For Corey Dickerson, the boundaries of the strike zone are little more than a rough guideline.The free-swinging Rays slugger proved that again on Thursday night, in a 6-5 loss at Yankee Stadium, going far up the ladder for one of the more unusual home runs Statcast™ has tracked this season.Although
For Corey Dickerson, the boundaries of the strike zone are little more than a rough guideline.
The free-swinging Rays slugger proved that again on Thursday night, in a 6-5 loss at Yankee Stadium, going far up the ladder for one of the more unusual home runs Statcast™ has tracked this season.
Although the Yankees rallied to win in 11 innings, Dickerson's 19th homer extended the Rays' lead to 5-3 in the sixth and carried with it a high degree of difficulty. The 94.5-mph four-seam fastball from the Yankees' Chad Green rode in above the strike zone and roughly even with the inside corner of the plate. Dickerson crushed it anyway, sending a drive with a 99.4-mph exit velocity a projected 375 feet into the right-field seats.
Statcast™ tracked the heater at 3.87 feet off the ground, making it the fifth-highest pitch to be turned into a homer by a left-handed batter in 2017. The height ranks third -- for a lefty or a righty -- on a pitch at least that fast.
Making things even tougher for Dickerson was the spin rate of 2,520 rpm on Green's fastball, well above the MLB average of 2,259 rpm on four-seamers. A high-spin fastball can have a rising effect, making it more difficult to hit. Entering Thursday, batters were 1-for-35 with 23 strikeouts when Green's four-seamer reached at least 2,500 rpm, although the one hit was a homer from Oakland's Khris Davis.
Meanwhile, no left-handed batter this season had homered on a pitch with spin that high that also came in above the zone.
But fishing expeditions are nothing new for Dickerson at the plate.
Even before Thursday, Dickerson's 44.2-percent swing rate on pitches outside the strike zone this season trailed only the Royals' Salvador Perez out of more than 200 hitters who had seen at least 500 such pitches. While Dickerson had posted a modest .224 batting average on those balls, his sheer volume of chases had helped him produce 41 out-of-zone hits prior to Thursday, eight more than the closest challenger, Ryan Zimmerman of the Nationals.
Dickerson further padded his total in the eighth inning with a single off a Dellin Betances knuckle-curveball that hung just off the inner edge of the zone.
Dickerson's 2017 exploits come on the heels of a homer he hit last Oct. 1 at Texas. In the second-to-last game of the season, he hacked at a Colby Lewis curveball that was just 0.82 feet off the ground, driving it more than 400 feet to dead center. It remains the lowest pitch anyone has taken deep since Statcast™ was introduced for the 2015 season.
Between that shot and the one Thursday night, that's a vertical gap of more than 3 feet between Dickerson homers -- a coverage area that might make Vladimir Guerrero proud.
Andrew Simon is a research analyst for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB.