The Tampa Bay Rays capped a 17-13 month of May with another dramatic come from behind extra inning victory Wednesday night, beating the Texas Rangers 7-5. Much of that success comes courtesy of OF/DH Corey Dickerson.
Called a beast by some — and a “big giant freak” by others — Dickerson finds himself in the top five in batting average, hits, multi-hit games and OPS, and shows no signs of slowing down. Suffice it to say, his All-Star worthy production is part and parcel for the Rays’ overall success thus far.
Dickerson was acquired prior to the start of the 2016 season season because of his raw ability to hit the ball. Even though he posted numbers that were somewhat disappointing in his first campaign with Tampa Bay, his fierce determination to atone for his lack of production has made him the best hitter on the team and in the league, placing him just behind Bryce Harper in wRC+ (168).
Dickerson’s made the most of his prodigious skills this season, slashing .341 BA/.384 OBP/.607 SLG//.991 OPS/.415 wOBA over 230 plate appearances, with a league leading 73 hits and 31 extra base hits (17 doubles, 2 triples, 12 homers), and 40 runs scored. What’s even more impressive, he’s doing almost all of his damage from the leadoff spot, including an MLB matching five leadoff homers.
Compare that to last season when his slashed .245 BA/.293 OBP/.469 SLG/.762 OPS/.319 wOBA with 125 hits, 63 extra base hits, and 57 runs scored over 548 plate appearances. He has increased his production in under half the number of plate appearances.
His .394 BABIP suggests a there is measured amount of luck in play. Although when you compare that figure to his career .334 BABIP — which includes his career worst .285 BABIP season last year — measured becomes the operative word. That is, the bulk of his production might not go anywhere, even when/if he cools down. That should impose fear in opposing pitchers.
Not only does Dickerson crush baseballs, but something Jeff Sullivan (FanGraphs) noted is his highly unusual, Guerrero-esque, ability to put junk pitches into play.
Corey Dickerson gives new meaning to ‘ground rule double’ pic.twitter.com/5KhYJG8SZm
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) May 31, 2017
Since 2013, Dickerson is tied for the MLB lead in number of hits off pitches less than one foot off the ground. He also is tied for second place in number of hits off pitches more than four feet off the ground.
Moreover, he’s hitting pitches both inside and outside of the zone. According to Sullivan, Dickerson’s contact-rate difference comes out to 7.6 percentage points. The average difference is 24.6 percentage points. Dickerson is tied for the very lowest difference in the sample, with Pablo Sandoval. And that, in this way, makes for a fitting comparison. Dickerson hits kind of like peak Sandoval did, and the situation in 2017 is even more extreme. This year, so far, Dickerson has made 75% in-zone contact, and 74% out-of-zone contact. Dickerson hasn’t actually excelled when he’s put bad pitches into play, but he’s made himself tough to attack, and challenging to put away.
In short, Dickerson covers the plate (rather, plate area) well, and will put a pitch in play regardless if it’s a strike.
Being a member of a small-market ball club is a blessing and a curse. On one hand, the media pressure is much lower which allows players to grow and evolve in relative peace. However, the crux of it is that players like Dickerson largely go unnoticed, and leaving them overshadowed by the Aaron Judges of the world.
Sadly Dickerson is running a distant fourth in All-Star voting behind bigger named players, like Edwin Encarnacion or Nelson Cruz, who haven’t been as productive as the Rays’ OF/DH.
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) May 31, 2017
Corey is a force of nature, and deserves your vote to represent the Rays in the All-Star Game.