15 Days Until Camp Opens
With less than a calendar month to go before baseball begins to smell new again we wanted to spend each day going through some of the best performances in 2016. Using game WPA for 15 starting pitcher and hitter performances we hope to be able to take you on a trip down memory lane each day.
Look at Mr. Big Swingin’ going back to back. I’m referring to the rankings, and not the game, but he damn near did that, too. Dickerson went 3-4 in this game with a triple and a homer, but he saved his best for last driving in the go ahead run in the seventh inning. The Rays would not look back.
I remember watching this game live and there were just so many weird things that show up in the highlights. Corey Dickerson‘s two-run homer got the team on the board. What I love about that shot is just how very easy his power comes. His swing and power remind me so much of Jim Thome. Ol’ Jim Jammer had another gear, but it’s so fun to see the easy power that both of these players feature(d).
Jake Odorizzi got bombed, but when Jerry Meals is behind the plate you know the Rays are going to get screwed all night long. Jake ultimately got himself ejected in the right way as he waited until he was going to get yanked anyway. It ultimately didn’t matter, but it can never be forgotten that Jerry Meals calls a different game against the Rays than any other umpire in the game. He is a disgrace to his profession:
Another weird even is the ball that Steve Pearce hit down the line that somehow doesn’t spin foul despite getting glanced by the cue. The Rays are clawing, fighting, but of course the Curse of Eveland smotes Souza for being too devout to another Lord. Coming into the game Souz had a slash line of .254/.314/.445 in his first 229 plate appearances on the year. That comes out to a wRC+ of 107. Pretty dang good. Being fast and strong is a great thing until that level of force meets an immoveable and unforgiving object like the Tropicana turf. After the disabled list stint and over his final 236 plate appearances he would accrue a slash of .239/.292/.376 for an 82 wRC+. He just was never the same guy again.
Ryan Garton inherited an impossible situation and somehow got out of it only allowing one, but by this point the Rays are down three late, and it’s looking bleak. What happens next might give you some deja vu, but that’s only because the absolute bomb three-run shot hit by Longoria was, itself, the 15th best game for a hitter these year as previously profiled. With the game now tied the Rays would continue the onslaught in the bottom of the seventh as Dickerson would spin a rope oppo to cash in Logan Morrison from second base. While that put the team ahead he got himself thrown out trying to stretch the double. Hustle plays are great, but with Pearce moving up to third and two outs in the inning this seems like a wasted opportunity trying to do too much.
Colome would lock it down as happened so many times last year. People complain about Dickerson’s lack of walks or that he doesn’t hit any singles, but this is now the third time he has appeared on this list giving you a good indication that he can single-handedly take over a game from time to time. I think you’ll see it show up more often this year, but his approach is one with which you must be patient. He’s going to have stretches where all those fly balls come in cold weather or big parks or against great defenders. When they don’t fall in he doesn’t have the singles or walks to fall back on. When it’s warm, though, boy you better watch out, because Big Swingin’ Dickerson can backspin a ball as well as anyone that has ever played. Hopefully this is the year he turns that .250 ISO into closer to .300 just like his fellow big swinger, Jim Thome.