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Joc Pederson


Joc Russell Pederson was born on April 21, 1992, in Palo Alto, California, and is the son of Shelly (Cahn) and Stu Pederson. Pederson attended Palo Alto High School, graduating in 2010. In his senior year, Pederson batted .466 with a .577 on-base percentage and an .852 slugging percentage, with 20 stolen bases in 22 attempts, playing center field and leading off for the school's baseball team. He also played for the school's football team, leading it with 30 receptions in his senior year for 650 yards and 9 touchdowns.

Pederson was selected out of Palo Alto High School by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 11th round of the 2010 Major League Baseball draft. He had committed to play at the University of Southern California but chose instead to sign with the Dodgers and was assigned to the Ogden Raptors of the Pioneer League. 

In 2011, he hit .353 while leading the Pioneer League in RBIs and outfield assists and was both a Pioneer League and Rookie League All Star. In 2012, he was named the Dodgers’ “Minor League Player of the Year.”

In 2013, Pederson was both a mid-season and post-season Southern League All-Star, and led the league in slugging percentage. He was ranked the Dodgers' # 1 prospect by Baseball America after the 2013 season. In 2014 he became the first player in the Pacific Coast League (PCL) in 80 years, and the fourth all-time, to hit 30 homers and steal 30 bases in the same season. That year Pederson led the PCL in runs, home runs, walks, on-base percentage, and OPS, while stealing 30 bases. He was named the PCL Most Valuable Player, to both the mid-season and post-season PCL All-Star teams, and was selected as Baseball America's AAA Player of the Year.

Pederson played for the Israel national baseball team in the qualifying rounds of the 2013 World Baseball Classic, the youngest player on the team.

In 2015, he was named the 8th-best prospect in baseball by Baseball America. He was called up to the Majors in 2014 and began the 2015 season as the Dodgers' starting center fielder, and the third-youngest player in the National League. Pederson was chosen to start in left field in the 2015 All-Star Game. That year he made it to the final round of the Home Run Derby.

In 2017, he set a Dodgers record with an extra-base hit and a run scored in each of his first six World Series games. Pederson also broke the record for most home runs in a World Series by a Jewish player with three, one more than Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg. Alex Bregman of the Astros tied the mark in 2019.

Pederson signed a one-year, $2.6 million contract with the Dodgers for 2018, avoiding salary arbitration. In 2019, Pederson agreed to a one-year, $5 million contract with the Dodgers.

On May 14, 2019, Pederson hit his 100th career home run against. Pederson participated in the Home Run Derby at the 2019 MLB All-Star Game and lost in the semi-finals to Vladimir Guerrero Jr. He had career bests with 36 home runs, 74 runs batted in and a .249 batting average. Pederson became expendable after the season when the Dodgers acquired one-time MVP Mookie Betts from the Boston Red Sox and he was traded to the Los Angeles Angels.

Pederson was awarded a $7.5 million salary for the 2020 season, after losing an arbitration hearing with the Dodgers. The MLB season did not start until July 24 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, the season lasted only 60 games; Pederson appeared in 43 of them. Though still used primarily as a corner outfielder, he began getting a few starts at designated hitter as the NL implemented the position for the first time that season.

In 2020, Pederson batted .190/.285/.397 with 21 runs, seven home runs, and 16 RBIs in 121 at-bats. In game 3 of the 2020 National League Championship Series, he was one of three Dodgers to hit a home run in the first inning, marking the first time that three players from the same team had homered in the first inning of a playoff game. Pederson had seven hits in 18 at-bats in that series. In game 5 of the 2020 World Series, Pederson hit the fifth home run of his World Series career, a second-inning solo shot against Tyler Glasnow that proved to be the winning margin of victory in Los Angeles’s 4–2 triumph. Max Muncy noted that “The guy performs on the huge stage. This is just what he does.” In the World Series, Pederson had four hits in 10 at-bats as the Dodgers won the championship. On Pederson’s playoff success, Dodgers starting pitcher Alex Wood quipped, “They call it ‘Joctober’ for a reason.”

Altogether, Pederson batted .382 (leading the Dodgers)/.432/.559 with a .991 OPS, two home runs, and eight RBIs in the playoffs for the Dodgers. After the World Series, he became a free agent.

On February 5, 2021, Pederson signed a one-year $7 million guaranteed contract with the Chicago Cubs which included a mutual option for the 2022 season. He was motivated to sign with the Cubs because he hoped for more playing time than he had received with the Dodgers. Due to his usual #31 being retired by the Cubs for both Greg Maddux and Fergie Jenkins, Pederson chose to sport the new number of #24 for his tenure with the team as he began the season starting in left field. He was placed on the injured list on April 22 and was struggling offensively at the time, hitting .137 with 1 HR, 4 RBIs, and 20 strikeouts. Pederson returned on May 3. Pederson played in 73 games for the Cubs, hitting .230/.300/.418 with 11 home runs and 39 RBIs in 256 at-bats.

On July 15, 2021, Pederson was traded to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for minor league prospect Bryce Ball. Atlanta had just lost superstar Ronald Acuña Jr. to a long-term ACL injury, and Pederson stepped into Acuña Jr.’s positions of right field and leadoff hitter. With #31 again being retired by the Braves for Greg Maddux and #24 having been taken already by new teammate William Contreras, Pederson chose to honor two former teammates, Clayton Kershaw and Jason Heyward from Los Angeles and Chicago respectively, by wearing #22 for his Braves tenure.

In the 2021 regular season, playing for the Braves, Pederson batted .249/.325/.428 with 7 home runs and 22 RBIs in 173 at-bats.

Throughout the 2021 post-season, Pederson donned a signature pearl necklace, culminating in fans wearing replica pearl necklaces to the team’s games. Following the Braves World Series victory, Pederson’s pearl necklace was sent to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

In the post-season, Pederson hit two pinch-hit home runs as Atlanta won the 2021 National League Division Series against the Brewers, despite starting only once in four games, making him the third player in history with two in a single postseason series. Then in Game 2 of the 2021 National League Championship Series, Pederson hit a two-run home run against three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer, as the Braves came from behind to beat the Dodgers 5–4. With 12 playoff home runs, Pederson tied Hall of Famer Yogi Berra for 24th on the all-time list. The Braves went on to win the 2021 World Series, making Pederson the ninth player in major league history to win back-to-back World Series with different teams.

On March 16, 2022, Pederson signed a one-year, $6 million contract with the San Francisco Giants, returning to the National League West, as well as the Bay Area, where he grew up.

On May 24, Pederson hit three home runs and eight RBIs as he led the Giants to a 13–12 win over the New York Mets. His eight RBIs matched the San Francisco-era Giants record also held by Willie Mays, Orlando Cepeda, and Brandon Crawford. He became the first Giants player to hit three multi-run home runs in a game since Willie Mays in 1961. He also became only the second major league player in the last century, joining Joe DiMaggio, to hit three home runs, have 8 RBIs, and have game-tying RBIs in both the eighth and ninth innings in one game. Manager Gabe Kapler said: “It was probably the best offensive performance that I’ve ever been around.”

In 2022, Pederson earned a starting spot in the All-Star game.

Pederson married Kelsey Williams in January 2018. They have one daughter. Pederson lives in Studio City, California.

Career Stats

2014 LAD NL 18 28 1 4 4 0 0 0 0 9 0 11 0 0 .143 .351 .143 .494 1.00
2015 LAD NL 151 480 67 101 200 19 1 26 54 92 6 170 4 7 .210 .346 .417 .763 0.95
2016 LAD NL 137 406 64 100 201 26 0 25 68 63 4 130 6 2 .246 .352 .495 .847 0.90
2017 LAD NL 102 273 44 58 111 20 0 11 35 39 1 68 4 3 .212 .331 .407 .738 1.18
2018 LAD NL 148 395 65 98 206 27 3 25 56 40 3 85 1 5 .248 .321 .522 .843 0.89
2019 LAD NL 149 450 83 112 242 16 3 36 74 50 2 111 1 1 .249 .339 .538 .877 0.92
2020 LAD NL 43 121 21 23 48 4 0 7 16 11 0 34 1 0 .190 .285 .397 .682 1.46
2021 CHI/ATL - 137 429 55 102 181 19 3 18 61 39 0 117 2 3 .238 .310 .422 .732 0.81
2022 SF NL 75 223 35 57 118 10 0 17 41 23 3 55 3 2 .256 .332 .529 .861 0.84
MLB Career - - 960 2805 435 655 1311 141 10 165 405 366 19 781 22 23 .234 .332 .467 .799 0.94

Sources: Wikipedia;
Mark Brodskly, “Dodgers Jewish slugger Joc Pederson being traded to the Los Angeles Angels,” JTA, (February 5, 2020).

Photo: TonyTheTiger - This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.