LOS ANGELES — Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson went 0 for 3 against the San Diego Padres on Sunday. His day at the plate included a foul pop-out and two groundouts to a second baseman shifted into shallow right field. For Pederson, it was a perfect microcosm of a miserable August in which he has only one hit.
“I think for Joc there’s a mechanical issue,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “There’s an approach issue. He understands this: getting back to the big part of the field, he’s going to have more success. When he’s coming out of his swing, getting more rotational and hitting the ball to the second baseman, that’s not where he wants to be.”
Pederson began the month with a .243 batting average, .353 on-base percentage and a .472 slugging percentage — consistent with the .246/.352/.495 slash line he posted in 2016. Sunday, those numbers fell to .216/.330/.420.
Pederson, a left-handed hitter, remains a notoriously hard swinger in his third full season. Typically he has a good eye for the strike zone, and his strikeout and walk rates are virtually unchanged this month.
Lately, the problem lies in the kind of contact Pederson is making. He’s hit only three balls to the opposite field in August compared to 12 in July. His hard-hit rate has plummeted, dragging his batting average on balls in play down too.
Considering the Dodgers’ vaunted depth, Pederson might have a short rope for failure. Roberts said he’s considered swapping Pederson, who typically bats seventh, with right fielder Yasiel Puig, who typically bats eighth, “but right now I’m not prepared to move Yasiel.”
Puig has a career-high 21 home runs this season to go with a .337 on-base percentage. Those numbers are unusually high for a number-8 hitter.
“There’s a little bit to having Yasiel thrive in the eighth (spot) and being able to hit with the pitcher behind him,” Roberts said. “Also there’s a lineup construction, as far as the opponent and their bullpen….