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Dozier Hasn't Changed and Could Pay Big For Twins

The trade deadline is fast approaching, and with the Dodgers recent acquisition of Manny Machado, the best up-the-middle player on the market may be the Minnesota Twins Brian Dozier. Unfortunately he doesn’t play the more premium shortstop position, but he’s been the best second basemen in baseball (not named Jose Altuve) for the past handful of years. His struggles in 2018 seem a bit overstated to me, and the front office could still find themselves commanding a nice haul.
Image courtesy of © Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Recently, Patrick Reusse wrote a nice article on Dozier in the Star Tribune. The backbone of the column was that Dozier has provided the Twins with an immense amount of value. That’s absolutely spot on and in buying out his arbitration years, the Twins found themselves cashing in big on Brian. For what it’s worth, Fangraphs values Dozier’s production from 2015 until today at $124.7 million; Minnesota will have paid him $20 million at the end of 2018.

Where I found myself intrigued, and looking for more information, was the notion that Dozier’s 2018 can be categorized as lackluster. In noting both his run scoring ability and .230 batting average, there were points to suggest that this isn’t what we’ve seen from Brian over the past few years. Fortunately for the player, Dozier himself, and a potential team that may acquire him, those things seem to be a bit blown out of proportion.

As of July 18, Brian Dozier owned a .230/.314/.423 slash line. He had scored 60 runs and had launched 16 homers. Here’s how that baseline compares to each of the past two seasons:

7/18/17- .250/.336/.440 43 R 15 HR
7/18/16- .247/.332/.454 48 R 15 HR

We can see here, that nothing is that incredibly out of whack during 2018. Although Dozier’s slash line has sagged across the board, there isn’t egregious movement anywhere. Despite batting outside of the leadoff spot (which should’ve taken place much sooner), Brian has continued to cross the plate. While, individually, runs aren’t the most important part of the game on offense (getting on base is), the Twins second basemen has continued to score at a very solid clip. His walk totals remain in line with previous production, coming in at essentially a 1:2 ratio alongside strikeouts.

As a whole, nothing on the surface suggests that the status quo has been thrown off for the Mississippi native. In an attempt to figure out where the sag is coming from, the advanced metrics help to paint a bit better picture. In 2018, Dozier is both swinging and missing, as well as chasing pitches, less often. He’s making hard contact at a career high rate, and his BABIP is relatively normalized. The area that jumps out to me is the type of balls he’s putting into play.

For a dead pull hitter like Dozier, elevating pitches has always been his plan. That’s the correct route to go, but in 2018 he’s seen a slight shift in flight path that’s allowed too many negative outcomes for balls in play. After a 19% line drive rate last season, that number has dipped to 14.7% in 2018. His nearly 40% ground ball rate is a career high, and his fly ball rate sits at 46.2%. As a whole, the numbers have combined to produce just a 12.1% HR/FB rate, which is his lowest total since 2014. For Dozier to have optimal success he needs to be hitting line drives and fly balls with closer to ideal launch angles. Any time he’s putting the ball on the ground, a negative outcome can be expected.

What it comes down to for Brian is finding a more harmonious combination of batted ball trajectories. There isn’t a singular formula that works. In 2015 when Dozier hit 28 homers, he owned just a 13.1% HR/FB rate. However, he also owned a 22.6% LD rate that season and hit the ball on the ground just 33% of the time. In 2016 when he blasted 42 long balls, there was an 18.4% HR/FB thanks to a career best 47.7% FB rate. Right now, taking away ground balls and adding those outcomes to line drives and fly balls would help make up ground.

As a whole however, this current version of Dozier isn’t far off from what he’s been any of the previous two seasons. In 2015, he went gangbusters prior to the All-Star break and then slid from there. Since then, he’s become a guy known for his second half outbursts. There’s no reason to believe that isn’t the same scenario waiting to play itself out.

In 15 games during July, Dozier owns a .298/.369/.632 slash line. It’s brought his season OPS up nearly .50 points and could be a precursor for the breakout we’ve come to expect. Given the state of the Twins as a whole, and reality that Dozier will move on following the conclusion of this season, I’d still be looking to move him right now. Allowing another team, or even this fan base, to talk down his current production or projection the rest of the way would be a misstep however.

The Twins were right to hold on to Dozier a couple of winters ago when the Dodgers were willing to give up only Jose De Leon in return. Minnesota is now also right in looking at moving him, and I’d hardly be shocked if the return doesn’t work out better at this current juncture.

Far too often there’s a tendency to be enamored with a poor batting average or a quick assessment regarding what we may have seen. While the 40+ home run outlier shouldn’t have ever become the expectation, a full 162 game season from even the 2018 version of Brian Dozier would still be one of the best at the position in all of baseball.


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84 Comments

To be fair, some of the pessimism regarding Dozier's trade value, if expressed even 3 weeks ago, was a little more warranted.Even with Dozier, it's still hard to project his value above the productivity he demonstrates in the 350 plate appearances that occur before July.

 

His wRC+ is currently 12th among qualified second-basemen, and 18th among second-basemen with more than 200 PA.But this article is the blue-print of how the Twins would/should present Dozier in trade negotiations (except for the GB rate (:)

    • glunn, jun, Minny505 and 1 other like this
Brian Dozier is the equivalent of North Dakota men's hockey. Every year from October - December they start slow, and fans raise their pitchforks asking to fire the coach. Once January rolls around they get red hot, and end up in the NCAA tournament every year.
    • glunn, LimestoneBaggy, Twins33 and 3 others like this

What really matters is the ability to drive runners in. That's Dozier's weakness. The Twins certainly should trade Dozier for the best return possible. 

    • glunn, LA VIkes Fan and caninatl04 like this
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MileHighTwinsFan
Jul 20 2018 01:27 PM

I actually think the Twins are negotiating from a position of strength on Dozier.A trade would allow the Twins to still compete with a pretty competitive infield of Sano, Polanco, Escobar and Mauer. I would look to deal him for a piece that could actually contribute this year - a catcher, right handed bat or a reliever under team control over a couple of years. 

 

    • glunn, LA VIkes Fan and jun like this

Facts never bothered Russo:

 

Facts:Among the 21 qualified second basemen in the majors and , Dozier ranks:

 

12th in fWAR, 13th in wOBA, 12th in wRC+, 13th in OPS, 16th in Contact%, 17th in infield fly ball percentage, 15th in WPA, and 21st (dead last) in fangraphs Clutch

 

Fact: Dozier is a below average second baseman in the majors, this season.

What he did previous seasons, makes people hope that he will have an above average second half, despite the facts.

 

I hope that someone is willing to give the Twins something in return, but even De Leon would have been better than what the Twins will get if they keep him until the end of the season..

    • darin617, LA VIkes Fan, jun and 3 others like this

 

What really matters is the ability to drive runners in. That's Dozier's weakness. The Twins certainly should trade Dozier for the best return possible. 

If I were the Twins, instead of that...I'd go with this...

 

Since 2016...

 

only 3 lead-off hitters have had more RBI than Dozier

 

Among 33 batters that have had more than 500 PA's as their teams lead-off hitter (500+ total PA in games where they lead off the first inning), Dozier has the 5th highest RBI rate (RBI per plate appearance).

    • glunn and jun like this
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LA VIkes Fan
Jul 20 2018 02:40 PM

Let's not forget to factor in age. I love what Dozier's given this team in the last 3 years, but he turned 31 in May. His next 3 seasons are unlikely to be as good as his last 3 both in the field and at the plate simply because he's older. In the old days, guys took PEDS and/or ate greenies before the game to forestall the inevitable drop off caused by age until their mid-30s.We're seeing more and more that without that "assistance" guys tend to fall off in their early 30s.I think that explains a lot of the negativity and the natural aging process suggests that his lesser performance might be more of a harbinger of things to come.i'd love to see him have the hottest second half on record but even that can't stop the heretofore undefeated Father Time.  

    • jun, djvang, d-mac and 1 other like this
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yarnivek1972
Jul 20 2018 02:45 PM
Can we please stop using the fangraphs “values”?

They are so out of whack with reality it’s absurd.

Dozier’s worth since 2015 is $124.7 mil?

That’s $31 mil per year. Clayton Kershaw money.

Stop. Just stop. They are worthless.
    • Thrylos, Jerr, TheLeviathan and 9 others like this

One other point of note is that Dozier hasn't been particularly lucky at the plate. Dozier's BABIP of .251 this year is 23 points lower than his career average and almost 50 points lower than last season. With a career average BABIP, Dozier's slash line would be almost exactly in line with his number pre-All Star break the last 2 seasons.

    • glunn likes this
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operation mindcrime
Jul 20 2018 03:08 PM
I predict he goes to the Red Sox.
My problem with Dozier is that the past three weeks have been so good it’s masking the previous three months of bad baseball from him. Yes, he’ll probably finish hitting .240 with 30 HRs, but he’s part of the reason why the Twins are in a hole right now.
    • glunn, TheLeviathan, LA VIkes Fan and 6 others like this

My problem with Dozier is that the past three weeks have been so good it’s masking the previous three months of bad baseball from him. Yes, he’ll probably finish hitting .240 with 30 HRs, but he’s part of the reason why the Twins are in a hole right now.


That's baseball for you. At least he's good enough to make up the deficit.

On the other side of the coin, LaMarre's one good week masked the next 2 months of him playing bad baseball.
    • d-mac and twins_89 like this

 

One other point of note is that Dozier hasn't been particularly lucky at the plate. Dozier's BABIP of .251 this year is 23 points lower than his career average and almost 50 points lower than last season. With a career average BABIP, Dozier's slash line would be almost exactly in line with his number pre-All Star break the last 2 seasons.

 

Are you sure that it was luck and not karma?

 

Remember his whining about not being extended during the off-season?

    • twins_89 likes this
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jorgenswest
Jul 20 2018 03:55 PM

Facts never bothered Russo:

Facts: Among the 21 qualified second basemen in the majors and , Dozier ranks:

12th in fWAR, 13th in wOBA, 12th in wRC+, 13th in OPS, 16th in Contact%, 17th in infield fly ball percentage, 15th in WPA, and 21st (dead last) in fangraphs Clutch

Fact: Dozier is a below average second baseman in the majors, this season.
What he did previous seasons, makes people hope that he will have an above average second half, despite the facts.

I hope that someone is willing to give the Twins something in return, but even De Leon would have been better than what the Twins will get if they keep him until the end of the season..

Context for the facts...

If you press 2B and qualified on fangraphs you will get players like Zobrist who have played 2B but are not primarilynthe Cubs 2B. That is how you end up with two Cubs and 171 games of 2B play in the list.

If you want to see just play at 2B you can choose the split as a 2B. If you do the split and choose team you can compare Dozier’s performance compared to the play team’s are getting at 2B. This will give a clearer picture of the season up to the all star break as long as you are comparing rate stats.

If you want to use slash based stats to project forward this partial season is not enough sample to be provide a reliable comparison. You really need to include 2017 and 2016 weighing each year prior a little less.

Facts are tricky. They can be framed in so many different ways. I would argue pressing the 2B button on fangraphs does not give a fair representation of how teams will project Dozier’s value the last two months of the season.
    • Minny505 likes this

Problem with trading Dozier is, other teams don't believe what we have been seeing for years. Dozier tends to suck in the first half, then after the break, he rips off his mortal shirt to show his 'S' undershirt for the second half. If buyers believed it, they'd offer tons of compensation. But they don't. 

 

Faced with that, the Twins might as well keep him and enjoy his super second half. He'll hit 30 home runs and play great 2B. It's just the way he plays. 

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RaymondLuxuryYacht
Jul 20 2018 04:32 PM

Fact: I hope Dozier goes some place where he is appreciated.

    • Jerr, Rigby, Vanimal46 and 1 other like this

Fact: I hope Dozier goes some place where he is appreciated.


Lots of Minnesota fans appreciate him. Don't be fooled by the loud minority voices on this site. The majority of casual fans will be sad to see him go.
    • USAFChief, Jerr, Oxtung and 4 others like this

 

Fact: I hope Dozier goes some place where he is appreciated.

 

I think that you are mixing facts with opinions, hopes, and wishes

    • jun likes this

 

If I were the Twins, instead of that...I'd go with this...

 

Since 2016...

 

only 3 lead-off hitters have had more RBI than Dozier

 

Among 33 batters that have had more than 500 PA's as their teams lead-off hitter (500+ total PA in games where they lead off the first inning), Dozier has the 5th highest RBI rate (RBI per plate appearance).

Dozier has been really durable.

    • Danchat, d-mac and jkcarew like this

 

Problem with trading Dozier is, other teams don't believe what we have been seeing for years. Dozier tends to suck in the first half, then after the break, he rips off his mortal shirt to show his 'S' undershirt for the second half. If buyers believed it, they'd offer tons of compensation. But they don't. 

 

Faced with that, the Twins might as well keep him and enjoy his super second half. He'll hit 30 home runs and play great 2B. It's just the way he plays. 

Good point, when the Twins were terrible in 2016, it was known that they were dangling him out to other teams. From what we know, there wasn't much interest in a very good 2B with 2 more years of cheap control. All I know is that they got a mediocre to okay offer from the Dodgers - so why are teams going to give us anything good for him now? There is a much higher demand for 2B than there was back in 2016 but for a 2 month rental the Twins aren't going to get very much for him.

    • d-mac and caninatl04 like this

 

Fact: I hope Dozier goes some place where he is appreciated.

If he can drive runners in when it matters, he would be greatly appreciated. Example: last game.

 

If he can drive runners in when it matters, he would be greatly appreciated. Example: last game.

 

Forgotten that in the last game he did not drive runners when it mattered twice.But everyone remembers the grand slam.That would had been unnecessary (along with the extras) had he driven runners in before...

    • jun likes this

 

Forgotten that in the last game he did not drive runners when it mattered twice.But everyone remembers the grand slam.That would had been unnecessary (along with the extras) had he driven runners in before...

He drove in a run in the bottom of the 7th with the Twins down 2-4. Rosario also came around to score on the play after an error to tie the game.

 

Brian Dozier is the equivalent of North Dakota men's hockey. Every year from October - December they start slow, and fans raise their pitchforks asking to fire the coach. Once January rolls around they get red hot, and end up in the NCAA tournament every year.

 

Perfect!!! 

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TheLeviathan
Jul 20 2018 08:40 PM

It'd be nice if he spread out his binges a bit more so that it wasn't late July and we're still a far cry from .500.Make no mistake, he holds a great deal of blame in that.

 

Counting on second half binges is dicey territory.Even dicier for a middle infielder into his 30s now.Maybe he goes Ruth the last few months, but it's too little too late for this team.And he's a bad investment going forward.

 

I hope the Twins find good value in moving on.

    • alarp33, diehardtwinsfan, d-mac and 1 other like this

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