Dodgers Roster: What Lies Ahead for Joc Pederson, Enrique Hernandez?

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Enrique Hernandez and Joc Pederson, both of whom have been very instrumental in the Dodgers’ success in recent years, aren’t just facing roster consequences with regards to the playoffs, but they’re also conceivably playing for their upcoming contracts in 2020.

Despite delivering a key long ball in Friday night’s victory over the Rockies, the 28-year-old Pederson’s season has been ugly, as he’s currently hitting .191/.296/.415 over 109 plate appearances. Entering the year, many believed that he could fill the designated hitter role nicely—at least against righty pitching—but at this stage of the game, there are probably a handful of other players that might be better options, at least based on current streaks. And, while his defense isn’t necessarily horrible, there’s really not much that sets him apart from other outfielders on the roster.

AJ Pollock has indeed deserved the extended amount of time he’s seen in left field, as his .843 OPS ranks third on the club, trailing only Mookie Betts and Corey Seager, unless you count Will Smith, who still doesn’t have the league minimum ABs to qualify for the leaderboards. More importantly, Pollock has shown that he still has enough quickness for the required defensive range in center field.

Nevertheless, with Max Muncy seeing time at third base to cover for Justin Turner’s hamstring injury, Cody Bellinger has consequently been playing more at first base, which opens up an outfield spot for Pederson to prove his value, specifically against righty pitching.

Joc was never a batting average machine. His best season average wise was in 2019 when he hit .249/339/.538, but his 36 long balls and career-high .876 OPS that year made him one of the most valuable offensive assets on the team. Clubs across the league might look hard at that season when offering Joc a potential deal, even though he’s a career .187/.261/.306 career hitter against southpaw pitching.

Pederson was set to make $7.75 million this year (before adjustments), and he could demand somewhere near eight-0figures annually if he hits the free agent market this winter.

Hernandez is in a completely different situation, as his defensive skills—his arm, glove and range—alongside his ability to handle almost every position on the field, puts him in an elite class among all MLB utility men. Still, if the 29-year-old Hernandez showed a consistence presence offensively, he might be playing for an eight-figure yearly salary instead of one in the mid-seven figures. What’s more, the fact that he’s one of the streakiest hitters on the clubs doesn’t help his cause in the least.

After his monumental performance on opening day, Hernandez has not done much with the bat at all this year. Minus that 4-for-5 performance, he is hitting .189/.228/.316 over 101 PA, calculating to a paltry .544 OPS. He did go 2-for-4 in the team’s victory over Arizona on Thursday, which might be a sign that he could be beginning one of his signature hot streaks.

Another thing to consider is that Hernandez is a career .213 hitter in the playoffs, while Joc has performed a bit better—remembering the three long balls against the Astros in the 2017 World Series—with a .240 average. Regardless, with 28 roster spots available, both players still make reasonable cases to be included on the postseason roster.

Looking ahead, while it’s definitely tough to consider exactly what Andrew Friedman and his troops are thinking long term, my guess is that we’ll probably see just one of Pederson or Hernandez wearing Dodger Blue next season.

(Special thanks to our commenting crew regulars for today’s topic)

14 thoughts on “Dodgers Roster: What Lies Ahead for Joc Pederson, Enrique Hernandez?

  1. Nice analysis. But, I do not think either will be a Dodger after this season. They are both rather redundant. The Dodgers have some kids coming and those roster spots will go to the kids. Or possibly some unknown player AF might be targeting since he knows both will be free agents. I think Kike has sealed his fate with a mediocre to really bad offensive year. Joc to me looks so disinterested in the whole thing, that you have to believe his heart is not in the game, and his lack of hustle is maddening.

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      1. Hard to know. This is such an outlier year it’s difficult to judge some of this. My guess is Joc has one foot out the door and Kiké? – .625 OPS guys that can field should be easy to find. I’d ask Mookie what he thinks.

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      2. For once I am going to disagree with you Dennis. I think letting Kike walk is going to be a very easy decision for AF. His offensive performance has to figure into his decision. His stellar defense has had some holes this year, and they have kids knocking on the door.

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  2. You honestly believe that Scoop? I have not seen him look like a hitter for weeks. I do not think someone is going to suddenly get it. Barnes worked hard with Mookie. Joc and Kike have been a black hole in the batting order. But Joc will be back in there tomorrow. I think they should have started Taylor somewhere. He has been hitting the ball as hard as anyone. But that is not how Doc operates.

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    1. Yep. I’m a believer. Kiké has a lifetime OPS+ of 97. Below average but tolerable because of his defense. He’s at 68. Much more below average than he should be at age 28. I think he has a surge in him. Not a “that’s not sexy” surge like Bronson Pinchot in Beverly Hills Cop, but a surge like Barnes had. And maybe it will come at an important time. Against Oakland.

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  3. Have to disagree Scoop. I think Kike is so fouled up, he barely knows where the batters box is. Personally. I would like to see Bellinger back off of being so close to the plate. He is once again vulnerable to that inside pitch he always has had trouble with.

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  4. Joc and Kike will continue to find their way into the starting lineup as both are Roberts favorites. Taylor, in spite of he striking out way too much, should be ahead of both on the depth chart. But he seems to be third on Roberts’ favorite sons list. Joc’s not even hitting HRs this season which in Roberts’ way of thinking is all he needs to be doing. I suppose both will be on the playoff rosters, but 2021 may be a different story. Don’t overpay these 2 as Corey, Cody, Buehler are in line for big paydays pretty soon.

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    1. I think Joc is playing his way outta here. But he can still hit ‘em 440’ every now and then and this organization loves the long ball. Joc’s OPS is .684. That’s almost 200 points than last year vans 125 points lower than his career average. Both he and Hernández could go off any day and as we get closer to the playoffs I think we will see improvement.

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