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Rockies 2014 season review: Corey Dickerson broke out in a big way

Despite an early season demotion, Corey Dickerson ended up being the third most valuable Rockie in 2014

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Corey Dickerson can just flat out hit. I apologize if that sounds like a Husonesque statement, an example of old school, squinty-eyed, essentially meaningless scout-speak. But Dickerson is an old school type player. He doesn't care for the modern hitting approach of taking pitches and working counts; he steps into the box with the aggressiveness of a little leaguer on a hot streak. Dickerson's hot zone isn't knees to letters, it's shoe-laces to eyeballs, and occasionally he'll expand it still further. In 2014, that approach worked like gangbusters.

It's almost hard to remember that Dickerson could barely crack the roster at the start of the season. He broke camp with the team and participated in the opening series in Miami; and then was shipped to Triple-A. Carlos Gonzalez, Charlie Blackmon, Michael Cuddyer, Brandon Barnes, and Drew Stubbs were all ahead of him on the depth chart. Despite not having anything to prove in the minors--he would consistently put up an OPS around .950--he couldn't keep his spot on the big club. But when injuries struck down Cargo and Cuddyer, Dickerson got his chance for everyday ABs, and he did not disappoint.

What happened

Base hits. Lots and lots of base hits. Despite receiving only 478 plate appearances, Dickerson led the team in home runs with 24, and they usually weren't cheapies. For instance:

Dickerson's .312/.364/.567 line was obviously fantastic, and only his lack of plate appearances kept him out of the batting title hunt. His 7.7 BB% is actually pretty respectable for a guy with reputation for wild swings (compare with lead off hitter Charlie Blackmon's 4.8%). His .356 BABIP was higher than average, but for a guy who sprays line drives all over the yard, you can definitely make the argument that he earned those hits that dropped in.

By the numbers

Corey Dickerson, 2014

PA 478
BA 0.312
OBP 0.364
SLG 0.567
HR 24
BABIP 0.356
OPS 0.931
OPS+ 142
SB 8
WAR 3.4

Dickerson wasn't immune to the Coors Field effect (home OPS: 1.098. Road OPS: .735) and hit righties much better than lefties (against RHP: .985. Against LHP: .724). But neither of those splits are fatal; a .700+ road OPS was quiet competence when the rest of the team was totally hapless.

Of course there's more to baseball than pure hitting. By both the eye test and advanced fielding numbers Dickerson was at best serviceable in the outfield; and possibly a major liability. Defensive Runs Saved rated him as being two runs below average, which is perfectly acceptable. Fangraphs, though, had him at a -10 fielder, or costing the team an entire win just with bad defense. Dickerson has good speed, but sometimes he would look like Wile E. Coyote when running, with his legs blurred out in motion and tearing up strips of sod without actually getting anywhere. And the less said about his arm the better; toward the end of the season opponents were testing him constantly.

Also, he did this once. Work better legs!

2014 grade: A-

What more can you expect from the guy? It's not often you go from initially getting squeezed off the roster to being perhaps the most exciting player on the team. Dickerson flashed an elite hit tool in 2014, and while defensive limitations and the occasional bone-headed play keep his season from being a straight A, he proved to be perhaps the team's best surprise in a bad season.

What to expect in 2015

Dickerson will get a full slate of at bats in 2015 to show what he can really do. Corey has never failed to tear the cover off the ball at any stop in his career. Somehow he has always flown under the prospect radar, but he has hit himself right into the starting left field spot. Entering his age 25/26 season I fully expect big things. I think it's quite possible Dickerson belts 25 homers as part of a .300/.360/.550 season, with a trip to the All Star game. The Alabamian with a country twang as smooth as iced tea is going do some scary things to baseballs in 2015.