Corey Dickerson is Beginning to Look a Lot Like Mallex Smith | The Process Report

Corey Dickerson is Beginning to Look a Lot Like Mallex Smith

During the course of a long season it is important to remember that consistency is a myth. Players go through ups and downs as the league adjusts to what they want to do and the player adjusts back. Former Tampa Bay Ray Corey Dickerson is going through a bit of that right now as we speak as it looks like he’s getting back to his roots of trading contact for power. Before going much further it is important to go back to the beginning.

The seed was planted when I saw this comment at our sister site Draysbay:

(reproduced likely without permission)

On it’s face, this is a laugh-worthy joke. I mean, how, who, what, I mean, uhh, who could think that? This seemed like a worthwhile dive so your intrepid analyst put on the mask and took the plunge. Turns out, it’s not as goofy a comparison as you think, for this year, anyway.

I laughed pretty hard at this, but after digging into the data they’ve actually converged into similar producers and it’s been over close to half of the season now. Prior to that Dickerson was a much stronger performer, though there’s good reason to believe that this type of analysis might be less useful with speedy, contact players who get by on spraying the ball around. With that in mind you might lean more heavily on Mallex’s actual production when it rides higher, though it should be noted that they ultimately converge, as well. Calculating production using the expected figures, however, does leave a fairly large gap between the two on the year, but as noted above, they’ve earned at very similar rates lately.

Moving to how they spray it around you can see considerable overlap in that hard liner zone between 85 and 100 MPH and launched at an angle of between 0 and 20 degrees. Both are also prone to the popup as seen in the northern red zone, though Mallex does seem much more prone to the weak grounder on the bottom left. The biggest edge for Dickerson is all those balls in the nitro zone on the right. He’s got seven no doubters compared to maybe one for Mallex. Again, though, what if we look at strictly each player’s last 150 PA?

Whoa, Dickerson still has a few more balls over 100 MPH, but he’s not elevating them above line drive territory. Mallex hasn’t added any no doubters or anything, but he has closed the gap by maintaining┬áwhere Dickerson has fallen considerably.

Looking at final lines over the past 150 PA it looks like Corey is still the better hitter, but the gap has closed and may continue to converge as we go forward.

A big factor here will be what comes next for each as it relates to the non-ball in play stuff. Mallex was walking earlier, but it came with too many strikeouts. This has flipped over the second half of Mallex’s season as his strikeouts have slowly dipped, while the walks have fallen down to Dickersonian levels. That hasn’t improved for Corey, but the dramatically lower strikeout rate was a shiny new glean for the lad, but that, too, seems to be going the way of the clean water. If he continues to get mowed down at this newer, much more normal rate then it’s going to get ugly in a hurry. He’s never going to walk so the hope should be that if he’s going to strikeout at least hit with some power. That hasn’t come yet, but it looks like he could be altering his approach and falling back on old habits. Mallex putting balls in play is a good thing. Tightening up his zone to turn some of those strikeouts into walks could help, but he needs to remain ready to hit the fastball or he’ll have no chance whatsoever.

These are two players who couldn’t be any more dissimilar, but here they are putting up similar production using similar batting profiles over the last couple of months or so. Many wondered how the Rays would replace Corey’s production when he was traded, but it looks like the Rays were right to see Mallex as a reasonable alternative.


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