Here’s the latest in my series of reports on individual members of the 2022 St. Louis Cardinals. I’m making headway. Today is the final review on position players. I’ll move onto the STL pitchers later this week.
NEXT UP: Corey Dickerson, the DH and corner outfielder.
OVERVIEW: Signed to a one-year, $5 million contract last spring, Dickerson had a season of extremes in 2022. He was terrible early on, heated up in a hurry in the second week of July and became one of the Cardinals’ top hitters for about a two-month stretch. His scorching hot streak was an absolute factor in the Cardinals taking control of the NL Central.
THE ICE COLD PART: From the start of the season until going on the IL with a strained left calf on June 5, Dickerson looked like a bust. In 106 plate appearances over that time, Dickerson batted .194 with a .245 OBP and .286 slug for a .531 OPS. How sorry was that? Dickerson was 50 percent below league average offensively based on park-and-league adjusted runs created (wRC+.) At that point there was no real reason to expect much from him. Dickerson later said that he didn’t feel comfortable during his first three months as a Cardinal. He knew he was letting the team down, and that weighed on him. And he had a hard time fitting in – not that anyone else made it difficult for him. It was just a matter of rushing into camp out of the lockout, being new to the team, and scrambling to get ready for the regular season. He struggled to feel comfortable and worthy. The time on the IL gave him a chance to reset mentally. That was a big help.
THE MOLTEN-LAVA STRETCH: After a month-plus on the IL, Dickerson was reactivated on July 9. And what happened next was a remarkable turnaround to his season. In 121 plate appearances from July 11 through Sept. 11, Dickerson went off for a .398 average, .405 OBP, .602 slugging percentage and 1.007 OPS. He cranked up to deliver 13 doubles, three homers and 19 RBI over that time, and the highlight included 10 straight hits in 10 at-bats to set a new franchise record for most consecutive hits.
How great was Dickerson? During his two-month assault on pitchers — and among hitters with at least 120 plate appearances — Dickerson led the majors in batting average, was seventh in OBP and slugging, and had the fifth-best OPS. From July 11 through Sept 11 only four MLB hitters (minimum 120 PA) had a higher OPS than Dickerson: Aaron Judge, Albert Pujols, J.T. Realmuto and Freddie Freeman. And only Judge, Pujols and Realmuto had a higher wRC+ than Dickerson – who was a blistering 85 percent above league average offensively over the two-month blast.
FINAL NUMBERS: In his age 33 season, Dickerson was exactly league average (100 OPS+). For the year he batted .267 with a .300 OBP and .399 slug for a .698 OPS. He ended up with 17 doubles, six homers and 36 RBI. The Cardinals were 47-36 in games started by Dickerson.
GOOD AGAINST RIGHTIES: It took Dickerson a while for Dickerson to click in and get his left-handed swing going against RH pitchers. But in 174 plate appearances vs. righties over the final three months Dickerson slashed for a .329 average, .351 OBP, .497 slug and .848 OPS. He was 40 percent above league average offensively vs. RHP during that time. For the entire season Dickerson batted .286 with a .744 OPS against righties and finished 10 percent above league average offensively against them.
PROBLEMS AND PLUSSES: Dickerson put up decent numbers (overall) despite a hitting profile that was too low on hard-hit rate, barrel rate, and average exit velocity. He also hit too many ground balls, with a GB rate of 48.6 percent. That worked against him. But his positives included an impressively low 16.2 percent strikeout rate. And Dickerson overcame the soft contact by doing a nice job of hitting to all fields, and he beat defensive shifts with a batting average of .309.
DEFENSE AND BASERUNNING: Dickerson was a smart runner, registering a good Extra Bases Taken Percentage of 47% on batted balls in play by teammates. (Excluding force outs.) Defensively Dickerson had adventurous times in left field and in right field. He was minus 3 in defensive runs saved in left, and minus two in DRS in right. That made him a negative (minus 5) defender overall.
CONCLUSION: As I mentioned earlier, Dickerson was an average hitter when we measure him based on his whole season. But I think he was more important than that because he delivered in a substantial way to become an essential piece of the lineup. During his two-month eruption the Cardinals went 37-16 and averaged 5.6 runs per game. Dickerson did a fantastic job of compensating for the second-half struggles of outfielders Dylan Carlson and Tyler O’Neill.
And though he didn’t do much as a DH, Dickerson batted .281 with a robust .434 slug and .739 OPS when playing corner outfield. Dickerson also came through with runners in scoring position, batting .307 with a .350 OBP, .472 slug and .822 OPS. That included a .319 average, .574 slug and .940 OPS with runners in scoring position over the final three months.
FINAL GRADE: All things considered – most of all the impeccable timing of his huge offensive turnaround – I give Dickerson a B minus for 2022. He did a good job for the Cardinals.
Thanks for reading …
Bernie invites you to listen to his opinionated and analytical sports-talk show on 590 The Fan, KFNS-AM. It airs Monday through Thursday from 3-6 p.m. and Friday from 4-6 p.m. You can listen by streaming online or by downloading the show podcast at 590thefan.com or the 590 app.
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All stats used here were sourced from FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, Stathead, Bill James Online, Fielding Bible, Baseball Savant, Brooks Baseball Net and Spotrac.
For the last 35 years Bernie Miklasz has entertained, enlightened, and connected with generations of St. Louis sports fans.
While best known for his voice as the lead sports columnist at the Post-Dispatch for 26 years, Bernie has also written for The Athletic, Dallas Morning News and Baltimore News American. Bernie has hosted radio shows in St. Louis, Dallas, Baltimore and Washington D.C.
Bernie, his wife Kirsten and their cats reside in the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood of St. Louis.