Another trade deadline….another acquisition by a contending team of veteran outfielder Corey Dickerson. Blue Jays front office targeted him as a left-handed bench contributor.
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It is not a left-handed compliment to say Corey Dickerson was simply being Corey Dickerson this weekend. On Friday he pinch hit successfully when called upon by manager Charlie Montoyo in a moment when a left-handed hitter was needed. Saturday saw Dickerson step into the outfield after George Springer hurt his left ankle after running into the outfield wall. Then in the series finale, Dickerson started in left field, went 2 for 4 with an RBI and scoring 3 runs. Most importantly, he had two extended at bats of 9 pitches that ran up pitch counts and hastened the departure of Mariner starter Logan Gilbert in a much-needed 8-3 win in Seattle.
These performances are precisely what Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins envisioned when he added Dickerson and righty reliever Adam Cimber from the Miami Marlins in June. Cimber’s contributions began immediately and he has brought a sense of stability sorely needed in a struggling bullpen. In typical 2021 Blue Jays fashion, Dickerson arrived with a foot in a boot and required an extended stay on the Injured List. But since his activation on August 2nd, Dickerson has come off the bench and turned the occasional start into a .303/.342/.515 slash line with a homer, 5 RBI and 5 runs scored.
This should not come as a surprise to the astute baseball fan. An All-Star for Tampa Bay in 2017 and a Gold Glove winner in Pittsburgh in 2018, Dickerson has been a consistent and reliable left-handed bat for 9 MLB seasons. Dickerson’s 162 game average, according to StatHead is as follows:
|HR 22||RBI 73||SB 5||AVG .286 OBP .326 SLG .490 OPS .816|
Another snapshot Blue Jays fans should look at is of his performances AFTER his being traded to a contending Philadelphia Phillies at the deadline in 2019:
117 PLATE APPEARANCES: HR 8 RBI 34 AVG .293 OBP .307 SLG .579 OPS .713
During a surprise 60-game playoff run with Miami in 2020, Dickerson clubbed 7 HR 17 RBI while putting up a .258/.311/.402/.713 slash line. Not as flashy as in previous years, but a comparison can be drawn between his role with a young Marlins team and his new place on the 2021 Blue Jays roster. Splitting his at bats between starts (especially against tough righties) and pinch-hitting, Dickerson brought a professional approach to at bats and an experienced veteran presence that complimented a youthful, sometimes erratic lineup.
Charlie Montoyo has finally been given a reliable, dangerous left-handed bat to use at critical junctures of the stretch run. With a heavily right-handed lineup, Dickerson will provide a productive lefty weapon for Montoyo to write onto a lineup card against the tougher righty starters. When called upon for the occasional start, Dickerson can field his position and he possesses an accurate throwing arm. With Springer sidelined for at least the next series or two, Dickerson can offset the production loss while working extended counts through plate discipline and calm demeanor. But Dickerson’s value might be highest when coming off the bench at critical points in games. Opposing managers will now need to alter their in game approach to bullpen usage-knowing Dickerson is just a few steps away from the bat rack.
There were some big name hitters that changed uniforms at the trade deadline. But given the needs Dickerson has filled and an impressive track record of performance, no deadline acquisition may prove to be more valuable to their team’s post-season chances than Corey Dickerson.
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