There is considerable discussion about the Blue Jays extending Ray or Semien … or Matz. But might there be a fourth extension candidate who also makes considerable sense?
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With every start, Robbie Ray is strengthening his Cy Young case. Marcus Semien’s 5.4 fWAR is the best in baseball. And Steven Matz’ 2.16 ERA since the all-star game is 20th best among starters. They would all make excellent extension candidates for a 2022 Blue Jays team that should be a legitimate World Series contender. But might there be a fourth candidate? One more under-the-radar, but potentially filling a major need?
Let’s talk about Corey Dickerson.
C-Dizzle is a career 114 wRC+ hitter, though he had a 127 wRC+ in 2019 in 78 games. He is an above-average left fielder, again with one outlier uber-year (2018) when his +15 Defensive Runs Saved was 6th among MLB outfielders and his +10 Outs Above Average was tops among left fielders, winning him a gold glove. Like the little girl with the curl, when he has been good he has been very good indeed.
Since coming to the Blue Jays (insert small sample size caveat here) Dickerson has excelled, with a 126 wRC+ and a +2 OAA in only 118 attempts (for context, that would translate to +7 over 400 attempts [an “OAA/400”], which would have led the majors among left fielders in 2019). And he has introduced a much-needed left handed bat into a largely right-handed hitting Jays batting order.
At his age, Dickerson might not be an everyday player. But that might not be a bad thing. Over his career, he has hit right-handed pitching at a 287/.333/.515 rate and a 122 wRC+ (his .515 slugging over that period against RHP is 12th best in baseball). And while he is below average against left-handed pitching (with a .267/.306/.406 line and an 89 wRC+) he could still be used against a lefty in a pinch.
So what do we have here? A veteran (Dizzle will play 2022 at age 33) *left handed* bat, with a history of above-average performance at the plate and in the field. An above-average runner, with exceptionally strong performance against right-handed pitching (roughly 70% of MLB pitchers are righties), making him a solid or better pinch running or pinch hitting option off the bench when he is not starting, and a good-to-excellent late game defensive replacement. He should be relatively cheap, both in terms of years and dollars. And the man under the uniform is pretty impressive too – founding an autism initiative in 2019.
The issue with extending Dickerson is the logjam that the Jays might have in the outfield, with Springer, Hernandez, Gurriel Jr., and Grichuk already competing for innings. Someone would have to move, either to another position or to another team. Lourdes might be a strong candidate – he is struggling in the outfield (his OAA of -9 so far in 2021 is dead last among 238 MLB outfielders) but he clearly has talent (and a cannon arm!). His major issue is with his routes. Might he make a strong third baseman?
The bottom line
It is always exciting when your team signs a super-duper-star player who can singlehandedly carry the team to glory. But often the smaller improvements – adding a win here, a win there – have a cumulative effect greater than the single uberstar. Dickerson might well be a piece – small, but important – in a championship puzzle.
*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.
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A Jays fan since pre-Series, Jim’s biggest baseball regret is that he did not play hooky with his buddies on 7 Apr 77. But hearing “Fanfare For The Common Man” played from a rooftop on 24 Oct 92 helped him atone.