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2017 Season Preview: Corey Dickerson

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Corey Dickerson brought his big swinging ways to the Trop in his Rays debut.

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Toronto Blue Jays Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Last January the Rays acquired Corey Dickerson from the Colorado Rockies to add left- handed power to the lineup. At first glance Dickerson’s .245/.293/.469 line looks disappointing, but his power made him good for a 101 wRC+ even with a sub .300 on base percentage.

Dickerson’s overall line was expected to decline after his departure from Coors Field, the most hitter friendly baseball stadium. However he kept hitting for power as his .224 ISO is not very far off his career .231 ISO. With his 63 extra base hits (36 doubles, 3 triples, and 24 homers) he joined Evan Longoria (81) and Brad Miller (65) as the only Rays hitters to surpass 60 extra base hits on the season.

A free swinger that doesn’t walk a lot, his on base percentage will never be great. His .285 BABIP is where he saw the biggest effect of leaving Coors Field. In 2014 and 2015 he posted BABIPs of .356 and .367 respectively. Those aren’t all that unusual as the average BABIP at Coors has hovered around .350. However, the lower BABIP wasn’t all ballpark effect: his line drive rate plummeted to 17.5% after never falling below 26.0% during his Rockies tenure.

Dickerson dealt with a lingering thumb injury that caused him to miss a few games in late June, but never forced him to the disabled list. In a post-game interview late in the season Dickerson said he felt good about his production and the line would look completely different if just 5-10 singles fell in

Defense

Defensively Dickerson had a fantastic season that saw him put up +6.1 UZR (+14.5 UZR/150) and +2 DRS in 599 innings in left field. That was a complete reversal of his time with the Rockies where he posted a combined -12.0 UZR (-11.1 UZR/150) and -9 DRS in 1,455.1 innings in left field.

Some of the change could be attributed to moving to a more cozy stadium than Coors where his weak throwing arm is exposed less often.

He’s very likely not an elite +15 defender in left field; his true talent probably lies somewhere in the middle.

Designated Hitter

Once the Rays reported deal with Colby Rasmus is finalized, Dickerson’s primary role would appear to be as the designated hitter in 2017.

Like most hitters, Dickerson’s production dropped when he was not playing the field. As the DH in 2016 he hit .216/.263/.459 which was good for a 89 wRC+. The power was great as he brought a .242 ISO to the position with 13 homers in 247 plate appearances, but his OBP was awful as his .234 BABIP limited his batting average from helping out.

In 280 plate appearances while playing left field Dickerson hit .275/.326/.492 which was good for a 118 wRC+. His ISO dropped .025 points, but he made up for it with a gain of .063 OBP. Most of this can be attributed to a 21.8% line drive rate compared to 12.3% line drive rate as a designated hitter.

Dickerson’s line as a DH was dragged down by his production against LHP. As a DH against LHP he hit .176/.222/.196 and 14 wRC+ over 54 plate appearances. No average and no power isn’t a good combination.

Interestingly, he did well against LHP when playing left field. He hit .302/.327/.434 and 109 wRC+. He still hit for below average power, but he ran a .424 BABIP. In general, however, his PAs against lefties have been limited so these all represent a relatively small sample, with some regression likely moving forward.

In 193 plate appearances as a DH against RHP he hit .228/.275/.533 with his .303 ISO leading to a 111 wRC+. In 225 plate appearances as a LF against RHP he hit .268/.326/.507 and 120 wRC+ which came with a more palatable OBP. The drop from a 120 wRC+ to 111 wRC+ is a much more reasonable drop off that should be expected when accounting for the DH penalty.

2017 Expectations

Dickerson’s batting average should see some minor rebound if he hits a few more line drives. This will help his on base percentage although OBP will never be a strength.

It’s crazy to say that a guy that posted an ISO well above .200 has unlocked power upside, but it’s true. His 20.6% pulled fly ball rate ranked 133 out of 185 batters with at least 100 fly balls. It was an improvement on his 2015 rate of 13.0%, but in 2013 and 2014 he posted 25.0% and 26.0% rates respectively.

Corey Dickerson should continue to bring power to the lineup against right handed pitchers. As long as he his shielded from most lefties he should be a productive designated hitter for the Rays in 2017.