Newest Pirate Corey Dickerson fills a void in the Pirates’ outfield and figures to start alongside Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco. How will he help the Pittsburgh Pirates make up for the loss of Andrew McCutchen?
It’s an unfair comparison to make, but if one is to assess how the Pirates will replace Andrew McCutchen’s production, they must look at what Dickerson brings to the team. After all, this is a website heavily reliant on statistical analysis and statistical comparison is a prominent element of that.
McCutchen is a former MVP and Dickerson has a ways to go before reaching that level, but he stacks up favorably with the McCutchen of recent years. As a result, Dickerson could be a huge boost to a team that hasn’t been picked by many to make the 2018 Postseason.
Andrew McCutchen did it all with the Pittsburgh Pirates and will always be remembered as one. However, he is now a member of the San Francisco Giants and looks to be the type of impact player for them that he was best known for with the Pirates.
In McCutchen’s nine years with the Pirates, he averaged 137-weighted runs created (wRC+). For a stat that measures how useful a player is at producing runs by getting on base and advancing runners, McCutchen ranked 37-points above what is deemed league-average. His best season was 2014, when he posted a 168 wRC+.
Dickerson could be a huge boost to a team that hasn’t been picked by many to make the 2018 Postseason.
McCutchen did have a 105 wRC+ in 2016, marking the only year that the statistic was below 122. Other than 2016, he’s been an above-average run-producer.
As Travis Sawchik of FanGraphs explains, there are holes in Corey Dickerson’s swing. Despite that, he still managed to, like McCutchen, never have a wRC+ below 100 in his four major-league seasons.
Additionally, Dickerson adds a comparable power element. He blasted 27 home runs in 2017, one less than McCutchen did. However, his .490-slugging percentage was greater than McCutchen’s .486.
The biggest difference between McCutchen and Dickerson was the number of walks generated. McCutchen has never had a 10.2-walk percentage while Dickerson has never had one above 7.7-percent and posted a 5.6-percent mark in 2017.
As a result of fewer walks, Dickerson has struck out more than McCutchen too. McCutchen’s career-worst 21.2-strikeout percentage in 2016 was barely worse than Dickerson’s career-best (21.2-percent in 2014). Besides 2016, McCutchen has always had his strikeout-percentage below 20-percent.
Dickerson has improvements to make in his swing. Despite his flaws, he has put up similar numbers to McCutchen and will not provide much dropoff.
Perhaps the most valuable attribute about Dickerson is his contract. After this season, McCutchen will become a free agent and free to sign with whoever he would like. Additionally, he will make $14.75-million in base salary this season.
Dickerson, meanwhile, is in a more team-friendly deal. He will earn $5.95-million in 2018 and will also be under contract next season in his final year of arbitration.
Essentially, the Pirates are getting a slight dropoff in McCutchen’s production but are saving a lot more money. That’s not being cheap; that’s being smart.
If the Pirates are not contending this season and looking to sell off assets, Dickerson’s contract is moveable and favorable for a team seeking a player for multiple years.
The Corey Dickerson trade is a win-win for the Pittsburgh Pirates because they gave up so little to get him and will only improve because of him. He adds an impact bat and comes at a cheap price. He adds depth to an outfield in need of help, plus he’s a left-handed hitter.
Without Dickerson, the Pirates would likely be starting Daniel Nava or Adam Frazier in left. While Frazier is young, he has proven himself well with the bat. Now, he moves into a bench role, but will still play most days of the week because of his versatility. Nava, who is older an unknown, likely will have to fight to earn a major-league job. He did sign a minor-league contract, but seemed poised to make the big-league roster given the Pirates’ lack of outfield depth.
Regardless, the Pittsburgh Pirates are better with Dickerson and could seemingly make up for the loss of McCutchen if he continues to perform like he did last year. He didn’t cost much and he only makes the team better.