The Colorado Rockies drafted Corey Dickerson in the eighth round of the 2010 draft. He was a non-prospect who never appeared on a Baseball America Top Ten Colorado Prospect list, and was viewed as a player with limited tools and below average defense. Dickerson got a taste of the big leagues in 2013, playing in 69 games and 213 plate appearances but was underwhelming in his initial stint with Colorado. His 2013 0.5 fWAR and 96 wRC+ belied his offensive prowess in what would become a 2014 breakout season.
In 131 games last year Dickerson hit 24 home runs with a .312/.364/.567 slash line. More importantly and objectively, his offensive numbers were not merely the product of the high offensive environment in the Mile High city. Dickerson put up a park adjusted 140 wRC+, 40 percent above league average and demonstrated power at home and on the road. Although he showed significant home/road splits, he was still an above-league-average hitter on the road. In Colorado however, he absolutely crushed it, putting up a 170 wRC+.
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Dickerson has shown a plus hit tool as well as plus power. He hits to all fields and maintains a higher than average batting average on balls in play. At first glance it appears his .356 BABIP would likely sink down to the .290-.310 league average BABIP. Upon further investigation, however, Dickerson's name can be found at the top of the hard-hit leaderboard with a 21.8 percent hard-hit ball rate. Hard-hit balls historically generate a .700 batting average and nearly 100 percent of home runs are powered by batted balls classified as hard-hit. Even granting that it is possible (and maybe even probable) Dickerson's BABIP declines by 20-30 points, he would still have a batting average significantly above the .251 league average last season (.280 is truly the new .300!) Per all of Fangraphs projection systems, he is expected to maintain his high BABIP: Steamer projects a .321 BABIP, Depth Charts .326 and ZiPS .331. Additionally, Dickerson has shown an ability to hit to all fields.
Dickerson hit 15 home runs at Coors last year and 9 on the road, showing that his power is translatable to parks outside of Colorado. He is a left-handed hitter who feasts on right-handed pitching. He hit 21 of his 24 homers off righties and put together a 54 percent better-than-league average year at the plate when facing right handed pitching. As the below isolated slugging heat map shows, Dickerson particularly punishes pitchers when they throw in the zone, destroying pitches over the plate.
On the defensive side of the ball there is still room for improvement. Last season he had a -5.6 UZR and a -10.3 DEF per Fangraphs. This aligns well with the eye-test, though Dickerson is well aware that his glove needs to improve so he can become a more complete player. If he could even become a league average fielder, Dickerson's value would continue to increase.
Corey Dickerson is in his offensive prime, playing at a home field in which he is well-adjusted and well-suited. He has shown a propensity to drive the ball to all fields, has demonstrated plus power regardless of whether he is at home or on the road. Dickerson continues to work on his defense, and should be in the Colorado outfield for years to come. After three years in the Rockies' system and consistently being designated as a non-prospect, Dickerson has been a pleasant surprise for Rockies fans. There is no reason to think he shouldn't be able to continue his production and if he improves his defense, all the better.
Statistics and charts courtesy of Fangraphs and Brooks Baseball
Steven Martano is a Featured Writer at Beyond the Box Score. You can follow him on Twitter at @SMartano.