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Dickerson soars to first Gold Glove with Bucs

Pirates' spring acquisition wins award for NL's top defensive left fielder
MLB.com @adamdberry

PITTSBURGH -- Throughout his career, Corey Dickerson heard doubts about his defense. The Rays used him as a designated hitter and part-time outfielder the previous two years then designated him for assignment early in Spring Training. The Pirates picked him up and left little doubt: They believed in Dickerson as much as he believed in himself.

General manager Neal Huntington and manager Clint Hurdle said from the start that Dickerson would be Pittsburgh's regular left fielder. When Dickerson first met with outfield coach Kimera Bartee, he said his goal was to win a Gold Glove Award. At the time, some wondered if he could hold his own as an everyday outfielder. On Sunday night, he was named the best defensive left fielder in the National League.

PITTSBURGH -- Throughout his career, Corey Dickerson heard doubts about his defense. The Rays used him as a designated hitter and part-time outfielder the previous two years then designated him for assignment early in Spring Training. The Pirates picked him up and left little doubt: They believed in Dickerson as much as he believed in himself.

General manager Neal Huntington and manager Clint Hurdle said from the start that Dickerson would be Pittsburgh's regular left fielder. When Dickerson first met with outfield coach Kimera Bartee, he said his goal was to win a Gold Glove Award. At the time, some wondered if he could hold his own as an everyday outfielder. On Sunday night, he was named the best defensive left fielder in the National League.

Dickerson completed his stunning reputation reversal by winning his first Rawlings Gold Glove Award, beating out fellow finalists Christian Yelich and Adam Duvall. Dickerson is the first Pittsburgh player to win the award since Starling Marte (2015-16) and the third Gold Glove left fielder in Pirates history, joining Marte and Barry Bonds.

2018 Gold Glove winners | More awards

This season, Bartee used two words -- attitude and effort -- to explain Dickerson's defensive transformation. Dickerson used two different words to capture what winning the award meant to him.

Video: Must C Catch: Dickerson takes HR away with fine grab

"Honestly, satisfying," he said during ESPN's telecast of the awards ceremony. "For my whole career, I've been doubted. I've been told that I can only hit, that I can never play defense. No matter if I made all the routine plays, didn't make errors, I still wasn't good enough. That's always on my mind to prove people wrong because I have belief in myself."

The award is a testament to Dickerson's hard work. He slimmed down after the 2016 season and dedicated himself even further to improving his defense last offseason. He took full advantage of the opportunity provided by the Pirates, working closely with Bartee ("I definitely wouldn't have won it without him," Dickerson said) as well as center fielder Marte and right fielder Gregory Polanco.

It is also a credit to the Pirates, who sent reliever Daniel Hudson and Minor League infielder Tristan Gray to Tampa Bay in February and acquired Dickerson to fill the Andrew McCutchen-sized hole in their outfield. All Dickerson did was hit .300 with an .804 OPS while playing elite defense in left field.

"When I came over to Pittsburgh, Neal and Clint sat me down in the office and said, 'You're going to go out there and play every day,'" Dickerson said. "'We want you to be who you are. We know what kind of athlete you are.'"

Dickerson led all NL outfielders in the SABR Defensive Index, an advanced metric that accounted for approximately 25 percent of the Gold Glove Award voting. He ranked fourth among all NL players in SDI, trailing only second basemen DJ LeMahieu and Kolten Wong and shortstop Nick Ahmed.

Dickerson led NL left fielders with 10 Outs Above Average, according to Statcast™, which tied for eighth overall in the Majors. He posted 16 Defensive Runs Saved, swinging his career total in left from minus-8 to 8. His .996 fielding percentage led NL left fielders and ranked second among all NL outfielders. He finished the season with seven assists; the Cubs' Kyle Schwarber was the only NL left fielder with more.

"He got himself in a category he's never been in before. He earned it through hard work and game play," Hurdle said in September. "That's the big part of it. He's made plays in games. You don't get metrics in practice. You don't get analytics in practice. You get them in games, making plays. He was able to take a number of substantial steps forward on defense."

Tweet from @Pirates: Corey Dickerson ranked first among N.L. left fielders with a .996 fielding percentage and made just one error in 263 chances. #GoldGloveGo ahead and vote for him to go Platinum: https://t.co/t6NaBq7eux pic.twitter.com/N5CZyECr5J

As one of the NL's Gold Glove winners, Dickerson is now eligible for the Platinum Glove Award, which is given to the best defensive player in each league and was established in 2011. Voting for this award is open at Rawlings.com and will continue until 10 p.m. ET on Thursday.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

Pittsburgh Pirates, Corey Dickerson