Matt Kemp Is A Padre. Joc Pederson Is Here To Stay. Get Over It!

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There was an interesting exchange I witnessed on twitter following last night’s game. Following Matt Kemp’s fifth double in the bottom of the 8th, the question that came to mind was, “Was trading Kemp to San Diego worth it for the Dodgers?” There will be fans that will never get over the trade, and that’s okay. We lament the Piazza Trade every day. Given the feelings some fans have toward the trade, can the numbers between Joc Pederson and Matt Kemp provide some solace?

The theme underlying most analytical blog posts has been small sample size, because we are only 17 games into the season. The two players that will be examined in this post have only had a combined 131 plate appearances this season – Matt Kemp at 74, Joc Pederson at 57. Seeing as how this post was inspired by Kemp’s double, we will begin by looking at their counting stats.

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Player H RBI BB SO
Kemp 25 14 4 12
Pederson 13 7 13 20

Of those 25 hits, five have been doubles for Kemp. Pederson has four doubles in 13 hits. There really is not much to do with these stats other than wonder if Pederson’s numbers would match if he had seventeen more plate appearances. Unfortunately, it’s rather silly to be looking at these kind of numbers, even with more data. With that, let’s take a look at the numbers that matter.

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Player AVG/OBP/SLG wOBA wRC+ BABIP
Kemp .333/.365/.493 .372 144 .379
Kemp (ZiPS) .277/.338/.440 .340 122 .344
Pederson .295/.446/.523 .411 169 .478
Pederson (ZiPS) .242/.335/.426 .337 118 .321

Upon looking at the slash lines, it seems as if Pederson is getting on base and hitting for extra bases at a better rate than Kemp is. However, according to ZiPS ROS (rest of season) projections, it appears as if Matt Kemp will outshine Joc Pederson at every point on the slash line. But you are not the average Dodgers fan. No no! You are an enlightened Dodgers fan, one that is already saying, “This post sucks.” Or instead, you are telling yourself, “Slash lines are nice, but gimme that wOBA dammit.” Currently, Kemp’s wOBA and wRC+ are .372 and 144, respectively, with a .379 BABIP. According to ZiPS ROS, at the end of 162 games, Kemp will regress back to his career normals and will finish the season with a .340 wOBA and 122 wRC+. Pederson is on fire at the moment with a .411 wOBA and 169 (NIIIIICE!) wRC+. Unfortunately for young Joc, his stats are unsustainable as his BABIP is at an absurd .478! ZiPS ROS has Joc finishing the season with a .337 wOBA and 118 wRC+.

Right now, Pederson is definitely on pace with Matt Kemp. In fact, looking at his stats, it appears as though Pederson is outshining Kemp. Of course, it is silly to expect that level of production to continue. As an enlightened baseball fan, we do not like to discuss those nasty intangibles Rick Monday talks about. However, when talking about Joc Pederson, maturity is an intangible that must be taken into consideration. Although ZiPS has Pederson finishing the season at a production level slightly under Kemp, the truth is that ZiPS does not take into account how the Dodgers young center fielder will react to natural regression. In other words, it is possible that a prolonged slump could get into the head of Pederson and put a damper on his rookie season.

Matt Kemp’s value cannot be ignored. When healthy, he is a player that can bolster any lineup. However, Joc Pederson’s upside also could not be denied; he is proving that so far. Seventeen games is far too early to make any conclusion on the trade, but the immediate impact Pederson has had on the Dodgers does provide some value. Despite being unable to factor maturtity, the projections for the rest of the season should provide some comfort for Dodger fans that have questioned the trade. If Pederson is able to maintain a level head when his bat cools down, then Dodger fans have a potential star to root for in center field for years to come.

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