Alex Dickerson wasn’t even supposed to be here today. Dickerson was only in the lineup because Steven Duggar has been experiencing lower back tightness, and it’s not like Dickerson was tearing up the PCL as a River Cat. He was 3-for-17 in Sacramento without any extra-base hits, so he wasn’t forcing the Giants to bring him up. The Giants could have brought up Mike Gerber who has a 1.003 OPS since his last stint in the majors. Austin Slater and Chris Shaw have also hit well in Triple-A. But the Giants chose wisely.
Dickerson singled in his first Giants at-bat which would have been good enough. Positive outcomes at the plate are hard to come by for Giants outfielders. But in his second at-bat, Dickerson did something that prompted myriad Giants fans to go to Google and ask, “Ok fine who is alex dickerson.”
On a 2-1 changeup, Dickerson hit the farthest home run by a Giant this year and the second grand slam of the season.
Statcast tracked Dickerson’s slam at 110.9 mph and 458 feet. The next farthest home run came from Pablo Sandoval off Zack Wheeler at 438. It’d be one thing if he hit a wall-scraper or just a regular ole dinger that goes 10 rows up the bleachers. Dickerson did some very NSFW things to that baseball, and that’s a great way to get your new team and its fans to fear, respect, and love you.
This is just the third time a Giant, New York or San Francisco, has hit a grand slam in their Giants debut. Bobby Bonds was the first to do it, and the other was also in the starting lineup. That would be Brandon Crawford. If the pattern holds, Dickerson or his son (Dickersonson?) will help to usher in a Golden Age of Giants baseball. Records will be broken, titles will be won, locks will flow.
With the grand slam, Dickerson had already wormed his way into our hearts, but Dickerson wasn’t done! Dickerson tripled in two more runs in the seventh to bring him a double-shy of the cycle. The triple was impressive, but what really cemented Alex Dickerson into instant, unironic #ForeverGiant status is the dugout’s reaction.
DICK! DICK! DICK! DICK! DICK! pic.twitter.com/MH4uIyI2Ul— Kenny Kelly (@KennyKellyWords) June 22, 2019
This team is good actually?
Dickerson got one more chance to get his double for the cycle, but he struck out in the ninth inning. Had he pulled it off, Dickerson would have been the first Giant to do it since Pablo Sandoval did it in 2011. I don’t know how to look up how many players have hit for the cycle in their first game with their team, but I’m guessing it’s somewhere between zero and two.
After hitting a home run in the second inning, Kevin Pillar pulled into a tie for the team lead in homers with 9. That home run brought his wRC+ to 67 and his slash line to .237/.261/.395. A team leader in home runs is slugging under .400 and is roughly 30 percent worse than league average. I know the Giants are bad, but this still doesn’t make any sense.
Pillar has been paradoxically feast or famine this year. He hasn’t gotten a lot of hits, but they’ve been well-timed. He’s leading the team in RBI, but he’s the worst on the team in FanGraphs’ clutch stat which measures how a player does in high leverage situations compared to how he normally performs. He’s getting big hits, but not when they matter.
Part of why Pillar has been so bad is because he’s the worst in the majors at drawing walks. Before play today, Pillar’s walk rate of 2.5 percent just barely edged out Tim Anderson. Taylor Clarke’s command in the third was so bad that even Pillar could get a free pass.
Judging from this, a pitcher must throw Pillar at least six balls before he either puts the ball in play or goes down on strikes rather than the typical four. I was actually impressed that Pillar took the fifth pitch, a 3-1 curveball. Pillar doesn’t take close pitches like that often. It was an important walk because that set-up Alex Dickerson’s grand slam. Maybe if Pillar swung at the curveball, he would have put it in play and ended the inning making the grand slam impossible, and that was an important play
Jeff Samardzija didn’t have his best stuff and looked poised to waste the grand slam. In the fourth inning, he got knocked around for four runs, and he only made it out of the inning with a replay review going the Giants’ way. It sure looked like Joe Panik missed the tag on Adam Jones, but I guess the camera angles were inconclusive.
Pillar added two more RBI in the seventh with a single the other way. This will forever be the Alex Dickerson game, but we should recognize that Kevin Pillar had a really nice game. He reached base three times, and drove in four runs. Without Pillar, there’s a very good chance the Giants lose this game.
If I may take a second to bemoan the misfortunes of the opposing team, it really stinks that Ketel Marte had to come out of the game with an apparent groin injury. Marte is having a career-year, and he should be heading to the All-Star game. If the season ended right now, he’d end with 20 home runs and 3.5 fWAR, both high-water marks and we’re not even half-way through the season. To put the potential loss of Ketel Marte in perspective, it’d be like the Giants losing Alex Dickerson.