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Alex Dickerson let out some shaft in San Francisco

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Dick! Dick! Dick! Dick! Dick! Dick!

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Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The Line

.290/.351/.529, 13 2B, 3 3B, 6 HR, 26 RBI, 131 OPS+, 1 rWAR

When the San Francisco Giants hired Farhan Zaidi in late 2018, you could be forgiven for getting excited. After all, he was one of the masterminds behind the Los Angeles Dodgers’ surge to the top (IN THE REGULAR SEASON), a task he accomplished through a mix of high-profile trades and under-the-radar signings. Surely, he would do the same for the Giants in a fraction of the time!

But on June 10, when the team acquired Alex Dickerson from the San Diego Padres for minor league reliever Franklin Van Gurp, Giants’ fans were starting to lose patience.

What the fans saw was an inconsequential trade for an oft-injured 29-year-old career minor leaguer who batted .158/.158/.158 in 19 at-bats for the Padres. Little did they know how big Dickerson would be.

Role on the 2019 team

To be fair, the fans weren’t completely off in their assessments. At 29 years old, Dickerson is no spring chicken (you know, in baseball terms), and in limited opportunities with the Padres this season, this ol’ cock failed to crow.

But what the fans didn’t see was the potential waiting to be unloaded. In 557 games across the minors, Dickerson put up a line of .311/.371/.502, good for an OPS of .873. He could hit for average and power, and he showed superb plate discipline—exactly the type of player Zaidi was stockpiling in the farm and on the roster.

Of course, as anyone in the Mac Williamson fan club knows, great minor league stats don’t always translate to good or average or even slightly below-average MLB careers. (Fun fact: Williamson put up eerily similar numbers in the minors, recording a line of .281/.360/.490 in 542 games.)

So, much like a date you meet on Tinder, Dickerson was an enigma. Would he prove to be the brawny corner outfielder advertised in his profile pictures? Would there be chemistry? Is that dog in that one photo even actually his? And when the time came to perform, would he wilt under pressure, or would he rise to the occasion?

Well, let’s see how the first date went…

For the months of June and July, Dickerson wasn’t just one of the best hitters on the Giants. He was one of the best hitters in the entire league, recording a 212 wRC+ across two months of play. That was better than Mike Trout (191), Christian Yelich (185), and Yordan Alvarez (184) in the same time frame.

It was Bonds-like. It was unbelievable. And it was so much fun to watch.

We’re talking small samples here—Dickerson stroked his way to the top over just 98 plate appearances and predominantly against right-handed pitching, while Trout managed to accomplish his feat in 227 plate appearances—but it was enough to get a bunch of grown men shouting for that Dick.

Role on the 2020 team

Back in July, one of the greatest sportswriters of our time suggested that the Giants should consider selling high on Dickerson. They did not. Maybe the Giants were high on the faint whiffs of playoff hopes. Maybe the offers weren’t there. Either way, the Giants rode Dickerson hard, hoping he’d help thrust them into October.

But then, the Dick broke.

He missed the first half of August with a right oblique strain. He missed another chunk of games in September, only starting a handful of contests after that. With the injuries came a downturn in performance. In his first 30 games as a Giant, he hit six home runs, including four at Oracle Park. In his remaining 26 games, he hit zero.

It was hardly the happy ending we were hoping for. There’s no doubt he’ll be around next season—his huge numbers make him impossible to ignore, even as a platoon bat—but he’ll enter 2020 the same way he entered 2019: an enigma. Is he the brawny corner outfielder we watched for the first two months, or the injury-prone impotent slugger we watched for the last two months? And when next season comes, will he wilt under pressure, or will he rise to the occasion?

Grade

Dickerson’s 2019 was the Boogie Nights of seasons: impossibly fun at the beginning, then a dark turn into despondent misery. But even with the fall in production at the end, the fact stands that Zaidi got the Giants a Dirk Diggler on the cheap. We’ll see if he can repeat his performance next season, but at least he gave us plenty of action in his limited time this year.