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Alex Dickerson goes down quietly

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The lefty power hitter never quite found his role on the 2021 Giants.

San Francisco Giants v New York Mets Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

2021 stats: 233 AB, .233 / .304 / .420, OPS+ 95

It’s going to be hard to shake the image of Alex Dickerson’s last swing in 2021.

It came and went in the 7th inning of game 5 of the National League Division Series. Blake Treinen threw a heavy 93 MPH cutter that fell into the upper third of the strike zone. It wasn’t an amazing pitch, but Dickerson likes it low and this one was placed high enough for him to wave right through it. He held the bat at the end of his swing for a moment, almost comically, like a golfer watching their drive shank into the trees, before crossing back over the plate to the dugout.

There was no vivid emotion splashed across Dickerson’s face—he had been dealt with, handled—all he could do walking back to the bench was chew lip and avoid eye contact with the 40,000 people at Oracle Park that night.

Dickerson stepped into the batter’s box four different times in four games in the NLDS and each one was uniquely “un-pretty.” He struck out three times. He put one ball in play: a dying quail out to Corey Seager that was generously (or just inaccurately) labeled a “line-out” on MLB FilmRoom.

The San Francisco Giants were looking for offense—a spark or big hit or some semblance of life—and Dickerson was unable to perform the essential duties listed in his job description: pinch hitter, left-handed, provide offense power in favorable match-ups off the bench, preferably in late innings and/or close games.

There was some doubt expressed by the Giants fan community at the time about Dickerson’s place on the postseason roster. This speculation wasn’t unfounded. Defensively, Dickerson was a liability and by the time October came along, his pop had been flat for awhile. His last home run came on August 11th. His last RBI was on August 12th. His last extra base hit was a double on September 1st.

Ideally, he was the mirror image of his brother in bash Darin Ruf. It was not that long ago, in a Giants uniform, that Dik showed that kind of offensive prowess. In 2020, his OPS was .947 with a OPS+ of 156. It was not unreasonable to think that he could get his swing back and run into one. That’s really all that was required for the Giants to beat the Dodgers one last time…

But ultimately, Dickerson didn’t have it in the postseason.

Looking back through his last at-bats, it is clear he felt off. It looked like he was swinging a wiffle ball bat. He didn’t have the focus in his eyes. He didn’t want to be there and no one else really wanted him there either.

To be fair, hitting is about rhythm and feel, slumps happen to everyone and to break out of those droughts hitters need reps at the plate. They need consistent opportunities, and in the later months of 2021, playing on a 107-win team, Alex Dickerson just wasn’t going to get the chances he needed to find his swing again.

Dickerson is 31 now and will turn 32 at the beginning of next season. He’s injury prone, with three different stints on the IL in 2021. His projected arbitration salary is $3 million and it feels unlikely that an offer from the front office will be extended. It is definitely possible that his offensive numbers will rebound after this season, but I think the Giants would feel better about someone who can give them innings in the field as well as power in the batter’s box. This team has thrived and will thrive on options and flexibility with players and that’s not something Alex Dickerson can give them.