|Corey Dickerson has been a huge surprise for the Rockies.|
On Saturday night at Coors Field, it looked like the same-old story as Rockies starting pitcher Jordan Lyles walked in the game tying run in the 4th inning, then with two outs and the game tied in the 9th inning, LaTroy Hawkins gave up three singles in a row, suddenly giving the Marlins a one-run lead. After two quick outs, the run came as a surprise. No ball was hit extremely hard, the last coming on a ball that hit off of Hawkins glove and never left the infield.
Generally, a team that is going to lose somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 games would fold and give up. They would go out quietly in the bottom half of the 9th inning and hope for better results tomorrow. However, the Marlins and closer Steve Cishek had the unfortunate opportunity to face Rockies silver-lining story, Corey Dickerson.
On a 3-1 pitch, Dickerson blasted a 93 MPH sinker about two rows from the party deck on top of the park in right field. The official Coors Field distance was 455 feet, but that location is well above 100 feet above the ground. The blast gave the Rockies hope for the game and another glimpse at the caliber of player that they have in Dickerson.
As the bullpen amazingly kept the Marlins from scoring, Colorado sent Nolan Arenado to the plate to lead off the inning. He hit a ball that looked like it would win the game off of the bat, but ultimately hit the top of the wall and ended up as a leadoff double for the third baseman. With Dickerson strolling to the plate, the double from Arenado would be good enough.
With first base open, Marlins manager Mike Redman decided against an intentional walk to the reigning National League Player of the Week. That decision would be regretted by Redman, as Dickerson hit the second pitch that he saw to right field. Arenado, looking faster than he has every looked before, quickly made his way around third base and slid in to home, just in front of the tag.
The focus for much of the 2014 season has been about the negatives. Rightfully so. So many things have gone horribly wrong for the team. However, while starting pitchers were getting hurt, while the front office was making excuses, and while the owner was sending out disrespectful emails to his paying customers, the two heroes of the game on Saturday night were solidifying their spots as very good Major League players.
Dickerson, while admittedly needs a ton of work on defense to be serviceable in the outfield, has played his was into the starting lineup every day. Despite just completing a full season of Major League Baseball, Dickerson looks like a seasoned veteran at the plate. He seems to have a great idea of what the opposing pitcher is going to throw to him. He also has the ability to contact pitches that are not where he wants them, but would be called a strike.
The left fielder doesn't seem to have a pitch that he doesn't like. Some free swingers are frustrating because they allow a pitcher to get off the hook. They don't force the man on the mound to throw good pitches. Instead, they expand the strike zone. Dickerson is a free swinger, but doesn't fit into that category. In his short career, the lefty already has several highlights that involve him hitting a pitch that has already hit the ground. In more than one case, he got a hit on that pitch.
Dickerson also has shown the ability to hit a ball at his eyes. He swings at everything, but has a good enough eye to make contact, often times resulting in a hit.
Along with Dickerson has been Nolan Arenado. The third baseman makes highlight reel plays every day. When someone typically makes a statement that includes the words 'every day' in it, the actual meaning is that it happens often. With Arenado, however, it literally means that it happens every single day. When columnists, longtime baseball coaches and managers, and commentators who have watched baseball for years are all saying that he is one of the best they have ever seen, it means something. Arenado is very special at third base.
With his gold glove shining brightly, hit bat is starting to look like it was promised to look as he ascended through the minor leagues.
His approach at the plate continues to improve. Early in his big league days, after getting called up in late May 2013, Arenado looked overmatched at times when he was at the plate. Suddenly he has figured it out. He understands how pitchers are going after him and he is making adjustments. He looks confident at the plate and seems to make a habit of getting the job done when the game is hanging in the balance.
There is no denying that the Rockies are in the midst of a terrible season. There is very little to be positive about. However, both Corey Dickerson and Nolan Arenado are reasons to be positive about the future. If nothing else, they give fans a reason to have something to look forward to.
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