Why does Joc get so little love?
I didn’t expect much from Joc when he came up in 2015 but he surprised me with how he played CF, and of course, his first few months were Puig like which may have set the expectations at an unreasonable level. By May 1st, 2015, Joc had an OPS of 1.096 while playing some of the best CF I had seen from a Dodger CF in many a year. Even by June 1st, the OPS was still at an elite level of .933. Joc would hit four home run in four games in Colorado and spike his OPS to .998. It was pretty much a free fall from there to an OPS of .800 and eventually the season-ending .760. Joc stopped playing an electric CF and became a drag on the outfield defense until he was moved to left field this past season. His bat has never hit the highs of his first two months but he has certainly had his runs over the next three years, including an outstanding World Series in 2017. It might be the most recent World Series why he has lost some luster. Joc had one hit in the World Series, had zero walks, and looked lost. Yet, all the Dodgers looked lost in the 2018 World Series.
The one thing about Joc that I’ve always loved was his power swing. I stopped covering the Dodgers by the time he showed up so I never got to witness his batting practice up close but I bet it was worth watching.
The chart below from the Fangraphs Multi-Year selection process includes all NL outfielders who have had at least 1500 PA since 2015. Joc is the last of these outfielders to have earned at least 10 fWAR since 2015. Joc is not elite, but he is good.
Joc had the off year in 2017, otherwise he’d be right smack in the middle of that group above us. You are looking at a player who has earned between 2.7 – 3.6 fWAR in three of his four major league seasons. He has some positive trends working in his favor. The biggest trend has been the drop in his K rate from 29% to 19% while putting up his best ISO. The walk rate has now dropped below 10% after three straight years over 12%. I have no idea what impact the new Dodger hitting coach can have on Joc but if he can get Joc back over a 10% walk rate, keep the K rate below 20%, and the ISO above .250 we just might have a 4 fWAR player. We know his Achilles heel is left-handed pitching but it was the same for Andre Ethier who ended up being a valuable Dodger until he signed his extension.
I should appreciate Joc more.