Next up on the San Francisco Giants season reviews is outfielder Alex Dickerson.
52 games, 170 plate appearances, .298/.371/.576, .947 OPS, 10 home runs, 27 RBI, 16 walks to 30 strikeouts
157 OPS+, 151 wRC+, 0.6 rWAR, 0.9 fWAR
Status throughout the season
Dickerson made the Opening Day roster, and stayed on the active roster all season long.
When Farhan Zaidi took over as president of baseball operations, hopefully he can find his Max Muncy was a common refrain. Muncy, you might recall, had an uninspiring start to his career with the Oakland A’s, before Zaidi, then with the Los Angeles Dodgers, signed him to a Minor League contract. The Dodgers identified something in his swing, helped him make a tweak, and now he’s an All-Star and core part of one of the best offenses in baseball history.
The hope — or assumption, even — was that Zaidi would find a few players to fit the Muncy mold on the Giants. And when we revisit that now, nearly two years after Zaidi’s hiring, almost everyone will point to Mike Yastrzemski’s name. Which is understandable.
But Alex Dickerson also deserves to be in that discussion.
Dickerson was a classic Zaidi pickup. He had a decent, albeit not electric, rookie year with the San Diego Padres in 2016. Then he missed 2017 with a bulged disk and 2018 with a torn UCL, and you’d be forgiven for thinking that was the end of him.
But after setting flames to the PCL for a month in 2019, Dickerson was recalled by the Padres, who gave him a mere 19 plate appearances before designating him for assignment. The Giants swooped him for the lowly price of Franklin Van Gurp, and went to work helping Dickerson with his swing.
I don’t know enough about mechanics or analytics to tell you what the Giants helped Dickerson do, but they obviously helped him do something. And the .788 OPS in 2016 turned into a .880 OPS with the Giants in 2019, which turned into a .947 OPS in 2020, which has turned into Dickerson feeling like part of the Giants core, even if he’s 30 on a rebuilding and/or retooling team.
It would be understandable if you expected regression, but Dickerson moved in the other direction instead. He proved capable of being a middle-of-the-lineup stalwart, and put together two of the hottest streaks of any Giants hitter this year.
From Aug. 29 through Sept. 4, Dickerson hit 13-24, with 4 home runs, 4 doubles, and 2 walks. And then, from Sept. 16 to 23, he hit 11-20 with 4 doubles, 2 home runs, and 3 walks.
When he was on he was mesmerizing, such as in the Giants 23-5 victory over the Colorado Rockies, when Dickerson had one of the greatest games in MLB history.
The Giants offense dramatically outperformed expectations, and Dickerson was their third-best hitter, so he deserves much credit for that.
There are still some holes in his game. He’s poor defensively, so he needs to keep hitting at this level to provide value. And the Giants only trusted him with 12 plate appearances against left-handed pitchers all year; that might just be the team taking advantage of having a large roster to work with, but it’s likely that they don’t trust him when not platooned.
But even with those weaknesses, he was dynamic, and had a better wRC+ than Fernando Tatis Jr., Mookie Betts, or Manny Machado (that was, of course, helped by only hitting against righties, but still).
Role in 2021
Unless the Giants try to sell high on him, which seems unrealistic given his age and injury concerns, he’ll be a staple of the 2021 team. The question is not if he’ll be on the roster, but if he’ll be trusted to be an everyday player, or just a platoon option.
When you’re the team’s third-best hitter and have one of the best offensive days in franchise history, you get a good grade. Don’t blame me, I don’t make the rules.
How would you grade Alex Dickerson’s season?
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