Joc Pederson drove up to his final media gathering of the 2014 season in his beat-up old 1994 Buick Century. The Albuquerque Isotopes are giving away his car in a promotion for the final weekend of games.
Pederson did his best to keep a straight face in telling the story of the car and why he and the team are giving it away. It all provided a nice moment of levity before Thursday's series opener against the Las Vegas 51s.
"It's been awesome the whole year," Pederson said of "Little Chucky," which was named for catcher Griff Erickson's father, who helped him purchase it in April. "It's taken me all over Albuquerque. It definitely was a good buy. I guess someone is going to get a lucky car."
All joking aside, Pederson is nearing the end of arguably the best individual season by an Isotopes player in the franchise's 12-year history. He was named Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year in a poll of Pacific Coast League managers and media representatives earlier this week.
"It's a pretty humbling award that I got to win," Pederson said of being PCL MVP. "I mean it's exciting, I've never won a player of the year award. It's my first, I feel good about it. It's kind of a relief for all the hard work I've put in. It's a nice cap at the end of the season."
Pederson has hit .304/.434/.590 this season. He has 101 runs scored, 76 RBI, 96 walks and his combination of 33 home runs and 30 stolen bases made him the first 30-30 in the PCL since Frank Demaree accomplished the feat in 1934.
"I realized how many years 80 really is, how it's the only one in the modern era, it's crazy," Pederson said. "I guess it's a huge accomplishment and I'm humbled to be able to do something like that during the year."
Those last two stolen bases were far from easy to swipe, Pederson said. Other teams were definitely trying to keep him from the record.
"It was definitely a big relief," Pederson said. "There was a lot of built-up pressure on that. They definitely made it harder than it had to be for the last couple games. They were picking over quite a bit in situations that didn't account for it. But I'm glad I got it and it's worth it."
Pederson's great play came despite the Isotopes' struggles as a team. Albuquerque (59-78) will finish with the worst record in franchise history this year, having passed the previous worst loss total (77) set back in 2004.
"The Isotopes, we didn't win as many games as we would like to have," Pederson said. "We played hard throughout the year, so that's all you can ask for."
After the Triple-A season ends Monday afternoon, Pederson is expected to be called up by the Dodgers. He is not on the 40-man roster, but the team can make room by moving right-hander Stephen Fife to the 60-day disabled list as he is out for the season after Tommy John surgery.
For most organizations, players never get close to 30-30 at Triple-A because they get promoted long before they have that opportunity. The Dodgers, however, are saddled with three veteran outfielders — Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp — who all have long-term contracts and have Pederson blocked for the time being.
"It's been a dream come true and it's a been a longer path than I would have liked," Pederson said of his impending September call-up. "I guess it's still on a fast track. That's the way things go. It was a huge learning lesson that when you want stuff to happen it doesn't always happen. You've got to grow up. It's 100 percent out of my control."
Pederson will bat second and start in left field for the Isotopes on Thursday. The game starts at 6:35 p.m., followed by a 7 p.m. start Friday, a 6 p.m. start Sunday and a 1:35 p.m. start for the finale Monday.