Dodgers phenom Joc Pederson is going through a tough stretch

The Dodgers' Joc Pederson sticks out his tongue as he reacts to fouling a ball off his foot in the fourth inning against the Oakland Athletics on July 28.

The Dodgers’ Joc Pederson sticks out his tongue as he reacts to fouling a ball off his foot in the fourth inning against the Oakland Athletics on July 28.

(Stephen Dunn / Getty Images)

You need patience with the young, sometimes painfully long patience. It’s difficult when you can see how clearly talented they are, how limitless their future, and still how much they struggle.

No one doubts Joc Pederson’s ability. He did not come by those 21 home runs accidentally. Or those National League-leading 122 strikeouts in 347 at-bats.

The Dodgers knew Pederson arrived with a reputation for swinging big and mounting the strikeouts. Still, it was difficult to foresee he’d swing and miss to this extent.


“I didn’t think he’d strike out this much,” said Manager Don Mattingly. “This is more than I wanted.”

Pederson has been striking out in big numbers all season, but at least earlier he was still drawing walks. His batting average might have appeared mediocre, but he walked so much he still ended June with a .384 on-base percentage.

Now, though, he’s striking out more than ever and not drawing walks. In the month of July, in 92 at-bats, he had 28 strikeouts and four walks and batted .163.

And for the first time Mattingly is admittedly concerned.

“Yeah, a little bit,” Mattingly said. “He seems to be frustrated.”

Pederson’s on-base percentage has dropped to a season-low .352, still a solid number, but he’s has only a .239 on-base percentage for his 22 games in July. And that’s a poor number, particularly for someone who bats leadoff.

Mattingly admitted there has been some thought to moving him down the lineup.

“We’ve been talking about it a little bit,” he said.

None of this, however, is to imply that Mattingly and the Dodgers have lost any faith in the 23-year-old rookie.

Despite his struggles and his obvious big swing, Mattingly said Pederson is working on making adjustments.

“He’s working on different things,” Mattingly said. “I know it looks like he’s swinging for the fences all the time. That’s not really what he’s trying to do. We’re working on him trying to get inside off the ball a little bit, use his body more. It’s not like he’s not trying, not working on stuff. He’s frustrated.”

Mattingly said when Pederson does make the mechanical adjustments to his swing, “he’s going to be a monster.”

But for now, it’s continued work and additional patience.

“You still see the huge upside,” Mattingly said. “Everything about Joc is what I like -- as far as work ethic, the kind of teammate he is, how he goes about his business. To me, when you have talent and work at it, you’re going to see improvement. It’s not always easy during the course of a season.”