Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Colorado Rockies need to try and get Corey Dickerson enough plate appearances to qualify for batting title

Corey Dickerson can crush the ball.
Predictability is boring. The Colorado Rockies are the definition of predictable.

When Juan Nicasio climbed to the mound in the bottom of the 9th inning in San Francisco with the game tied. He predictably gave up the walk-off home run to Buster Posey to give the Giants a 4-2 win.

The Rockies had tied the game in the top of the 9th inning on a Justin Morneau double with no one out. However, the Rockies weren't able to come up with another hit, leaving the Canadian at second base and the game tied.

With September approaching, the light at the end of the tunnel is finally appearing. A miserable season two weeks ago seemed like it would never end. With Labor Day around the corner, with the rosters soon expanding, the misery that is the 2014 season will mercifully come to an end.

For one more month, the predictable Rockies will have to go through the motions and play out the string of games. The young players who will get their names called to get some playing time when the team is able to expand the rosters will be the one reason why it makes sense to watch this team play.

With new names coming up to the big leagues, one thing that the Rockies must not do is take away at-bats from Corey Dickerson. The outfielder drilled a Tim Hudson pitch into McCovey Cove, putting the Rockies on the board and giving them just their second hit in their previous 14 innings, and their first run in that same stretch.

When Dickerson came up in June of 2013 he wasn't the highest touted prospect in the Rockies organization. He wasn't the guy everyone had their eye on. However, everyone said that he was a hitter. It wasn't a certainty if his swing would translate to the big leagues or not. Needless to say, it took a while before fans were convinced that he might be the real deal.

It is easy to overlook Dickerson. The player who he seemed to resemble the most when he came to the big leagues was a guy who had some success with the Rockies, but never became an everyday player. That guy was Seth Smith. He was also a lefty, he was also a very nice guy from the south who wasn't a high draft pick. He had a great swing, just like Dickerson, and his defense made him a huge liability in the outfield. He essentially is another Seth Smith.

In fact, he might resemble Smith so much that the Rockies try to put him in the same category. It seems that this club is reluctant to realize that they need Dickerson in the lineup every day. He was on the bench on Tuesday night in favor of both Matt McBride and Brandon Barnes. The reason is because Walt Weiss and the Rockies felt they had a better chance against the Giants and left-handed thrower Madison Bumgarner with below average minor league-type right-handers instead of Dickerson, who has done well against lefties in his own right.

With the Rockies long out of the playoff hunt, the club should focus on improving Dickerson. With the contracts of both Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki scheduled to bump up, the team must decide if they need to make a bold move and trade one or both of their sluggers. Dickerson's success might be something that convinces the team that they wouldn't miss Gonzalez if they were to move him.

However, the Rockies need to be extremely careful before they do that. They need to be certain that they have a guy in Dickerson who will make the fan base forget about Gonzalez. He needs to be someone who can be depended on to produce runs -- especially considering that his defense in left field will be a huge step down from what the team has gotten used to with Gonzalez.

To get that feel, the Rockies need to play Dickerson every single day. They need to play him against righties, lefties, aces and average pitchers. He needs to play every day in order to let the club see what they truly have.

Also, with a .318 batting average, Dickerson is right in the running for the National League batting title, and certainly a Silver Slugger award. However, in order to qualify for those awards, Dickerson must qualify with enough plate appearances. As has always been the rule, in order to qualify, the player has to average 3.1 plate appearances per team game. Essentially what it requires is that a player has 502 plate appearances by the end of the season.

Going into Wednesday night's game, Dickerson had just 374 plate appearances. With four more on Wednesday, he is sitting at 378. That means that he will need 124 plate appearances between now and the end of the season. With 28 games to go, Dickerson will need to play every day and average nearly four-and-a-half plate appearances per game in order to qualify for the batting title.

That certainly won't be easy to accomplish, but mix in a few games in which the Rockies score a bunch of runs, or a few extra inning games in which Dickerson sees that plate a bunch of times.

The Rockies are going nowhere and they need to see what they have going forward. Dickerson is especially important. If he is more of a Seth Smith-type of player, then the team doesn't have the talent necessary to deal Gonzalez and not get significantly worse. However, if Dickerson is truly a guy who can hit 20 home runs and drive in 80 every season, then it makes the decision to deal CarGo that much easier.

There is nothing left to play for in 2014 for the Rockies, so they may as well play for personal accomplishments. If Dickerson can get enough at-bats to prove his worth, plus play well enough to stick around in the hunt for the batting title, it will go a long way for his confidence and the overall excitement level for those who watch this team on a daily basis as they head into the offseason.

It is important for the Rockies to see what they have, not only in Dickerson, but also in all of their young players. They need to see if they have what it takes to get better. They need to see if they are going to need to address many of their failures in free agency or from within the organization.

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