 40-man roster and called up to the Majors for the first time on September 1, 2014. Manager Don Mattingly said, "The people in our organization that have seen him the most say he's the best center fielder in our organization".
Against the Washington Nationals that night, with the Dodgers trailing 6-4 with two outs and two runners on base, Pederson pinch-hit for pitcher Yimi García. He took Rafael Soriano to a 3-2 count but was called out on strikes to end the game. He started in center field the following day and picked up his first Major League hit on a single to right center off of Doug Fister in the second inning. In 18 games, he had four hits in 28 at-bats.
After the Dodgers traded Matt Kemp in December 2014, Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times wrote that the team planned to start Pederson in center field in the 2015 season.Baseball America named him the #8 prospect in 2015, and MLB.com ranked him the 13th-best prospect in baseball, and the #2 outfield prospect, going into the 2015 season. He was named the Dodgers Opening Day starting center fielder for the 2015 season in April, after having led the team in home runs and RBIs during spring training, beating out Andre Ethier in the competition. At 22 years of age, he was the youngest Dodgers opening day starting center fielder since Willie Crawford (in 1969), and the third-youngest player in the NL.
He hit his first MLB home run on April 12 off of A. J. Schugel of the Arizona Diamondbacks in a 7-4 victory. On May 1, he hit his first major league grand slam off of Rubby De La Rosa of the Diamondbacks, with the estimated 446-foot shot being the longest home run hit by a Dodger at home since 2012. The next day, he became the first Dodgers rookie to homer in four consecutive games since Bill Sudakis in 1969, as well as the youngest Dodgers rookie ever to do so. On May 23, Pederson hit his third leadoff home run of the season, tying the Dodgers' rookie record set by Johnny Frederick in 1929.
Pederson homered in both games of a day-night doubleheader on June 2, with his second homer being estimated at 480 feet, the longest in the Majors at that point of the season. On June 3, he homered in his fifth consecutive game, becoming the first Dodgers rookie to ever do so. That also tied the team record, held by Roy Campanella (1950), Shawn Green (2001), Matt Kemp (2010), and Adrián González (2014-15). Coupled with his four-game home run streak in May, he became only the second rookie in the modern era to have two home run streaks of at least four games (joining Minnesota's Jimmie Hall; 1963).
Pederson was selected to the National League squad in the 2015 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, the first Dodgers rookie to be selected as an All Star since Hideo Nomo in 1995, and he was later chosen to start in left field after Matt Holliday withdrew from the game due to an injury. He became the first Dodgers rookie position player to ever start in an All-Star game. He was also selected to participate in the 2015 Home Run Derby. The #4 seed, Pederson hit the longest homer of the evening at 489 feet, became the first Dodger to make it to the Derby finals, and came in second, losing 15-14 to Todd Frazier in the final round.
Pederson's performance tailed off in June and July. Batting .230 with 20 home runs before the All-Star Game, he would only hit six in the second half of the season, batting .178 for the remainder of the season. On August 23, Pederson lost his starting center fielder job due to his extended slump.
In 151 games in 2015, he hit .210/.346/.417 with 26 homers (the second-most by a Dodger rookie in franchise history, behind Mike Piazza's 35 in 1993) and 67 runs, 54 RBIs, 92 walks (5th in the NL; third-most by a Dodger rookie in franchise history behind Jim Gilliam (100 in 1953) and Billy Grabarkewitz (95 in 1970), 18.5 at-bats-per-home-run (10th in the league), and 4.21 pitches-per-plate-appearance (6th-most in the major leagues). His 26 home runs averaged a distance of 421.7 feet, the longest average distance of any MLB hitter. He tied the lowest RBI total ever by a player with 25 or more homers (Ron Gant also hit 26 home runs with 54 RBIs, in 2000). He also tied Matt Kemp for the Dodgers franchise strikeout record, with 170 (3rd in the National League). At the conclusion of the season, he was selected to Baseball America's All-Rookie team.
The Dodgers won the NL West title, and Pederson reached the playoffs for the first time as Los Angeles faced the New York Mets in the 2015 NL Division Series (NLDS). He got starts in Games 1 and 5 of the series but was hitless as the Dodgers fell to the Mets in five games.
Despite losing his starting role late in the 2015 season, Pederson began 2016 as the Dodgers' center fielder once again, though he would serve in a platoon role, mainly playing against right-handers. He hit solo home runs against Jered Weaver and A. J. Achter on May 17 in a 5-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels. Against the Diamondbacks on June 14, he hit two solo home runs against Archie Bradley in a 7-4 victory. On June 28, Pederson left a game against the Milwaukee Brewers after spraining his right AC joint while making a diving catch against the outfield wall; he was placed on the DL three days later, but he returned on July 19. On July 29, he hit a two-run home run against Daniel Hudson and had four RBIs in a 9-7 victory over the Diamondbacks. He hit solo home runs against Tom Koehler and Brian Ellington on September 10 in a 5-0 victory over the Miami Marlins.
Pederson appeared in 137 games in 2016, batting 246/.352/.495 with 25 home runs, 25 doubles, and 68 RBIs. His 25 home runs averaged a distance of 412.1 feet (the 7th-longest average distance of any MLB hitter), and he saw 4.18 pitches-per-plate-appearance (10th-most in the NL). He became the first Dodger to hit 25 home runs in each of his first two seasons.
For the second year in a row, Pederson reached the playoffs as the Dodgers clinched their fourth straight NL West title. In the third inning of Game 4 of the 2016 NLDS against the Nationals, Pederson had a painful RBI, driving in a run when Joe Ross hit him with a pitch with the bases loaded. Pederson later had an RBI double in the fifth inning against Reynaldo López, and the Dodgers won 6-5. His home run against Max Scherzer in the seventh inning of Game 5 forced Scherzer from the game and opened the scoring for the Dodgers, who won 4-3 to advance to the NL Championship Series (NLCS) against the Chicago Cubs. In Game 3 of the NLCS, he had an RBI single against Mike Montgomery and scored a run as the Dodgers beat the Cubs 6-0. He had four hits in 21 at bats in the series, scoring three runs, but the Dodgers fell to the Cubs in six games.
Pederson hit a grand slam home run on Opening Day against the San Diego Padres on April 3, 2017. It was the first grand slam by a Dodger hitter on Opening Day since Eric Karros hit one on April 3, 2000, against Montreal. His five Opening Day RBIs were the most by a Dodger since Raúl Mondesí drove in six in 1999 against the Diamondbacks. On May 23, in a 2-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals, Pederson collided with teammate Yasiel Puig in the outfield, and went on the 7-day concussion disabled list. He would not return until June 13, when González went on the disabled list. Pederson's batting average fell from .248 on July 28 to .215 on August 18 after he batted .049 in 15 games. On August 19, Pederson was sent to Triple-A after the Dodgers acquired Curtis Granderson from the New York Mets. "That was [my] first time being demoted," Pederson reflected. "But the [PCL] showed me a lot, the stuff I needed to work on." Pederson felt like he had made helpful adjustments, but he only batted .182 after getting recalled in September. In 2017, he batted .212/.331/.407 with 11 home runs and 35 RBIs in 273 at bats.
The Dodgers won the NL West for the fifth year in a row, but Pederson was left off their roster for the start of the playoffs. He was added to the roster for the 2017 NLCS because of an injury to Seager. He was used mainly off the bench in the series, though he did get a start in Game 3; the Dodgers won the series in five games. Seager returned for the 2017 World Series against the Houston Astros, and Granderson was left off the roster to make room for him, opening up playing time for other Dodger outfielders. After not playing in Game 1, Pederson started five of the next six World Series games. In the World Series, Pederson broke a Dodgers postseason record that was established in 1953, as he had five consecutive games with an extra-base hit, surpassing Billy Cox, Andre Ethier, and A.J. Ellis. He hit a fifth-inning home run against Justin Verlander in Game 2, the first hit of the game for the Dodgers, though they would go on to lose 7-6. In Game 4, with the Dodgers leading 3-1 in the top of the ninth, Pederson hit a three-run home run against Joe Musgrove, adding insurance as the Dodgers won 6-2. "That was a huge hit by Joc," manager Dave Roberts told reporters after the game. He hit another home run against Musgrove in Game 6, as the Dodgers won 3-1. In 18 at bats, he batted .333/.400/.944 and led the Dodgers in runs (6) and home runs (3), while tying for the team lead in doubles (2) and RBIs (5). However, the Dodgers would fall to the Astros in seven games.
Pederson signed a one-year, $2.6 million contract with the Dodgers for 2018, avoiding salary arbitration. He spent much of the season in a platoon role in left field with the right-handed Kemp, whom the Dodgers had reacquired for the 2018 season. He had two-home-run games within a week of each other, in Dodger victories on June 2 and June 8.
On September 29, Pederson hit his eighth leadoff home run of the season, off of San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Dereck Rodríguez, passing Davey Lopes for the franchise record for leadoff home runs in one season. For the season, in 59 games batting as the leadoff hitter, he hit .309/.356/.818. In his 2018 campaign he played in 148 games, hitting .248/.321/.522 with 25 home runs and 56 RBIs in 395 at bats. His improvement in slugging percentage of .115 over the prior year helped him earn the fifth-highest total in the majors. On defense, Pederson had the third-best fielding percentage among National League left fielders (.992), finishing fifth among them in assists (six).
The Dodgers won the NL West for the sixth year in a row, putting Pederson in the playoffs for his fourth straight year. In Game One of the 2018 NLDS, Pederson hit a first pitch leadoff home run against Mike Foltynewicz of the Braves in a 6-0 victory. He had hits in each of the other games of the series, which the Dodgers won in four games. In the NLCS, he had three hits in 13 at bats as Los Angeles defeated the Brewers in seven games. After appearing off the bench in the first two games of the 2018 World Series against the Boston Red Sox, Pederson played 15 innings of Game 3, hitting a solo home run against Rick Porcello in the third inning of an 18-inning, 3-2 Dodger triumph. That was Los Angeles's only victory of the series, as they fell to the Red Sox in five games.
Pederson agreed to a one-year, $5 million contract with the Dodgers for 2019, avoiding salary arbitration. On May 14, 2019, Pederson hit his 100th career home run against San Diego Padres starting pitcher Chris Paddack. Pederson participated in the Home Run Derby at the 2019 MLB All-Star Game and lost in the semi-finals to Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in a battle that went to a swing off tie-breaker. From September 1 to 4, he became the second player in National League history (after Larry Walker) to have an extra-base hit in six consecutive at bats.
In 2019 he played in 149 games, hitting .249/.339/.538 with 36 home runs and 74 RBIs in 450 at bats, and was 5th in the NL and tied for 5th of all Dodgers ever with a home run every 12.5 at bats. He tied the major league record with six multi-homer games from the leadoff spot (matching Francisco Lindor in 2018).
In the first game of the 2019 NLDS against the Washington Nationals, Pederson smashed the hardest-hit Dodgers home run of the year, with a 114.9 mph exit velocity. The Dodgers won that game 6-0. Pederson also had two hits and a run scored in Game 5, but the Nationals defeated the Dodgers 7-3 in 10 innings, clinching a series victory.
Pederson was awarded $7.5 million for the 2020 season, after losing an arbitration hearing with the Dodgers. Though still used primarily as a corner outfielder, he began getting a few starts at designated hitter as the NL implemented it for the first time in 2020. In the second game of a doubleheader against the Padres on August 5, he hit two home runs and had five RBIs in a 7-6 Dodger triumph.
In the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, Pederson batted .190/.285/.397 with 21 runs, seven home runs, and 16 RBIs in 121 at bats. He was 4th in career at-bats-per-home-run among all Dodgers (16.6), and 10th in career hit by pitch (44). He had only one at bat in the first round of the playoffs, but had two hits in five at bats in the second round, including two RBIs.
In Game 3 of the 2020 National League Championship Series, he hit his 8th career playoff home run, fourth-most in Dodgers history, in 132 at bats. Dodgers starting pitcher Alex Wood quipped: "They call it 'Joctober' for a reason." He had seven hits in that series in 18 at bats. In Game 5 of the 2020 World Series he hit the fifth home run of his World Series career, giving him at that point the fourth-best World Series slugging percentage in the wild-card era (minimum 50 plate appearances) behind George Springer, David Ortiz, and Hideki Matsui.Max Muncy noted: "The guy performs on the huge stage. This is just what he does." In the World Series, Pederson had four hits in 10 at bats as the Dodgers won the championship.
Pederson, by virtue of his Jewish heritage, played for the Israel national baseball team in the qualifying rounds of the 2013 World Baseball Classic, the youngest player on the team. The Israeli team has the same requirement as does Israel for automatic Israeli citizenship: that a person have at least one Jewish grandparent. Pederson's mother provided the papers evidencing his Jewish heritage after obtaining them from the synagogue her father Larry Cahn attended. He batted second for Team Israel, and hit .308 with three steals. Pederson started all three games of the qualifier in right field. During the first game, Pederson went 1 for 5 with two strikeouts and left three runners on base. He went 2 for 4 with a run scored and a strikeout in the second game, also stealing a base. During the third and final game, Pederson went 1 for 4, scored two runs, walked twice, struck out, and stole a base.
Pederson married longtime girlfriend Kelsey Williams in January 2018. They live in Studio City, California. In October 2018, during the National League Championship Series between the Dodgers and the Milwaukee Brewers, their daughter Poppy Jett was born.
Through 2019, Pederson was second among baseball players of Jewish descent in career home run frequency (behind Hank Greenberg), 7th in career slugging percentage (behind Kevin Youkilis), and 10th in career home runs (behind Mike Epstein). In November 2019, Pederson was inducted into the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame of Northern California. He was inducted into the Southern California Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 2020.