Dodgers’ Center Field Debate is OVER

So many pundits, and a lot of fans, looked at how bad Joc Pederson hit the last two months of last season, and totally discounted the great hitting he did in the first half of the season, his tremendous defense that never wavered despite his offensive problems, his

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great team spirit and dedication, and the fact that a year ago he was universally considered one of the top three or four prospects in all of baseball.

Compounding the problem was the Dodgers’ three way trade of the off season, bringing to the team second tier prospect Trayce Thompson, the son of local radio broadcaster and former LA Laker, Mychal Thompson, whose legion of friends in the broadcasting
world led a winter and spring campaign to dump Pederson and install Thompson junior as the team’s center fielder. Their constant and deceitful rhetoric ignored the facts that Thompson himself, after a fast start at the plate upon his call-up by the Chicago White Sox last season, had an awful time at the plate over the last weeks of the season, and that he has nowhere the talent that Pederson possesses. They continually praised his defense, saying he was just as good as Pederson, but if you saw yesterday’s game against the Blue Jays, you saw the real Trayce Thompson display just how bad an outfielder he is, first with a really bad error in right field, and them with a terrible mis-play after moving to left field. He has looked not at all like a great outfielder and in in fact, not even as good as an average major league caliber outfielder.

Granted, he has hit pretty well so far this season, but as so many “experts” claim, poor

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minor league hitting stats portray less than outstanding hitting abilities and major league projections, and with his years of poor hitting throughout all levels of the minor leagues, there is a very good likelihood that his stats will drop the more he plays.

Then there is Pederson’s resurgence so far this year. He has been hitting consistently in the .270s most of the season, and his six home
runs not only leads the Dodgers, but is double the total of any other player on the team. His 14 RBI is also tied for second on the team. And, he continues to hit more monster home runs than any other left hand hitter in baseball.

So, Dave Roberts and radio and TV pundits, it’s time to keep Pederson in center field against all comers, and forget the Thompson platoon experiment.

And speaking of center field, this past weekend’s series against Toronto gave LA fans a glimpse of one of the other really great center fielders in the game, the Blue Jays’ Kevin Pillar, who continually dazzles with one great catch after another, and whose hitting has

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improved day by day since being installed as an everyday player. Now hitting .301 for the season after last year’s .278, the West Hills native and Cal State grad has shown himself to be a clutch hitter that you want at bat in key spots.

What is interesting is that while there are very few Jewish players in major league baseball (current count is nine total), Peterson and Pillar, two of the very best
defensive center fielders in the game, and potentially two of the very best overall center fielders, are both not just Californians, but both are Jewish. The Dodgers had not had a Jewish player since Shawn Green starred in Los Angeles more than a decade ago. Interestingly enough – where did Green play before LA? Why Toronto, of course, where Pillar is now starring.

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