On-base percentage is super important. It may be the most important single stat for batters. But there are limits to what a good OBP can do for you.
Take Dodgers rookie center fielder Joc Pederson. His OBP is a healthy .357 and in the month of August it’s a fantastic .413. But that’s almost all on walks. He’s walked 20 times in the month of August and has only two hits and 17 strikeouts in 41 at bats. His line for the month: .122/.413/.293. That’s profoundly weird — he’s walking more now and striking out less than he had been –but it’s not terribly useful, especially given the power expectations he set earlier in the season. He has only three home runs since the All-Star break. An All-Star break during which he appeared in the Home Run Derby.
Yesterday Don Mattingly benched Pederson, saying that Kiké Hernandez gives the team a better chance to win. Hernandez, for his part, is raking at the moment, hitting .327/.389/.551 this month, primarily filling in for Howie Kendrick at second base. With Chase Utley coming over to Los Angeles and with Kendrick due back eventually, Mattingly no doubt doesn’t want to lose Hernandez’s bat.
Just a weird year for Pederson. Say what you want about the tenets of becoming the second coming of a post-decline Adam Dunn, but at least it’s an ethos. Just not one helping a team with pretensions of hanging on to its lead in the NL West.