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From MinnCentric

Top '13 Stories: #10 Brian Dozier Breaks Through

2013 was a big year for Brian Dozier. He had been hyped (maybe over-hyped) in spring training in 2012, and when he finally made his big league debut as a 24-year-old in early May, it proved to be a major struggle for him.

Dozier learned a lot from 2012, and came into 2013 ready to take the next step. By season’s end, he was an easy choice for the Twins' most improved player. Some even made an argument that he could have been named the team’s MVP.[PRBREAK][/PRBREAK]

To understand where Dozier entered 2013, we really need to go back and look at his 2012. He was named the 2011 Twins' Minor League Hitter of the Year. When he came up in 2012, he hit just .234/.271/.332 (.603) in 84 games. He was sent down to Rochester in mid-August and did not get called up when rosters expanded in September.

However, when he came to Fort Myers for spring training 2013, he was handed a new job, starting second baseman. His defense at the position solidified his roster spot.

But after going 1-5 with on May 27 he was hitting just .197/.238/.270 (.508). To their credit, the Twins stood by him, and he made that decision look great. In his final 110 games of the season, he hit .259/.335/.461 (.796) with 30 doubles, two triples and 17 home runs.

It was a topic that Parker Hageman addressed in spring training when he said Dozier’s swing was something that Twins fans needed to watch. In August, Parker went back and reviewed Dozier’s swing and showed some of the reasons behind his improved production. Dozier gave a lot of credit to hitting coach Tom Brunansky for working with him through a couple technical glitches.

A quick look at how his numbers after May 27 compare to other top second basemen shows that he can play with the best. His .796 ranked behind only Robinson Cano, Matt Carpenter, Jason Kipnis, and Chase Utley. His 49 extra base hits was behind only Carpenter’s 54 (39 doubles, 7 triples, 8 home runs) and three ahead of Cano (30 doubles, 14 home runs). No one else had more than 38 (Kipnis).

Dozier’s defense was a constant throughout the 2013 season, as well. He made enough great plays to fill up a couple highlight reels. At season’s end, he was named the Twins recipient of the Wilson’s Twins Top Defender.

Now, Dozier will be the first to tell you he’s still got plenty of room for improvement. He would like to increase his batting average, something that would be helped by cutting down his strikeout count. Overall, he hit .244/.312/.414. His OPS of .726 was exactly league average. However, his WAR (by Baseball-Reference) was 3.8, and his Fan Graphs WAR was 2.8.

Attached Image: Brian Dozier2.jpg

Photo by Betsy Bissen

The Twins will be counting on Dozier to continue that improvement track in 2014. In 2013, his emergence was certainly one of the bigger Twins stories.

A look at other Twins stories from 2013 includes:

#13 – Twins in the WBC
#12 – Drew Butera Traded to Dodgers
#11 – Twins Sign Kubel, Trade Doumit

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