An “Unknown” Pirate who Could Help the Team in 2014

If I told you that the Pirates have a 6-foot-4, 230 pound, left-handed hitter, who can play centerfield and bat leadoff, you might ask if Gregory Polanco had gained a little weight.

But I’m talking about Chris Dickerson, a 31-year-old outfielder, whom the Pirates signed to a minor league contract in January.

Dickerson has had only 708 major league plate appearances in his career, but they have come with 15 home runs, 32 stolen bases, a very good 10% BB rate, and a batting line of .262/.339/.406 — .745 OPS. That’s not setting the world on fire and Dickerson does have an unhealthy 27.3% K rate, but his numbers do suggest a hitter who can help a major league team in a variety of ways.

But, the most intriguing aspect of Dickerson’s profile, is the defense he provides as a 6″4″, 230 pound outfielder. In 1,316.2 innings, Dickerson’s OF UZR is 19.2 runs above average. And even more intriguing is his +13.0 UZR as a centerfielder. That’s exceptional fielding for a big man and, together with his base-stealing ability, suggests that he is a gifted, natural athlete.

Dickerson has hit each of his 15 career HR off of right-handed pitchers, against whom he has a batting line of .264/.341/.423 — .765 OPS.

If Travis Snider continues to struggle, Chris Dickerson could be surprisingly productive in a RF platoon with Jose Tabata.

There are several other “unknown” players in the Pirates spring training camp, who ar likely to play some role with the major league club this year. They will be profiled in future posts




385 thoughts on “An “Unknown” Pirate who Could Help the Team in 2014

  1. Just got back from McKechnie Field in Bradenton – first time I’ve ever been there – nice little park. 77 degrees and sunny/clear on March 3rd… that’s always nice.

    Pirates started mostly regulars, but the Red Sox brought their ‘B’ team north from Fort Myers.

    Liriano started and looked sharp. He threw 2 innings, and even mixed in that killer slider a bit in the 2nd, inducing a few awkward swing-and-misses from the visiting hitters. Volquez threw the next two innings and looked uncomfortable/frustrated. The plate umpire did offer any favors – a quick lead-off walk and Volquez was throwing from the stretch for the remainder of the 3rd inning… gave up a run on no hits. Melancon, Watson, Wilson followed w/ one inning each and generally looked good. Wilson gave up a gopher to right field that barely cleared fence, but otherwise none of the Pgh pitchers saw much trouble. A kid named Zack Thornton got the last out of the 7th (one pitch fly-out). We left after the 7th inning (too much sun for pale northern skin!).

    Pgh hitters looked pretty good, too. Alvarez hit a tater w/ Marte on board. Marte looked good at the plate and in the field. Martin also went yard on a chest-high pitch – too easy. Walker and Barmes both had a quiet day. McCutchen had a couple of good ABs and a two-strike opposite field hit, which I love to see. Snider started in RF, and Lambo started at 1B – neither did much.

    Among the replacements, Polanco & Martinez (2b) impressed. Polanco is tall… very tall, nice swing, and is very fast. He stole 2nd base easily – about 3 strides w/ his long legs – but was caught trying to take 3rd on a ground ball to the pitcher… his lead off 2nd was a bit too aggressive and the Sox pitcher was ready to go to 3rd for the out – slight mistake from Polanco there.

    McCutchen flubbed a deep fly ball to straight-away center – should’ve caught that ball… pretty embarrassing play there (scored a hit but was actually an error on Cutch).

    None of the Red Sox left an impression – they only had the one hit (Cutch’s flub) through 6 innings… and I can’t remember who had the jack off of Wilson in the seventh.

    Nice day at the ballpark. I can only imagine how hot it must be here in FLA in July/August… must be unbearable.

  2. Martinez impressed w/ a nice line drive to the RF wall for a double.

    Polanco reached base by beating-out an infield grounder that maybe only Marte/Cutch could’ve beat-out… the whole ballpark was a bit stunned by Polanco’s speed – he doesn’t look fast because of the long legs/strides, but there’s no doubt – Polanco is very fast. If the Pirates didn’t have to be so careful about ‘control years’/arbitration/FA eligibility, Polanco would probably make the ML roster straight out of ST this year.

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