As the San Francisco Giants continue to shock the baseball world atop the National League West standings, they are in for a battle for the division crown. While the Giants have been masters of replacing value and optimizing veterans, outfielder Alex Dickerson has not been able to join the party in 2021.
Presently the San Francisco Giants hold a one game lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers heading into a crucial four game series in Los Angeles. With the trade deadline looming, the Giants are not only in the market for more pitching depth, but they are also in the market for more outfield depth, which could have a substantial impact on Alex Dickerson.
Alex Dickerson is having a respectable season as he has posted a 96 wRC+ over 68 games so far. However, coming on the heels of seasons where he posted a 127 wRC+ in 2019 and a 150 wRC+ in 2020, his offensive output has not met expectations. This is an interesting development since he seemingly came out of nowhere in 2019 after he was acquired from the San Diego Padres following his release for right handed pitcher Franklin Van Gurp.
All he’s done for the Giants since arriving is produce on offense and the 2019 and 2020 seasons raised the expectations substantially for what Dickerson would be able to contribute in 2021. Although his breakouts in 2019 and 2020 were seemingly overshadowed by Mike Yastrzemski’s breakout performances, Dickerson was yet another Minor League acquisition by Farhan Zaidi that yielded an incredibly high return on investment.
On one hand, it’s pretty astounding that Dickerson could consider 2021 a disappointing offensive season thus far because he essentially came out of nowhere. On the other hand, there is always a looming fear that maybe two small sample seasons from Dickerson may have set the table for a regression.
One thing that really stands out about Alex Dickerson’s season is his .264 BABIP. This indicates that Dickerson has actually been pretty unlucky so far in 2021. This is a considerable decrease from the .339 and .313 marks he posted in 2019 and 2020.
Digging deeper, there is not a considerable difference in his batted ball data, but perhaps there is enough to indicate why he may not be experiencing as much luck on batted balls. He’s barreling balls somewhere in between his 2019 and 2020 season rates, but his average launch angle is down almost one degree and his average exit velocity is roughly three miles per hour slower this season. Furthermore his overall hard hit percentage is down roughly two percent.
Mechanically there does not seem to be any noticeable differences in Alex Dickerson’s set up and swing, but perhaps that is the issue. Since joining the Giants Dickerson has always had a relatively flat and transverse swing. Perhaps as he ages and his bat speed or hand to eye coordination diminishes, the flatter swing path needs to be recalibrated to something that will help him get more loft and reorient his barrel as it travels through the hitting zone.
The Giants hitting staff has done a great job reorienting the swings of Buster Posey, and Brandon Crawford. Perhaps the weekend off will give Alex Dickerson an opportunity to clear his mind and dial in his swing a little bit. There aren’t huge physical adjustments that need to be made, but his batted ball data may be indicating that a flaw in his bat path may be getting exposed.
The San Francisco Giants have been quite a story so far this season and if Alex Dickerson can get going, he can be an exceptional offensive producer in a surprisingly deep line up. When at his best, Dickerson provides similar production to a David Peralta type hitter, which is pretty good. However, if he can’t get going soon, there’s a chance his playing time moving forward could be in jeopardy if the Giants decide to add at the trade deadline.