The Marlins’ outfielder is having a good season offensively so far thanks to a different approach at the plate.
Fortunately for the Marlins, Corey Dickerson is having a good year in the second and final season of his two-year contract, which he signed in January 2020. Through 26 games in 2021, he’s back to his old form, being more consistent at the plate, and putting the ball in the air at a higher rate, things that have led to better results.
Dickerson’s has recorded 25 hits—tied for the highest total on the Marlins—with five doubles, one triple, and one home run. He’s had seven runs batted in, 11 scored runs, eight walks, and 17 strikeouts. The 31-year-old outfielder owns a .316/.400/.443 slash line and an .843 OPS.
But let’s get down to business: what’s different about Dickerson in ‘21?
HE’S HITTING LEFTIES
In his career, Dickerson is a .270 hitter against left-handed pitchers, but last year he was well below his lifetime average. In 2020, the veteran posted a .212/.241/.404 slash line facing southpaws (55 PAs). This time, it’s been different so far.
Through 18 plate appearances this campaign, he’s compiled six hits (two doubles, one triple) and two bases on balls, good enough for a .375/.444/.625 line.
HE’S BEING MORE AGGRESSIVE
Dickerson is seeing 3.94 pitchers per plate appearance, the lowest mark for him since 2018 (3.75). He’s swinging at first pitches 35.6 percent of the time, a bit higher than last year. He’s being a little bit more aggressive at the plate and it’s working so far.
In fact, six of Dickerson’s 25 hits through Sunday (24%) came on swings at first pitches (.667 BA). Also, four of hits total hits have come on 0-1 counts (.571 BA) and four other hits came on 1-0 counts (.444 BA). That is a combination of 14 hits before the second pitch of an at-bat.
HE’S ELEVATING CONSISTENTLY
Everybody wants to hit line drives, right? Well, after posting a 20.8 LD% in 2020 (his lowest in the Statcast era), that percentage went up to 35.5% this year for Dickerson (the second-best number in his career).
He may not be connecting the ball with his usual strength (85.8 EV 2021), but he’s hitting it pretty well. In fact, his sweet spot percentage is at 41.9% right now, a notable increase from last season’s 25.8%. In case you’re wondering, the sweet spot classification applies to any batted-ball event with a launch angle between eight and 32 degrees.
This improvement from Dickerson and the fact he’s looking more like the hitter he was before arriving at Miami only helps the Marlins. Not only does it help the winning cause, but it could also make him a good trade chip before the deadline if the Marlins eventually become sellers.