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Sign of the times: Dodgers All-Star Joc Pederson batting .230

There might be no greater illustration of the devaluation of batting average than this: Joc Pederson, the Dodgers’ rookie outfielder, is starting the All-Star game.

He is batting .230.

This is not an all-time low, not even close. Pederson has the lowest batting average of an All-Star starter since all the way back in … 2012, when Dan Uggla (.221) was in the National League lineup and Mike Napoli (.228) was in the American League lineup, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Elias also reports that 20 players have started an All-Star game with a batting average of .230 or lower. The lowest: Dodgers coach Davey Lopes, who started in 1981 despite a .169 average.

Pederson has the lowest batting average of any NL player with at least 350 plate appearances, and the most strikeouts. He has 107 strikeouts at the break; Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly never struck out more than 43 times in any of his 14 full seasons.

“The game has changed,” Mattingly said. “There are so many guys that strike out 150 times. If you struck out 100 times when I came up, you’d be looked upon as a guy that struck out way too much.”

Pederson also has 20 home runs, on pace for 36. Mattingly, the 1985 AL most valuable player and a six-time All-Star, never hit as many as 36.

In Mattingly’s day, a rookie center fielder with such a low average and so many strikeouts might well be headed to the minor leagues, not to the All-Star game.

“Those guys could never really hit,” Mattingly said. “You had a speed guy that was more of a leadoff guy, that could go get it in the outfield. He maybe stole some bases, but he wasn’t that great of a hitter. So you looked at defense, right?

“From Joc’s standpoint, he’s a great defensive center fielder. He’s giving us power. He walks a lot, which is high on-base, so that is almost like getting a hit. And then the average, you see, is different. So it’s just a different style.”

Pederson ranks among the NL top 10 in walks and home runs, among the top 20 in on-base percentage and slugging percentage. The “wins above replacement” statistic, which did not exist in Mattingly’s day, ranks Pederson as the Dodgers’ most productive offensive player.

“I have the capability to slug and drive balls. That’s what I think about,” Pederson said. “Obviously, you want to have a good batting average, but you don’t want to sacrifice and start tapping the ball.”

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