Thirty-two players have worn number 31 for the Dodgers. If we take out that one bloke that wore #31 in one game as a pinch-runner back in the 1930s, then we have thirty-one players that have worn #31. Kinda cool, right?
The number has been worn by one of the worst hitters in all of baseball. It has also been worn by one of the best hitting catchers of all time. 31 is a storied number and the burden is on young Joc Pederson to wear it proud.
The last thing the young center fielder needs is some no-name blogger lamenting his debut; because he definitely reads this. In fact, the purpose of this post is to remind Dodger fans that Pederson has only played twenty-one major league games. It is way too early to call him a bust.
Looking at Mike Piazza’s first twenty-one major league games, Piazza slashed .232/.284/.319, posted a .279 wOBA and 76 wRC+. This means absolutely nothing because small sample size and stuff. But people care about these things, so we’ll have some fun and look at Joc’s first twenty-one games. In Pederson’s first twenty-one games, he is slashing .157/.346/.157, has a .294 wOBA and 96 wRC+.
I’m not trying to say that Pederson is better than Mike Piazza; the guy is our namesake for crying out loud. The two points I want to make are: 1) If the feeling is that Pederson is a bust after twenty-one major-league games, then look at the player that made #31 a historic number for Dodger fans. You will find that even in Piazza’s first twenty or so games, he did even worse than Pederson. And, 2) Twenty-one games is simply not a large enough sample of outings to judge a player’s worth. Mike Piazza’s rookie season took place after his first twenty-one games and I think he won some sort of good rookie award.
Joc Pederson has a lot to prove, but he is not going to prove his worth after the first three major league starts of his career. If he has the long career that Mike Piazza had, then he will have plenty of time to show us what he is capable of doing.