Alex Dickerson saw a total of zero at bats with the Padres in 2017.
Less than three weeks into camp, Dickerson encountered a huge setback after experiencing extreme soreness in his upper back. The condition worsened throughout spring training and turned out to be a disc protrusion in his upper back. The San Diego native and Poway High School Alum was cast away and sent to the disabled list for the entire 162-game season.
Dickerson’s injury was one of many disappointments for the San Diego Padres in 2017. His dominance in Triple-A El Paso (during 2016 season) gave many Padre fans hope that he could become a star in the majors. Before the start of spring training last year, the Padres eyed Dickerson as the starting left fielder or a left-handed bat off the bench. In his first full season since joining the Padres in 2016, Dickerson displayed his capability to hit the long ball and drive the ball to all parts of the ballpark. Alex finished his 2016 rookie season batting .257 with 10 home runs and a .333 on base percentage in 84 games with the San Diego Padres.
Back issues have been a recurring problem in Dickerson’s athletic career. The Padres’ left fielder underwent his second discectomy last June to remove the bulging disk in his lower back. The first one came when he was 15 years young, after he was injured playing football. The San Diego doctors provided remarkable treatment for Dickerson and a rehabilitation program that would prepare him to play baseball again one day. His rehab and training schedule was strenuous and grueling, but certainly helped him to recover from surgery that was really the only way out.
The post-surgery treatment from his spine doctor was a significant part in getting himself back into baseball shape. Alex Dickerson’s recovery was nothing but smooth as he worked hard with the doctors and the Padres’ training staff to prepare himself for a return to the majors. The Padres coaches have monitored his status and anticipate that he will be ready to play next spring. His pinch-hit grand slam in 2016 off Justin Grimm of the Cubs for his first MLB home run was an excellent display of his power. According to STATS.com, Dickerson became the first Padre player in franchise history to hit a pinch-hit grand slam for his first career home run. Hopefully, the injury prone Dickerson will show that he is capable of contributing to more games similar to that one.
The current depth in the Padres’ outfield is immense and as of now it looks like Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot have secured their spots in the outfield for 2018. Nearly five others will be battling to claim the left field spot before opening day. Alex Dickerson will be one of those guys, needing to impress everyone on the Padres’ coaching staff with his bat while staying healthy. The best-case scenario would be for Dickerson to become a hometown star for the Padres while starting in left field for the distant future.
Alex Dickerson will need to convince the Padres’ coaching staff he can produce more than just streaks of power at the plate. He needs to bring consistency with his bat, as well as the high on base percentage he showed during his rookie season. As many people may not realize, Dickerson is more than just a power hitter. According to MLB.com, Dickerson has been described by many people in the minors as a line drive and gap to gap hitter using a balanced left-handed swing to hit line drives all over the ballpark. Andy Green will reward him with more at bats as the season progresses if he can demonstrate consistency at the plate.
A stat-line showing a .270 batting average with 20 home runs and 60 RBI and a .320 on base percentage over the course of the 2018 season is definitely a possibility for Dickerson, with enough at bats and starts in the outfield.
His defense is another aspect of his game that must be desirable by the Padres’ coaching staff. The Padres’ team defense was a considerable weakness as it led to many of their losses last season. Dickerson must show favorable defense to increase his playing time in 2018.
The strength of the Padres’ outfield is a very intriguing aspect of this team. Alex Dickerson doesn’t become arbitration-eligible until 2020, and eligible for free agency until the 2023 season. He has mentioned to the media that he wants to stay in San Diego and continue living out his dream of playing for his hometown team. However, if Alex Dickerson wants to be a part of the future with the Padres, he must justify he’s good enough in the next couple of seasons. There’s no doubt that Padre fans want to see a hometown guy on the field in San Diego, but that will only happen if he can translate his hitting at the major league level and stay healthy over the course of a season.
Spring training 2018 will be a major reveal to Alex Dickerson’s future on the team. It could be a promise of a bright future, or the remaining work the 27-year-old has if he ever wants to see the field in a Padre uniform again. I think Alex Dickerson will have no problems making the Padres 25-man roster out of spring training. He should successfully bounce back from his year-long injury and make the team as a left-handed bat off the bench. The time is now for Alex Dickerson with the San Diego Padres, and with more at bats, his dominant bat should continue to blossom and carry over at the major league level with the chance to become a meaningful part of the Padres’ lineup.