The Big Switch: Brian Dozier
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I keep coming back to that astonishing number as the second baseman launches bomb after bomb after bomb for the Twins. After going deep twice at Target Field over the weekend, Dozier now has 11 homers this season, tying him for fourth in the American League.
According to the Star Tribune's Phil Miller, Dozier "laughed at the notion that he's now a power hitter" after hitting his 10th jack on Friday night. Then, perhaps while still chuckling, he went out on Saturday and delivered a three-run homer that lifted the Twins to a 4-3 victory.
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It's not surprising that Dozier doesn't want to be pigeon-holed as a power hitter. After all, he's been arguably the most effective leadoff hitter in baseball. His on-base percentage is up to .374, he's 12-for-15 on stolen base attempts and he leads the league with 40 runs scored.
Those are the types of things we might have expected based on his track record in the minors, where Dozier was a speedy on-base machine with a disciplined approach and a good glove.
But his power was very slow to develop. He didn't hit his first home run as a pro until his 126th game, and up until last year he had never reached double-digits in homers for a season.
Then, the switch flipped. Since the start of the 2013 campaign, Dozier has piled up 29 home runs in 189 games. That might not sound like elite pop, but when you account for his position, it is. No second baseman has put more balls in the bleachers over the last two seasons.
Photo by Jesse Johnson, USA TODAY Sports
So while he might be many other things as well, there's no doubt that he is a power hitter. And that transformation probably has the Twins thinking about making a switch of their own.
Although Dozier has been spectacular as a leadoff man, the impact of his frequent long balls hasn't been maximized. All but two of his 11 homers have come with the bases empty, and despite being one of the most prolific power hitters in the league Dozier ranks fourth on his own team in RBI.
Trevor Plouffe, who has been regularly occupying the third spot in the lineup, has gone cold after a hot start. A rough month has dropped his hitting line to .245/.330/.399 and his penchant for knocking in runs has all but disappeared, Sunday's 2-RBI effort notwithstanding.
The lack of a suitable replacement at the top of the lineup might be the only thing holding Ron Gardenhire back from sliding Dozier down to a spot where he'd have more opportunities to drive men (and specifically Joe Mauer) home.
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