Despite only being on the team a few months, Joc Pederson has quickly become the Braves’ heart and soul, the locker-room glue that helped Atlanta overcome a pedestrian first half (44-45) in capturing its first title in over a quarter-century. After a muted World Series celebration with COVID in full effect last fall, the former Dodger got his money’s worth this year, channeling Red Auerbach with a victory cigar and a glass of red.
Who knows if Pederson, a free agent for the second time in as many years, will be back with the Braves in 2022. But if that’s a series wrap on Pederson in Atlanta, the 29-year-old certainly did his job, emerging as a central figure in the Braves’ stunning late-season resurgence.
Pederson could, depending on how the offseason shakes out, turn out to be a mere rental, but boy did he make his mark, even getting fellow pearl enthusiast Harry Styles to buy into the Braves as title contenders. The former One Direction front-man was in town for his “Love On” Tour last week when he predicted the Braves would be the final team standing, outlasting Houston as World Series Champions. Word quickly spread of Styles’ endorsement, prompting Pederson to deliver the following message, courtesy of ESPN's Jeff Passan:
Pederson didn’t exactly light up the stat sheet this postseason—he hit a sluggish .205 with three homers, nine RBI and 12 strikeouts in 44 at-bats. But he made “Joctober” a memorable experience for all involved, including one of the world’s biggest pop stars.