Wednesday night Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson homered for the fifth consecutive game, adding to what has been an incredible start for the 23-year-old rookie.
Five straight games with a home run ties the Dodgers’ franchise record, which Pederson now shares with Adrian Gonzalez, Matt Kemp, Shawn Green, and Roy Campanella.
And not only does Pederson have 17 homers in 53 games, his home runs have traveled an average of 428 feet to lead all of baseball. He’s crushing pitches.
In addition to the spectacular power Pederson has also shown incredible patience at the plate, drawing 35 walks in 53 games. He’s hitting a modest .267, but all the power and patience combine to give him a lofty .393 on-base percentage and .606 slugging percentage.
Here’s a list of the highest OPS totals by a 23-year-old center fielder in MLB history:
Willie Mays 1954 1.078
Mickey Mantle 1955 1.042
Ken Griffey Jr. 1993 1.025
Al Simmons 1925 1.018
Ty Cobb 1910 1.008
JOC PEDERSON 2015 .999
Pederson has only played one-third of a season, but even with that caveat being on a list like that where the five guys ahead of him are all Hall of Famers (or soon to be Hall of Famers) is remarkable.
He’s currently out-hitting the other 23-year-old center fielder for a California team, reigning MVP Mike Trout, who has a measly* .932 OPS for the Angels this season.
* Note: .932 is a really, really good OPS.
Nothing went right for the Blue Jays this weekend. The club was swept in a four-game series against the Athletics, including a 9-2 loss on Sunday. Not wanting to burn out his bullpen in a lopsided game — and perhaps thinking about the general entertainment value involved — Blue Jays manager John Gibbons decided to send designated hitter Kendrys Morales out to pitch the ninth inning. And in typical baseball fashion, he saw better results than some of the dudes who do this all the time.
Morales, who actually pitched in Cuba nearly 20 years ago, worked around a walk for a scoreless inning. He induced three fly outs and topped out at 87.4 mph on his fastball, per Brooks Baseball. He received a standing ovation on the way back to the dugout. Morales hasn’t been hearing that sort of thing for his contributions with the bat recently.
Morales, 34, is batting just .163/.248/.279 with three home runs through 32 games this season. There’s been some understandable clamoring for top prospect Vladmir Guerrero, Jr. to cut into his at-bats. For his part, Morales has been doing everything he can to break out of his slumber at the plate, including ditching the glasses he started wearing during spring training. Hey, whatever works. Morales also had two of Toronto’s four hits on Sunday.
On the heels of Morales’ first MLB appearance on the mound, it feels rather appropriate that the Blue Jays will get their first look at Angels sensation Shohei Ohtani — at least as a hitter — beginning on Tuesday.