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August 29, 2014

Fantasy Freestyle

Buy Corey Dickerson

by Craig Goldstein

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You may have noticed the absurd year that Corey Dickerson is putting up in Colorado, or you might not have. He’s having the year Charlie Blackmon was supposed to have after his incredible April, and he’s part of a plethora of outfielders the Rockies have that each have some value. Drew Stubbs is hitting .296 with a .195 ISO in partial playing time. Blackmon might be the worst offensive player of the bunch, given other options are Carlos Gonzalez and Michael Cuddyer. But back to Dickerson, who might be the best of the bunch, if we consider the existence of the tentacled fatty mass on CarGo’s finger his biggest contribution of the season.

Of his 378 plate-appearances, Dickerson has faced a right-handed pitcher 308 times, and has slashed .326/.377/.609 (!), against them. While you might think he’s just a strong-side platoon guy, Dickerson has managed a .281/.343/.469 slash line against southpaws, which might earn him a stretch of full-time play in the future. Given the 70 plate appearances that line came in, small sample size warnings do apply, but it’s worth noting he’s had some success against them in his career.

Dickerson’s season slash line is .318/.370/.583, good for a TAv of .322 and a wRC+ of 146. There’s reason for pessimism of course, as that slash line is buoyed by a .357 BABIP. That BABIP though, is built on a 27 percent line-drive rate, and while LD rates aren’t well correlated year-to-year, it’s worth noting that Dickerson’s 2013 LD rate was 26 percent. Add in the relatively low fly ball percentage (37.5), and it’s fair to say that while .357 might not be a sustainable figure, his career average of .338 is reasonable.

While Cuddyer is a free agent, there’s strong interest in bringing him back, which will only serve to cloud the picture. That said, it’s clear that Dickerson has earned a start against every righty, and probably even some lefties going forward. As much as Coors is an offensive booster, Dickerson still sports an .823 OPS on the road, with a.494 slugging percentage. All this to say, Corey Dickerson is very much for real, and very much needs to be owned heading into 2015. His all fields approach is beneficial as well, as his spray chart below demonstrates:

It’s obvious that Dickerson has been phenomenal this season, and quite the waiver wire pickup in most leagues, but the driving point here is that there really isn’t any reason for his success not to continue. The smart play says he’ll tick down in batting average a bit as his BABIP regresses towards the mean, but the 20-homer power is for real, and he should reach double-digit stolen bases by season’s end. It seems likely that most are factoring in some regression into his price already, and if you can buy him at whatever market rate is right now (with that regression factored in), I think you’ll see a surplus value next year. He should be able to replicate much of this success, and even if the rate stats go down, additional playing time should help the counting stats play up. If that playing time isn’t given to him, you’ll still be able to play another OF when he faces a lefty and reap the rewards there. He should be able to contribute as an OF2 next year as a full-time player with the downside of an OF3 even as a part-timer.

Craig Goldstein is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Craig's other articles. You can contact Craig by clicking here

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Premium Article The View from the Loge... (08/29)
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