Corey Dickerson proved he wasn't just a Coors Field mirage in his first season in Tampa, as he equaled his career high with 24 homers while reaching the 70-RBI mark for the second time in his career. His walk rate also saw a slight boost to 6.0 percent, while his contact rate essentially held steady. The 27-year-old provided plenty of optimism for 2017 by finishing the season on a high note, slashing .291/.328/.527 with six homers and 18 RBI over his last 110 at-bats. Dickerson was a prolific source of extra-base hits, tallying a whopping 63 overall, including 36 doubles. Having had a full season to acclimate to American League pitching and his new home digs, Dickerson could be primed for another step up fantasy-wise in 2017.
Dickerson is a candidate to be part of a leadoff platoon this coming season, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. "We're trying to narrow (it down),'' manager Kevin Cash said. "I don't think we have, as it stands right now, a defined leadoff guy. We're trying a couple different options. ... We're still trying to work through do we have a guy versus left and a guy versus right." Dickerson, who's now slashing .441/.472/.647 over 34 at-bats and has led off in multiple games this spring, is a contender for the left-handed side of what could be a leadoff platoon with Tim Beckham to open the regular season. Veteran Logan Morrison is another candidate for the job from that side of the plate; however, he has a history of early-season struggles and is hitting just .200 over 10 at-bats this spring.
Dickerson went 4-for-4 with an RBI single, three other hits and a run in Tuesday's 9-6 Grapefruit League split-squad victory over the Orioles. The slugger continues to show off an improved, quicker swing this spring, as Tuesday's perfect showing at the plate brought his line to .433/.469/.700. Dickerson's significant offseason weight loss appears to be paying off thus far this spring as he preps for his second season in a Tampa uniform.
Dickerson went 1-for-3 with a fifth-inning solo home run in Tuesday's 7-6 extra-inning Grapefruit League loss to the Yankees. The slimmed-down slugger once again operated out of the leadoff spot, with his round-tripper representing his second of spring and seventh hit overall. Despite checking in to spring training at a svelte 200 pounds after dropping 25 pounds in the offseason, Dickerson's bat still carries plenty of pop, as he's now slashing .333/.364/.667 with one double, two homers and four RBI over 21 at-bats. The former Colorado Rockie admitted putting additional pressure on himself to prove his worth to his new Rays teammates last season, leading to early struggles. However, he finished 2016 on a tear, hitting .326 with eight doubles, eight homers and 16 RBI over his last 24 games, Dickerson went into the offseason with an eye on making the physical improvements necessary to carry that momentum into the coming campaign. "This is about strengthening my strengths and reducing my weaknesses. You free your mind a little bit. You don't hurt. You can get in shape the way you want to."
Dickerson, who served as the DH and led off in Monday's 7-2 Grapefruit League win over the Phillies, went 1-for-2 with an opposite-field two-run home run, a walk and two runs overall. Dickerson connected for his first round-tripper of spring in the fifth by taking a Drew Anderson pitch to left field with a man on. The slugger has reported feeling like his swing is quicker after dropping 25 pounds in the offseason, and if Monday's blast is any indication, his assessment appears to be correct. Dickerson is expected to primarily DH this season, although he's also capable of being deployed in left field and first base if necessary.
Dickerson believes this offseason's 25-pound weight loss, which he accomplished through a combination of diet and targeted exercise, will significantly help his performance in 2017, Bill Chastain of MLB.com reports. "I feel completely different," Dickerson said. "The way I run, the way I move, the quickness. ... I didn't lift any dumbbells. All my workouts were flexibility, range of motion -- the way I throw, the way I hit. I should have more range of motion, and that's really what I focused on." Dickerson smacked 24 homers and drove in 70 runs in 2016, his first season with the Rays, playing primarily DH and left field. While the round-trippers equaled a career high, Dickerson also whiffed 134 times, and sported an unsightly .293 OBP. His work this offseason was therefore largely geared toward bumping up his bat speed in order to make contact on a much more consistent basis. That approach already appears to be paying dividends according to the slugger's own observations. "Now my swing is quicker. The ball comes off the bat better with more range of motion. And the way I throw is different. I think it all benefitted me."