Schebler and Joc, a starting path with similar forks
Joc Pederson and Scott Schebler were both drafted by the Dodgers in 2010, they were both left-handed outfielders, and neither were high draft picks. Joc was drafted in the 10th round, and Scott Schebler way back in the 26th round. They both had high strikeout rates headed into 2018 and they have both dropped their strike out rates from the over 20% range down to 14-15%. I found this last tidbit a little fascinating given that the overall trend in baseball is more strikeouts.
As they moved up the Dodger system, Joc stuck out and was always ranked higher in the prospect sheets than Scott. Scott had one strange claim to fame in the minors, he had sixty-two minor league triples but was not considered someone with above average speed. Scott has also hit exactly 100 minor league home runs.
With two players who are this similar usually one has to go and it was Scott Schebler who was traded in a three-team deal that has paid off for the Reds. The Dodgers got Trayce Thompson and Frankie Montas. Thompson had a few good weeks for the Dodgers in his three-year trial and was released a few weeks ago. He’s barely hanging onto a major league job. Frankie Montas came over and was expected to be a back-end starter or a high leverage relief pitcher. Instead, Frankie had a rib removed and never pitched an inning for the Dodgers before being included as part of the price for Rich Hill. Frankie pitched in 23 games last year for Oakland and was horrible. He is now back in AAA, trying to become a starter again. His last start was the best game he’s pitched in years. The Reds got Schebler and Jose Peraza. Peraza is now their starting shortstop whose best skill is his stolen base speed. Schebler has been a semi-fulltime outfielder who has had more success than many expected from him.
Joc was starting for the Dodgers in 2015 and for a few months looked like the best defensive center-fielder they had, had in a long while. He slugged alot of home runs early and was in the 2015 All-Star home run challenge. At the all-star break in 2015, Joc had a triple stat line of .230 / .364 / .487 with twenty home runs in only 366 plate appearances. The rest of the year Joc slugged .300 and went into 2016 as a huge question mark. Joc answered that question mark with a much better overall season in 2016 posting a sterling OPS+ of 126 but questions about his defensive skills in center field were now being asked. 2017 was much like 2015, Joc started out well but struggled once again in the second half. This time though the Dodgers replaced him in CF with Chris Taylor and Joc became a bench piece in Aug/Sept. Not a good bench piece, his offensive numbers were horrible. The only real success that Joc enjoyed in 2017 after the all-star break came during the 2017 World Series where he led the team in hitting . You could almost say he was the only Dodger to hit in the 2017 World Series.
Joc started 2018 so poorly that many including myself wondered if he wouldn’t be better served regaining his stroke in AAA and letting Alex Verdugo give his spot a shot. Luckily for Joc, but not for the Dodgers, Corey Seager suffered a season-ending surgery and Chris Taylor was slotted in as the everyday shortstop. So for now, Joc is back as a strong side platoon partner in CF with Kiké. This is not the same Joc we are used to and I have to say I’m not as enamored with this Joc as others might be. Joc’s strong suit was power. Right now he’s making contact and getting on base but has hit one home run in almost 100 plate appearances. If the power comes back with these newly found contact skills, they could have quite a player, but if the cost of the power was these new found contact skills, I’m not sure what they have.
Joc Pederson (Current 80.5 percent, Projected 69.9 percent)
….Pederson’s contact continues to improve, making him an exception. He’s swinging at even fewer pitches than past seasons, though the actual contact rate is down a speck from last season.
The problem is, despite fanning fewer times, Pederson isn’t taking advantage, either with more power or running more when he’s on. Further, he continues to be a platoon player, limiting his plate appearances. His hard-hit rate, while still above average, is falling. Pederson’s fly ball rate has dropped precipitously, further capping his power.
As discussed, playing time matters, but until Pederson starts doing more with his, he’s only relevant in NL-only formats, even with a career-high batting average.
Either way, Alex Verdugo impressed in his brief stint up, and Joc once again has several players much like himself trying to take his job in Alex Verdugo and Andrew Toles. The last time this happened they traded Scott Schebler. This time, I think they trade Joc.
This is what Joc has done in the major leagues. One thing that stands out for Joc is that he has gone from 585 to 476 to 323 plate appearances. That trend would have continued this year if not for the injury to Corey Seager.
Year Age PA 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB 2014 22 38 0 0 0 0 9 11 .143 .351 .143 .494 48 4 2015 23 585 19 1 26 54 92 170 .210 .346 .417 .763 113 200 2016 24 476 26 0 25 68 63 130 .246 .352 .495 .847 126 201 2017 25 323 20 0 11 35 39 68 .212 .331 .407 .738 95 111 2018 26 97 4 2 1 13 16 15 .253 .381 .392 .774 117 31 5 Yr 5 Yr 1519 69 3 63 170 219 394 .224 .347 .432 .779 112 547 162 162 558 25 1 23 62 80 145 .224 .347 .432 .779 112 201
Scott Schebler has not been shabby for the Reds. He hasn’t had the high note that Joc had in 2016 but he has been consistent with an OPS+ between 101 -109 in each of his major league season. The Dodgers made the right choice in trading Schebler because he was a corner outfielder and could not play center field but I’m I’ve been pleased to note that Scott has already had a successful major league career.
The reason I that I wrote this article is because I was reading the Todd Zola article I referenced above and Todd wrote about both Joc and Scott which got me to thinking about the paths their careers have taken given they were both drafted in 2010 as left hand hitting outfielders.
This is what Todd had to say about Scott:
Scott Schebler (Current 84.5 percent, Projected 75.5 percent)
Keeping in mind we’re at the bottom portion of the list, the relative difference between current and expected is dwindling, but still worth discussing. Schebler missed time and faces mainly right-handers, so his sample is the smallest analyzed.
The reason I opted to include him is that like Baez, Schebler’s improvement is due to better contact when chasing pitches. Admittedly, some hitters are capable of crushing non-strikes as the zone, while not arbitrary, may not represent the sweet spot for all batters. However, big picture, it’s better to offer at a strike than a ball. Perhaps Schebler is an exception, but maintaining a high and productive O-swing% seems like dangerous approach.
Schebler’s power will climb with the mercury. Just be careful, his contact is likely to slip, dragging average with it.
Year Age PA 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB 2015 24 40 0 0 3 4 3 13 .250 .325 .500 .825 127 18 2016 25 282 12 2 9 40 19 59 .265 .330 .432 .762 101 111 2017 26 531 25 2 30 67 39 125 .233 .307 .484 .791 103 229 2018 27 83 4 0 3 12 5 12 .267 .325 .440 .765 109 33 4 Yr 4 Yr 936 41 4 45 123 66 209 .246 .316 .465 .781 104 391 162 162 572 25 2 28 75 40 128 .246 .316 .465 .781 104 239