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This Dozier Recipe May Be a New One

For virtually his whole career, Brian Dozier has developed a pattern of being a slow starter and going streaking following the All-Star break. While that doesn’t mean he’s running around with his pants off, his second half OPS numbers suggest he may play like a man with his pants on fire down the stretch. In 2018, the slow start is there, but the formula is a bit different as well.
Image courtesy of © Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
To date this season, Dozier owns a .225/.287/.384 slash line and has hit just five home runs. There was exactly one month between his 4th and 5th home runs on the year, and there are just 11 total extra-base hits to his name. Given that we’ve seen a similar blueprint time and time again for the Twins second baseman, it’s not time to panic. That being said, this season seems to have a new recipe in regard to how pitchers are attacking the Twins star, and in the way he reacts.

Looking back over the past couple of seasons, pitchers have continued to make adjustments to Dozier’s dead pull strategy. Pitching away as opposed to up and in, the 606 pitches he’s seen this year have been more densely located in the low and away quadrant of the strike zone than at any point previously in his career (as evidenced in the graph below). Being pitched low and away isn’t exactly surprising for a guy that can do damage on balls thrown up and in. Right now though, it’s about what Dozier is doing with those low and away pitches.

Attached Image: Webp.net-gifmaker.gif

The unfortunate reality is that he’s swinging at them, and probably too often.
On the year, Dozier is chasing 24% of the time, while swinging through pitches 7.8% of the time. The former number is in line with last season, while the latter is slightly lower. He has upped his zone swing percentage to 64% (from 62.5%), but there’s really nothing too negative with his percentage swing profile. If we look at the quality of contact, things change just a little bit.

As much of a pull hitter as he’s turned into, Dozier hasn’t been that drastic of a fly ball guy. His launch angles have hovered around the high 12 or 13 degree mark on base hits, although this year the average has dipped down to 11.9. Combine that with an exit velocity that’s sitting at a four-year low of 90mph, and it’s no wonder why the 29.5% hard hit rate is a low water mark dating back to 2015. In summarizing the batted ball output, we’re seeing Dozier hit the ball more softly, at a less optimal launch angle, more often this year. It’s definitely why he owns just a .243 BABIP on a .225 average. By trying to pull pitches low and outside, he's only able to reach the middle of the field, as opposed to his desired left side.

Attached Image: Webp.net-gifmaker (1).gif

So, where can all of this be corrected? It seems that patience may be a virtue that Dozier has gotten away from just a little bit in the early going this season. Instead of forcing pitchers back up and in where he’d like pitches, he’s obliged in swinging at balls not conducive to success with his current approach. With 12 walks through 32 games, he’s on pace for roughly 20 fewer than a season ago. The strikeout numbers are also down slightly, and it too looks like a reflection of not working counts. In 2017, Dozier was ahead in the count during 272 plate appearances, while also seeing 116 full counts. This season he’s on pace for just 223 plate appearances where he’s been ahead in the count, and only 91 times will he have pushed the count full.

As a leadoff hitter, Dozier has always been miscast. His home runs largely go as solo shots, and he doesn’t have the traditional mindset of forcing the opposing pitcher to work early. Preferring to hit in the one spot, it’s been a fine approach while he’s going good, but would regress significantly if this were to become the new norm. Getting back to being a choosier hitter in terms of pitch location is a must, and it should go a long way toward sparking a turnaround the rest of the way.

It’s relatively silly to ever expect Brian Dozier to be an on-base machine. His walks are largely generated on the premise of him being pitched around or carefully to, when he’s going well. If that’s not happening though, there’s a lot less reason for opposing pitchers to be afraid of challenging him. Dozier can get back to stinging the ball by working counts and getting pitches he’s more able to do something with.

We should see the change take place in due time, but the hope would that it would turn around sooner rather than later. Eduardo Escobar and Eddie Rosario are pacing the Twins lineup right now, but getting bigger contributions from a bopper like Dozier would be a very nice addition.

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21 Comments

Not sure, but wasn't he hitting about the same or worse this time last season?

I agree he's been miscast as a leadoff hitter. But he's been there for 3 reasons.

1] He's been productive there.
2] He's indicated a preference for the spot, though he bas never demanded he hit there.
3] Honestly, other than Mauer, there really hasn't been anyone better for the role.

I've argued for some time now he'd be even more productive hitting anywhere from 2-5, and you could make arguments for any of those spots for him.

I feel his production the past few season's goes way beyond his HR totals. Never a great hitter or OB guy, his numbers are generally solid. But there are are tons of doubles mixed in with good beginning and SB as well. I just think he's a smart hitter/player who learns to make adjustments. And I believe he will yet again.

Absolutely don't want to turn this in to yet another "keep him, trade him, let him walk" thread, but my father and I were discussing BD, Mauer and Escobar at length the other night. The payroll is in a good place, and not at the MLB mean. There is serious money coming off the books each of the next couple of years, even with raises. There really should be no reason the Twins cant keep all 3, barring some huge demands.

Dozier needs to eat some pine right now.Petit has been swinging a hotter bat and the Twins should go with him.Any other player with a .134/.194/.224 slash line, -0.560 WPA, -8.81 RE24 since the beginning of the Yankees' series would had.He is hurting the Twins right now and Molitor should quit playing favorites

A day off...maybe. But no manager anywhere is sitting Dozier for Petit.
    • diehardtwinsfan, zenser, snepp and 4 others like this
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TheLeviathan
May 10 2018 09:55 PM

I'm not sure I buy that Dozier's OBP or BB rate is tied to being pitched around.His best year for taking walks was long before the home run binge started.

 

He's been long overdue to hit lower in the lineup IMO, this might be the best time to make that move.

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diehardtwinsfan
May 10 2018 11:43 PM

Based on his output yesterday, I'd say he read the article and made the adjustments :)

    • puckstopper1, WLFINN and AceWrigley like this

Ludicrous to say that Dozier is a slow starter. Two years ago I was arguing on TD when people said that Dozier started fast but never finished well. This is recency bias at it's finest.

    • diehardtwinsfan likes this

 

Dozier needs to eat some pine right now.Petit has been swinging a hotter bat and the Twins should go with him.Any other player with a .134/.194/.224 slash line, -0.560 WPA, -8.81 RE24 since the beginning of the Yankees' series would had.He is hurting the Twins right now and Molitor should quit playing favorites

 

Ludicrous. It's not playing favorites, it's being smart. What's Petit's upside? What's Dozier's? You stick with Dozier because he has a track record of 30 HR power. Petit has a career OPS of .652 and has hit 4 HR . . . in his career. He has no minor league track record of success. He was so good that he signed a minor league contract with the Twins at age 33.

 

There's reactionary fandom and then there's this. This is worse. It's been two weeks for Pete's sake.

    • Broker and Dozier's Glorious Hair like this

Ludicrous to say that Dozier is a slow starter. Two years ago I was arguing on TD when people said that Dozier started fast but never finished well. This is recency bias at it's finest.


Career April/March OPS is .688, 90 points lower than his overall OPS, and by far his worse month.
How is full career numbers recency bias?

 

Based on his output yesterday, I'd say he read the article and made the adjustments :)

 

As if on cue...

 

Ludicrous to say that Dozier is a slow starter. Two years ago I was arguing on TD when people said that Dozier started fast but never finished well. This is recency bias at it's finest.

 

2 years ago at the end of May his slash line was;.202/.294/.329.Who were you arguing with?

    • USAFChief likes this

 

2 years ago at the end of May his slash line was;.202/.294/.329.Who were you arguing with?

 

Two years ago people were complaining about Dozier playing too often and being worn down and not finishing seasons. Like incessantly. They pointed to his 1st half and 2nd half splits and raw numbers:

 

2014: .777 vs .739, 18HR vs 5 HR
2015: .841 vs. .639, 19 HR vs 9 HR

 

They criticized management and Dozier. They said "If he's this bad in May and he can't finish, how bad is this year going to be. The Twins should move him." They said the Twins should bench him down the stretch if he struggled. It was inane.

Two years later, people complain that Dozier doesn't start well and only ends well. My point is that we like to find something to complain about. Brian Dozier will be fine. He's in a slump now and those happen. He'll bounce back.
 

    • Broker likes this

I think you gotta ride Dozier, he's got a history of production that's too great to do anything else.If this were a situation where you had a Jorge Polanco or Eduardo Escobar pushing at Dozier's heels or something similar than I could potentially see a switch if the slump were to continue.  

 

I just can't see a situation where swapping Dozier's offensive production ceiling for an Adrianza or Petit bat in the lineup would be worth it...even if there's an immediate, albeit marginal jump in production.  

 

Dozier's in the middle of a big-time slump (maybe he just broke out of it), but I'd be surprised if this bottom is his new baseline over a long season.There are lots of ups and downs for players over the course of a season and even if Dozier is slipping, which is possible, I highly doubt that his new baseline is below the production that Pettit or other options would provide.I think we're talking about Dozier (at least before yesterday) in the midst of the bottom of a low cycle and it seems a longer-view approach would be more appropriate.  

 

With that being said, if Dozier has slipped and I'm not saying it isn't possible that he has, talks about moving him down in the lineup are definitely fair play.Further, hey on the bright side Dozier falling off would be a nice way to make it easy to get rid of him and let Polanco/Gordon or whoever get a shot.  

_________________________________________________________________________________

 

As we stand today and this does hide how inconsistent Dozier's season has been (basically a hot streak and a long cold streak) he's on pace for just under 30 doubles and HRs, 5 triples, 70 RBIs, and 98 runs.  

 

He's walking less in the past, but he's also only on pace for 127 strikeouts which is actually lower than his career average.With that being said, his OPS is way down and his production has definitely dropped.I'm just not sure it's dropped below Pettitt's level. 

    • ThejacKmp likes this
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TheLeviathan
May 11 2018 04:15 PM

 


 

Two years ago people were complaining about Dozier playing too often and being worn down and not finishing seasons. Like incessantly. They pointed to his 1st half and 2nd half splits and raw numbers:

 

2014: .777 vs .739, 18HR vs 5 HR
2015: .841 vs. .639, 19 HR vs 9 HR

 

They criticized management and Dozier. They said "If he's this bad in May and he can't finish, how bad is this year going to be. The Twins should move him." They said the Twins should bench him down the stretch if he struggled. It was inane.

Two years later, people complain that Dozier doesn't start well and only ends well. My point is that we like to find something to complain about. Brian Dozier will be fine. He's in a slump now and those happen. He'll bounce back.
 

 

Well, I think the real issue is that Dozier is just really streaky.When he droughts....it's rough for long stretches.But when he pours it on....it's Ruthian.

 

I'm not sure there is really a pattern beyond that.

    • ThejacKmp likes this
IIRC Dozier had a pretty bad end to 2015? I am sure someone will look it up. It was followed by a pretty bad start to 2016 also. So he had the whole season covered. Brian Dozier is an excellent mistake FB hitter. In his case, the mistake is middle up, and preferably inner half. Basically the inner, upper quadrant. So I have been surprised for years that they just did not spend more time forcing him to either walk or hit their pitch. I think this explains his love of the leadoff spot. Lots of get em over FB in that spot. It's the same reason I think the calls for him to hit 3-4 are mistaken. 3-4 hitters don't get those kinds of FB's as often. The mention of patience is correct. It's not the same as patience for Rosario though. Dozier loves hitting HR's. I suppose most do. But he doesn't have "hit any pitch over the fence" power. His is fairly localized. It's going to be frustrating not to see pitches in his zone, and is going to tempt him to try and do more to the wrong pitch than he can. I have noticed him going the other way with some pitches, but not enough to scare anyone.

5 singles in 12 ab from a career .250 hitter is a hot bat. You all read it here first, maybe last. Quick, trade him while he is a peak value as his value will never be higher.

    • Broker likes this

Dozier needs to eat some pine right now. Petit has been swinging a hotter bat and the Twins should go with him. Any other player with a .134/.194/.224 slash line, -0.560 WPA, -8.81 RE24 since the beginning of the Yankees' series would had. He is hurting the Twins right now and Molitor should quit playing favorites


I wonder if Kennys Vargas would be hitting .170 right now with 4 homers like Morrison??

Well, I think the real issue is that Dozier is just really streaky.When he droughts....it's rough for long stretches.But when he pours it on....it's Ruthian.
 
I'm not sure there is really a pattern beyond that.


Agreed. People look for pattern but there isn't one.
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stringer bell
May 12 2018 07:18 AM

Dozier's pattern, if there is one, is to have one markedly better half than the other. In 2014, 2016 and last year, that half was the second half. In 2015, Dozier's only All-Star appearance, he was markedly better in the first half.

 

The overall picture in the last two years has presented an elite offensive player at second base. Since he doesn't hit 450 foot moon shots and pulls a high percentage of his homers, I think there is perhaps a smaller margin for error in his approach. Six hits, including two homers in two days tells me that he's not ready to fall off the cliff.

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Ted Schwerzler
May 13 2018 08:44 PM

 

I wonder if Kennys Vargas would be hitting .170 right now with 4 homers like Morrison??

He's hitting worse...at Triple-A

    • Twins33 and Dozier's Glorious Hair like this
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Ted Schwerzler
May 13 2018 08:45 PM

 

Agreed. People look for pattern but there isn't one.

I don't think Dozier has a necessary pattern either. However, you can take a look at any amount of data and draw conclusions from it. Prior to his recent hot streak (and being bumped to the two hole) he was not working counts and obliging pitchers by swinging at away offerings.

 

I wonder if Kennys Vargas would be hitting .170 right now with 4 homers like Morrison??

Vargas has 3 versus LoMo's 4 HR, but otherwise a nice comp

 


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